Columbia College Chicago

Game Design, Game Sound Design, BA

Without sound, games lack emotion and impact. That’s where sound designers come in. The Sound Design concentration at Columbia teaches you to create sound for nonlinear environments, which can range from games to mobile devices. Sound design is inextricably linked with music theory, and the curriculum reflects that. You’ll also gain the scripting skills necessary to not only make sound but also implement it into game engines.

But the curriculum isn’t the only thing that sets us apart. Columbia is one of the few schools in the country that teaches sound design alongside all the other game-related programs. You won’t just be sitting behind a desk composing by yourself. You’ll interact with students in Interactive Arts and Media and other departments like Music and Audio Arts and Acoustics. When you graduate, you’ll be prepared to handle all that comes with working in the collaborative, chaotic, rewarding field of sound design.

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 and development, and then build your skills through practical assignments like sketching, prototyping and design.

What to Expect Your Last Year

As a senior, you’ll have the opportunity to receive credit on multiple video games for the cross-program senior capstone. That’s a boon in your portfolio. You’ll work with a small group of Sound Design, Audio Arts and Acoustics and Music students who create the sound, dialogue and music for the games in the Interactive Arts and Media capstone courses. A handful of students take on leadership roles (for sound, music, ADR and sound effects) and assign tasks based on the needs of each game. A faculty adviser is there to supervise, but students are the ones managing the projects. This course simulates what day-to-day work is like in a commercial game studio sound department.

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.


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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