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Video game degrees in the US increase by 50% in five years

Latest figures reveal that there are now 390 colleges and universities in North America offering courses in video game design

According to statistics released by the ESA, United States educators are taking video games more seriously than ever before.

Three hundred and ninety colleges, universities and other academic institutions across all 50 states now offer professional certificates, undergraduate and graduate degrees in the subject, an increase of 50% over 2009's total of 254.

The greatest number of courses can be found in California, where 73 are available, followed by 26 in New York and 24 in Illinois and Texas.

President and CEO of the ESA Michael D Gallagher said of the news: "Today's colleges and universities are responding to student demand for high-quality and innovative video game design programs."

“This explosive growth in video game education is the rocket fuel that will propel this industry to new heights," he added.

The ESA, or Entertainment Software Association, is a trade organisation that works to promote the video game industry. It maintains a list of all game design courses in America on its website.

Drew Davidson, director of the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University welcomed the news, adding: “This is only going to increase the influence video games have in our culture as students graduate with more of a critical grasp of the unique capabilities of games, and apply that in their careers and lives.”

The news follows the foundation in July this year of The Higher Education Video Game Alliance, an organisation that seeks to bring universities and colleges offering these courses together and represent them to the outside media.

The full list of courses can be found on the ESA's official website.

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Latest comments (10)

Caveat Schola. If your school can't quote you placement rates for the games major you are considering, run (don't walk) for the exits.
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Anthony Gowland Director, Ant Workshop7 years ago
That's a lot of people lecturing in games design.
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Lewis Pulsipher Game Designer, Author, Teacher 7 years ago
Game design does not equal game development. Most schools that say they're offering "game design" are actually teaching game development, but use "game design" because it's a more sexy term. Is the writer making the same common mistake, calling game development game design, or are there 390 schools that actually teach game design, and if so, how many teach game development but don't have a separate game design degree?
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Show all comments (10)
Lewis Pulsipher Game Designer, Author, Teacher 7 years ago
Many of the people teaching game development (or design) are actually programming instructors who were desperate for students. Many schools start game degrees to attract people to programming classes, because people don't sign up for just plain programming (or "computer science", a real BS term).
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Robert Abercrombie Assistant Producer, Vanguard Entertainment Group7 years ago
My education was called 'Game Development' which split into Game Design and Game Technology after two years, for the upcoming two. Whilst job chances outside the gamesindustry are quite high for the tech side (since you learn programming and whatnot), I wonder about what sort of jobs people that went with the game design side would be applying for outside the industry, since I couldn't see a whole lot of skills learnt there that they could apply to non-gaming jobs.

As for the future, it's a bubble that's going to burst. The year I started my education was the first year that the education existed, and many of the graduates from my year already have trouble finding jobs. Four years later, lots of these studies have emerged all over the country and I hope the students have better plans for themselves other than 'I'm going to go indie'.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Robert Abercrombie on 12th September 2014 11:02am

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Year by year it is getting harder to find placements, and with average mobile dev junior level job requiring "4 years experience working on AAA titles" we will find less and less graduates bringing fresh ideas to teams. I struggled for a good year even started up my own small "bedroom" sized company just to get experience. While that ultimate failed, it succeeded in getting me attention and luckily i got a design great job.
More and more am I seeing graduates follow this same pattern of having to go through the stress of starting up teams and working on a shoe-string budget just get vital experience. It's like training lions to prove you can look after cats.
A large problem stems from so many unequipped Universities trying to recklessly cash in peoples dreams of making games without presenting the hard realities of the industry (note; I do actually think there some amazing universities out there, just unfortunately they seem to be the minority).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ross Stephens on 12th September 2014 1:48pm

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Gary LaRochelle Digital Artist / UI/UX Designer / Game Designer, Flea Ranch Games7 years ago
I worked a GDC where I had to find some talent for our studio. I looked at a lot of students' portfolios. I would say that only about 10% of them could be considered for placement. Many of them had the drive to be part of the game development industry, but not the talent. We did find an excellent n00b programer who proved to be a valuable asset to the team. But we ended up hiring mainly veteran developers.
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development7 years ago
There's more than enough games developers, what the market needs are more entrepreneurs and graduates creating their own products.
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Shane Sweeney Academic 7 years ago
Universities aren't trade schools. The sole purpose for Game Design courses isn't necessarily to funnel people directly into industry. Criticism, journalism, archivist, curators, historians, researchers and artists all can directly benefit from a Game Design background if theory heavy.

But as with most fields of academia the real excitement and hope is that educating the population about a field generates new innovations from within the field itself where Game Design starts being applied and understood in ways no one could of predicted. This doesn't just mean exploring Gamification either. I would still like to think that exploration of theory for its own sake is a very worthy pursuit even if it's getting more and more controversial to say that at Universities.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Shane Sweeney on 15th September 2014 7:42am

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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development7 years ago
Shane, perhaps they aren't trade schools, but don't you think people take Video Game degrees with the idea that it will likely get them into the industry?
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