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Animation. Graphic Design. Game Art.

Game Development Schools in Illinois

Written by Michelle BurtonSeptember 14, 2015
Did You Know.....Full Sail University offers online degree programs in computer animation, game art, and game design? Learn more about Full Sail University's online programs.
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Illinois is home to a variety of major gaming conventions such as Wizard World Comic Con, Chicago Comic and Entertainment EXPO (C2E2), and Winter War, to name a few. The state, particularly Chicago, is also home to a number of gaming studios such as the Iron Galaxy Studios, WB Games/NetherRealm Studios, Zynga Games and more. 

Although the city’s gaming conventions are respected across the U.S., the Chicago Comic and Entertainment EXPO (C2E2) is one of the largest and most-respected conventions in the U.S. C2E2 highlights the latest and greatest in the world of gaming, anime, manga, comics, movies, television, and toys. In addition to having a very active gaming scene, Illinois is a leader when it comes to providing quality training programs for aspiring game developers. 

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Illinois Game Development Schools

Illinois is home to 181 Title IV degree-granting institutions. Some of these schools cater artists and designers exclusively, while others are traditional colleges and universities that house top top-tier art, design, technology and engineering schools. Several Illinois colleges offer programs for aspiring game developers including game development, game programming, computer science with a game development concentration, software engineering with a gaming concentration gaming, computer game development, and more.

Browse through the list below to learn more about Illinois top schools for aspiring game developers, and what they have to offer.

Columbia College - Degrees Offered: BA/BFA in Interactive Arts and Media (IAM) with a Game Design or Game Programming Major. Concentrations include Game Art, Development and Sound

DePaul University - Degrees Offered: BS Computer Game Development, MS Software Engineering with a Gaming & Entertainment Technologies Concentration, MS Computer Game Development, Minor Game Design, Minor Game Programming

Tribeca Flashpoint College – Degrees Offered: AAS Game + Interactive Media

University of Illinois at Chicago – Degrees Offered: BS Computer Science with a Human-Centered Computing Concentration + Game Design and Development Coursework, BS in Computer Science with a Software Engineering Concentration + Game Design and Development Electives

Western Illinois University - Degrees Offered: BS Instructional Simulation and Gaming

Bradley University - Degrees Offered: BA/BS Interactive Media with a Concentration in Game Design, Minor Game Design

More Illinois Schools with Game related programs:  

Employment and Salary Trends for Illinois Game Developers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. is home to more than 1 million software developers. Average salaries range from $90,060 to $99,000 per year. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $55,190 per year, and the top 10 percent earn more than $138,880. Illinois is home to 39,380 software developers averaging from $85,740 to $99,030 per year.

Several other sources offer salary information for game designers and developers. According to Gamasutra’s latest Game Developer Salary Survey (2014), game developers nationwide averaged $83,060 in 2013. It is important to note that salaries for Game designers and developers vary based on location (city), company, experience, employer, and more. For example, according to Indeed, Chicago-based game designers and developers average around $123,000 per year, while Aurora-based designers average $98,000 per year and Rockford-based designers average $111,000 per year. According to the site, Illinois-based game designers and developers average $116,000 per year, overall.

As mentioned, a variety of game design and development studios can be found in and around Chicago. In addition to the Iron Galaxy Studios, WB Games/NetherRealm Studios and Zynga Games, options include:

  • Babaroga, Chicago
  • Day 1 Studios, Chicago
  • High Voltage Software, Hoffman Estates
  • Incredible Technologies, Arlington Heights
  • Jackbox Games, Chicago
  • Robomodo, Chicago

Because Chicago is the state’s largest city, aspiring game developers can expect to find the most job opportunities there. However, other larger cities such as Aurora, Rockford, Joliet, and Naperville might be worth exploring as well.

Awesome Animation Fact: Let’s talk about Game Animation. Games began to appear almost as soon as computers appeared. In the late 1960s, Spacewar! was created, partly as a way of experimenting with one of the earliest computers, the PDP-1, developed by Digital Electronic Corporation. A lot of two-dimensional games began to follow, including Pac-Man. In 1984 Atari's I, Robot appeared. Loosely based on Isaac Asimov's book by the same name, it foreshadowed the movement to three-dimensional games. At the same time, Nintendo was working on a video game console, Famicom, which later emerged as the Nintendo Entertainment System in the United States. –