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Animation. Graphic Design. Game Art.

Washington State Game Design & Development Schools: Most Expensive to Least Expensive

Written by Michelle BurtonMay 20, 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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Washington is home to 85 Title IV degree-granting institutions. A Title IV school offers a number of benefits for students, but one of the biggest advantages is access to a variety of federal financial aid programs. To become a Title IV school, an institution must meet five requirements. They must (1) have accreditation recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, (2) sign a participation agreement with the Department, (3) offer a program of at least 300 clock hours in length, (4) grant an associate's degree or higher, and (5) be in business for at least two years.

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Many Title IV schools in Washington offer programs for artists and designers—including game designers and developers. Some are expensive, while others are considered affordable. Fortunately, because these schools are Title IV institutions, all are accessible to students with financial need. Continue reading to find out which Washington schools offer game design and development programs and what you can expect to pay. 

Most Expensive to Least Expensive Washington State Game Design & Development Schools

DigiPen Institute of Technology, Redmond – Tuition Cost: Undergraduates $21,000, 12 credits per semester ($875 per credit hour fewer than 16 credits), $27,200 (more than 16 credits per semester); Graduates $16,920 ($940 per credit hour, 9 credits per semester) for the 2014-2015 school year. 

Art Institute of Seattle, Seattle – Tuition Cost: $17,460 ($485 per credit hour for 12 credits per quarter for three quarters) for the 2014-2015 school year. 

Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE), Seattle – Tuition Cost: $17,000 for the 2015-2016 school year, $33,500 total program tuition fee. 

Washington State Game Design & Development Scene

Washington State has one of the largest game design and development industries in the U.S. Places such as Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond, Bothell, and Kirkland are home to dozens of game design studios that produce anywhere from a few to several hundred titles per year. Just a few Washington-based studios include:


  • Seattle: Game House, Fun Bits Interactive, Big Fish Games, PopCap Games, A2Z Development Center, Flying Lab Software, Wargaming (formerly Gas Powered Games)
  • Spokane County: Mean Hamster Software (Deer Park)
  • Bellevue: The Pokemon Company International, 5th Cell, ArenaNet, Bungie Studios, Sucker Punch Productions, Torpex Games, Valve Corporation
  • Kirkland: Griptonite Games, 343 Studios (Microsoft Game Industries), Mean Hamster Software (Deer Park).
  • Redmond: Microsoft Game Studios
  • Bothell: Signal Studios, Humongous Entertainment, Snowblind Studios


According to Indeed, the average salary for Washington-based game designers is around $106,000 per year and Gamasutra’s latest Game Developer Salary Survey (2014) reports that game developers nationwide averaged $83,060 in 2013. However, game designers and developers are software developers, so employment and salary information for this occupation should be considered as well.

According to the Bureau, the U.S. is home to more than 1 million software developers, averaging $90,060 to $99,000 per year. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $55,190, and the top 10 percent earn more than $138,880. Washington’s 58,670 software developers average $113,610 to $115,370 per year.

Keep in mind that these are only averages. Salaries vary by employer, experience, location, and more. However, professionals in the software development industry as a whole earn some of the highest annual salaries in the world. Six-figure salaries are common among experienced designers and developers, and even entry-level designers and developers can expect average $50,000 to $60,000 per year.

Awesome Animation FactVideo game animation has come a long way since 1958—the year William Higinbotham (a nuclear physicist) invented electronic tennis. According to Brookhaven National Laboratory, "Tennis for Two" players saw a two-dimensional, side view of a tennis court on an oscilloscope screen, which used a cathode-ray tube similar to a black and white television tube. The ball, a brightly lit, moving dot, left trails as it bounced to alternating sides of the net. Players served and volleyed using controllers with buttons and rotating dials to control the angle of an invisible tennis racquet’s swing.