Columbia College Chicago

Game Art, BA

Game artists imagine the visual environments that bring video games to life. How can I make the game environment more alive and make it tell a story? Is the main character cool enough, scary enough, funny enough? As a Game Art student, you’ll exercise your creativity by crafting visually striking, compelling 3D art while gaining the skills necessary to implement those art assets in a game engine. The software tools you’ll use in class are the same you’ll use as a professional game artist.

Our curriculum mirrors the collaborative environment of the game industry and prepares you to hit the ground running in the workforce. You’ll learn how to work with others, making you a valuable candidate for employers. We believe in the “fail up” mentality, wherein you learn and grow as an artist, student and person by making mistakes and learning something new along the way.

What to Expect Your First Year

You’ll take Intro to Game Development your first semester, a requirement for all students in Interactive Arts and Media game programs. This course identifies the characteristics of the diverse game genres and the career paths within them. We’ll dive into key concepts that differentiate game designers, programmers, sound artists and everything in between to help you ensure you’re in the program that best suits your interests.

Beyond that, you’ll hit the ground running, learning core theory and immediately putting it into practice. For instance, you’ll learn foundational theories and practices in interaction and development, and then build your skills through practical assignments like sketching, prototyping and design while learning the fundamentals of 3D game art creation.

What to Expect Your Last Year

During your senior year, you’ll take part in a small-group (Indie Team Game Studio) or large-group (Large Team Game Studio) capstone. But this is not your average senior project—the creative power is yours. Capstone projects are pitched and led by students. Perhaps you have your eye on a leadership role, or a role as a valuable member of the production team? You’ll work not only with peers in your program, but also with students throughout the college.

Game-industry-veteran faculty members are there to supervise the process, but you and your fellow students are the producers and bosses. You’ll be empowered to make your own creative decisions and see them through to the finished game. This immersive, experiential approach requires professional-level work and commitment, and it prepares you to launch successfully into a career in the game industry.

For requirements and more information about this program, visit the course catalog.


Real-World Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

At Columbia, you’ll get real-world opportunities to show your stuff while you’re in school. The lineup differs from year to year, but in the past, students have tested their skills, networked with professionals and shown off their work at events like:

  • The Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco—the world's largest professionals-only game industry event.
  • The Chicago Toy and Game Fair—Indie Team Game Studio students are required to show there each year.
  • SXSW in Austin—compete in events like a Music Hackathon, where participants develop a prototype for a music app in just 24 hours.
  • Industry Night—the Interactive Arts and Media Department’s annual event to showcase graduating seniors’ work to industry professionals from across the country.
What are my internship options?

Interning is the best way to get real-world industry experience. Our students have interned at places like Bethesda Softworks, Braintree, NetherRealm Studios, High Voltage Software and WMS Industries.

See the Career Center website for information on internships.


Admissions


Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

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