Columbia College Chicago

Game Design, Game Development, BA

Game Development students learn how to make games compelling and engaging for all types of users. Is the game too easy or too challenging? Does the main character feel like a badass? Does the player know what to do next? Game Development is among the most creative and idea driven of all the game-related programs we offer. You’ll master how to tell a compelling story for games and simulations while learning to produce and develop in a team setting with animators, sound designers and programmers.

In addition to understanding how to make a game fun, you’ll also learn coding skills. You’re going to script for game engines—a lot. Having these skills will make you significantly more employable right out of college. That said, if you’re interested in the more technical side of creating games, we encourage you to learn more about our BS in Game Programming, or perhaps pursue our minor in Programming.

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. You’ll learn foundational theories and practices in interaction, development and programming and then build your skills through practical assignments like prototyping and design while learning the fundamentals of game design.

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 Interactive Arts and Media Department and other departments across 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 degree requirements and detailed four-year and transfer plans, visit the course catalog.

Real-World Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

Columbia prides itself on giving you real-world opportunities 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.


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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Looking for an event near you?

If you can’t make it to campus, don’t worry! We have a full schedule of events all across the U.S. and around the world.