Game Design B.S.

The B.S. in Game Design takes a social systems approach to game design, emphasizing the creative symbiosis that develops when game designers combine the age-old arts of storytelling and illustration with powerful new media platforms and state-of-the-art animation to translate their vision into compelling virtual realities.

While pursuing a B.S. in Game Design, you will complete an intensive, three semester sequence in which you'll develop and publish your own game! This sequence is modeled after working game studios, and will prepare you for immediate entry into the game industry.

The B.S. in Game Design is part of The Media School, which housed within the College of Arts & Sciences. This degree shares some of its structure with other undergraduate Media School degrees.

Instead of the concentration and specialization components of other Media School degrees, and in keeping with the pre-professional design of many B.S. degrees, you will complete 45 credit hours of courses focused on the skills and knowledge required of game designers. These courses will be taught by faculty who have both notable experience in the game industry and extensive academic backgrounds in game design and related fields.

If you have interests in game-programming, graphic design, animation, or music composition and sound production for multi-media, you will be able to use your elective courses from the School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering, the School of Art, Architecture + Design, and the Jacobs School of Music toward your degree.

The Media School offers an undergraduate minor in Game Design for students majoring outside of the Media School. It also offers specializations in Game Art, Game Audio, and Game Production for Media School students pursuing B.A. and B.A.J. degrees.

Coursework

Getting started

You will begin your B.S. in Game Design with The Media School Core, which investigates the concepts, skills and techniques you will learn in the rest of your Media School classes as they map onto the complex and rapidly evolving landscape of contemporary media.

  • MSCH-C 101 Media
  • a Managing Media course: MSCH-C 200 The Videogame Industry: Systems and Management is recommended
  • a Thinking Media course: MSCH-C 210 Introduction to Games
  • a Making Media course: MSCH-C C220 Game Technology is recommended

You will also take two classes in Game Design Foundations:

  • MSCH-C 210 Introduction to Games
  • MSCH-C 220 Game Technology is recommended, or INFO-I 210 Information Infrastructure I

Tracks and concentrations

The B.S. in Game Design does not include Media School concentrations and specializations. Instead, you will take three courses from one elective area to form an area of expertise, and two additional Media School courses or approved Informatics courses.

The elective areas are:

Upper level coursework

You will begin your upper level coursework with three classes in Developmental Skills before continuing on to more advanced courses:

  • MSCH-G G300 Game Production I
  • MSCH-G G310 Game Design I: Concepts
  • MSCH-G G320 Game Art & Sound

More advanced courses required by the degree expand on Developmental Skills:

  • MSCH-G 400 Game Production II
  • MSCH-G 410 Game Design II: Systems

Typically in your last two years, you will then finish your degree with the Game Workshop sequence, modeled after game studios, and have a published game by the time you graduate:

  • MSCH-G 450 Game Workshop I: Prototype
  • MSCH-G 460 Game Workshop II: Demo
  • MSCH-G 470 Game Workshop III: Publish

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

Your major represents about one-third of your degree requirements. With the help of your undergraduate Media School academic advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interest with additional majors, minors, or certificates.

Depending on your interests and even your chosen elective area, you might choose to add any of the following minors:

There are plenty of other opportunities for additional majors, minors, and certificates. For example, if you are interested in the business side of the game industry, you may want to add one of the Business minors offered by the Kelley School of Business. Other options include a Creative Writing Minor offered by the Department of English and the Informatics Certificate offered by the School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering.

For more information on these minors, please check the appropriate bulletin.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing a B.S. in Game Design, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.

The faculty in Game Design include people who have worked in senior positions in the game industry, as well as globally-known academic researchers. Students are encouraged to consult with Professor Mike Sellers, director of the Game Design B.S. degree program.

Honors

The Media School offers the Media Scholars honors program for both Game Design B.S. and Media B.A students. Media Scholars receive enhanced opportunities during their undergraduate studies. Such opportunities include honors-level media courses and subsidies for international travel courses. Media Scholars also have special opportunities to engage with media professionals on campus and further afield to develop their professional skills and perspectives during their degree program.

High-achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Indiana University students can find a wide variety of scholarships through the following offices or organizations:

The College of Arts and Sciences offers the following scholarships to Game Design students who wish to study abroad:

The Media School also offers scholarships for which Game Design students are elidgible.

Internships

Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships as early as their freshman year.

It is very common for students pursuing careers in media to complete multiple internships before or shortly after graduating. The Media School website offers helpful resources for thinking ahead to this very important form of preparation for your professional life:

Internships at distant centers of the games industry may be possible, as well. Locations such as Tokyo, Hamburg, and London would be likely choices. You might also be able to secure internships with game companies in the midwest.

Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit, through the Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you will find many resources for both domestic and international internships.

Foreign language study

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 70 languages.

B.S. in Game Design students must show proficiency at the third semester level of a foreign language, not the fourth as required for the B.A. degree. If B.S. in Game Design students complete language study through the fourth semester, it will fulfill the IUB General Education World Languages and Cultures requirement.

Learn more about the foreign language requirement for a College of Arts and Sciences degree.

Here is a sampling of language study resources available to students at IU Bloomington:

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in an increasingly globalized world. Interest in creating and playing games exists worldwide. You might want to study abroad in a country with a large number of game design companies. Game Design students can pursue language study and other coursework through the following program:

Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with Game Design faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

Game Design students are encouraged to join Hoosier Games, which has an active chapter on the IU Bloomington campus. You should also plan to attend a game developer conference as soon as possible.

The Center for Excellence for Women in Technology, or CEWiT, is also an option for Game Design students. CEWiT has established a special interest group on the IUB campus focused on women in gaming and game design.

Other relevant groups on campus include:

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities in Bloomington for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills.

For example, you may want to use your technical expertise and enthusiasm for gaming to work with young people in the community. Volunteering with organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington, Girls Inc. of Monroe County, or Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana might be a great option for you.

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Game Design students can also participate in service learning opportunities offered through the Media School.

Professional organizations

Game Design students are encouraged to join International Game Developers Association (IGA). There is a chapter of this organization in Indianapolis. You can also read about new developments in the game industry at Gamasutra: The Art and Business of Making Games.

As a Game Design student, you may also be interested in Association for Computing Machinery's (ACM's) following special interest groups:

  • SIGCHI - Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction
  • SIGGRAPH - Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques

Use the Indiana University Library system to search for Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, non-profit organizations, and much more.

Build your skills

Through the major

The B.S. in Game Design provides you with a set of skills and qualities that may be relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. These include:

  • Creative teamwork: function well in a team of mixed interests and skills, making a complex creative work
  • Skills mastery: excellence in game design, art, sound, programming, or management
  • Systems awareness: understand and deconstruct/reconstruct complex choice systems
  • Game literacy: understand and be able to use hundreds of different game mechanics
  • Creativity: develop your own voice and vision involving interactive systems and stories
  • Communication: understand how to speak to and listen to people with different skills and interests, especially your players
  • Entertainment business skills: the ability to pitch ideas, make demos, sell concepts, and develop a long-lasting reputation

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following abilities, as identified by the 11 Goals of the College of Arts and Sciences:

  • Achieve the genuine literacy required to read, listen, speak and write clearly and persuasively
  • Learn to think critically and creatively
  • Develop intellectual flexibility and breadth of mind
  • Discover ethical perspectives
  • Cultivate a critically informed appreciation of literature and the arts
  • Practice and apply scientific methods
  • Learn to reason quantitatively
  • Develop historical consciousness
  • Investigate and study the international community
  • Develop and practice communication skills in public settings and in the study of at least one foreign language
  • Pursue in-depth knowledge of at least one subject

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following abilities are sought in the job market across many employment sectors:

  • Communicate effectively with persons both inside and outside the organization
  • Work in a team structure
  • Make decisions and solve problems
  • Plan, organize, and prioritize work
  • Obtain and process relevant information
  • Analyze quantitative data
  • Create and/or edit written reports
  • Obtain technical knowledge related to the job
  • Proficiency with computer software programs
  • Create and edit written reports
  • Ability to persuade or influence others

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic advisors and career coaches about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good career exploration starting point is an appointment with your career coach through the Walter Center for Career Achievement. The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendations from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Use the IU Career Guides to determine if the path you are considering aligns with your short- and long-term goals. These offer information about each field's preferred educational preparation, employment opportunities, insider tips, industry-related interview questions, and more.

You might want to take a career course to help you maximize your time at IUB. Media School students should consider taking ASCS-Q 296, College to Career III: Market Yourself for the Job and Internship Search. In the course, students learn how to craft a targeted resume, use their cover letter as a tool, prepare for successful interviews, locate and build a professional network, and prepare for a smooth transition from college to postgraduate life.

The job market

Over 67% of U.S. households play video games, fueling over $21 billion in domestic revenue. The demand for interactive entertainment that immerses and engages the user has never been stronger. New VR, mobile, and other burgeoning technologies ensure a promising outlook for game designers who can successfully combine technical, artistic, and collaborative skills.

Students with the knowledge and skills gained through the B.S. in Game Design will be essential in the field for their storytelling abilities, illustration and graphic design sensibility, and animation skills. Game Design students also develop essential awareness of social systems theory, the gaming industry, and marketing.

Students with the B.S. in Game Design take their education in many directions. They are well prepared to work in game design and production, marketing, game industry management, film and television production, art direction, education, or as entrepreneurs.

Graduates with the B.S. in Game Design may become game designers, programmers, creative directors, visual artists, sound and production specialists, entrepreneurs, and educators, among a variety of other careers.

Talk with Media School faculty, the academic advisors, and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of the Media School.

Additionally, the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

After graduation, a short-term experience or internship can help you make connections, gain life skills, and assess your interest in future careers. Talk with your career coach and use these and other resources to find opportunities that are a good fit with your educational experience and career goals:

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profits, and government organizations.

Good resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you'll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career, to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

The Game Design B.S. will prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as computer science, informatics, sociology, psychology, cognitive science, journalism, business, and fine arts, among others.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other programs in the health professions.

Students who pursue graduate studies in Media have gone into careers with top academic and research institutions, game developers, private and public media corporations, and educational institutions.

You might consider these Indiana University graduate opportunities:

Alumni connections

Talk with Media School faculty, academic advisorscareer coaches, and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of this degree. 

The IU College of Arts and Sciences organizes Alumni events. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Look into information on Media School alumni and the Media School alumni association. Join and use the IU Alumni Association to remain in touch, network directly, follow careers, and let others know where your path takes you.


Is it for you?

This program embraces diversity and welcomes a variety of creative approaches to design and problem solving. The B.S. in Game Design attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically have some of the following qualities:

  • Desire to study, create, and play games
  • Affinity for learning new technologies
  • Aptitude for working in teams to achieve a creative goal
  • Desire to understand how system theory can be used in a variety of fields
  • Appreciation for a diversity of viewpoints
  • Interest in the interdisciplinary nature of and synergy between various creative fields

Learn more

Contact a Media School academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements for the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address
mschadv@indiana.edu