What are the top game design programs in Florida for 2020?
|1||University of Central Florida||Orlando|
|2||Full Sail University||Winter Park|
|3||Ringling College of Art and Design||Sarasota|
|4||University of Florida||Gainesville|
|5||The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School||Orlando|
Our 2020 ranking of the top game design school programs in Florida. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.
1. University of Central Florida + Florida Interactive Academy, Orlando, Florida
Established in 1963 and serving approximately 68,571 students across four campuses, the University of Central Florida (UCF) is the nation’s second-largest university and Florida’s largest by enrollment. Also one of the nation’s youngest universities, UCF offers more than 220 degree programs across 13 colleges. One of the school’s largest programs is game design.
UCF’s College of Arts and Humanities, Games & Interactive Media Department offers a BA in Digital Media with a Specialization in Game Design that the school says, “allows students to integrate the multiple domains of art, storytelling, and technology." In the Game Design Track, students "learn the history, design cultural impact and implementation of video games and video game technologies." Students will complete courses that will allow them to "build a series of prototype, casual and longer form games throughout the semester as individuals and in teams."
Other program highlights include the opportunity to participate in game jams and meet-ups, which offer networking opportunities and possible job placement.
UCF houses the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA). This graduate video game design school opened its doors to “a select group of future game developers and creators” in August of 2005. Today, FIEA serves dozens of students enrolled in a 16-month MS in Interactive Entertainment program with three Tracks including Tech Art, Programming, and Production.
The MS offers an “immersive, project-based video game curriculum that’s as active as it is interactive.” Students in the program will “become part of a team of fellow students” who will work together as “producers, programmers and artists on real-world projects with milestones and tight deadlines.” Projects are overseen “by some of the best video game faculty in the world.”
UCF also offers an MA in Digital Media - Visual Language and Interactive Media. Students in this program may pursue a non-thesis option and portfolios might include works of art, software or games students have designed, written articles, and proposals or projects they have created.
2. Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Established in 1979, Full Sail University serves 15,000 students enrolled in 78 Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Associate degrees in the areas of Entertainment, Media and the Arts. Graduate Certificates are also available. The Game School at Full Sail offers several programs for aspiring game designers.
Undergraduate offerings include BS degrees in Game Art, Game Design, Game Development, Simulation & Visualization, and Mobile Development. Graduate degrees include an MS in Game Design or Mobile Gaming (online). In the Game Art BS students will create 3D content and “take traditional art and animation principles and apply them to models that look, move and articulate artistically,” says the school. Course highlights for the program include Game Animation, Motion Capture, and Level Assembly & Lighting.
The Game Design BS is designed to enhance the students “ability to work in a game studio environment.” The program “is comprised of high-level game design and production courses that will take” students “deep into the game development pipeline.” The program covers key industry concepts influencing both systems and level designs that will prepare students to prototype and evaluate their game projects. Course highlights include Game Mechanics, Game Balancing, and Prototyping.
The BS in Game Development guides students through the entire game development cycle, from pre-production to finished product. Course highlights include Artificial Intelligence, Engine Development, and Data Structure and Algorithms. Graduates will have the ability to create program code for 3D graphic display, multiplayer gaming, artificially intelligent opponents, and real-time virtual environments.
The BS in Simulation & Visualization equips students with the programming and critical-thinking skills needed to study and design virtual systems. Course highlights include Virtual and Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and Computer Graphics. Through hands-on experience, students will develop their “tech savvy in order to keep pace with an ever-evolving industry.”
MS in Game Design coursework focuses on user experience research, production, and design. Course highlights include Methods and the User Experience, Prototyping and Content Creation, and Game Usability and Testing. The program, which allows students to choose a track that allows them to focus on a chosen area of expertise, culminates in a Game Capstone Experience.
The Mobile Gaming MS consists of graduate level mobile gaming research, emerging technologies, and the application of theoretical concepts to game design and development. Course highlights include Computer Science for Engineers, Game Development Frameworks, and Mobile Gaming Business. The program culminates in a thesis, which allows students to complete a fully playable mobile game of their own design.
The Game Art and Game Design BS degrees are available on campus and online, while the MS in Mobile Gaming is available entirely online.
3. Ringling College of Art and Design, Sarasota, Florida
Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) was established in 1931 by circus baron, art collector, and real estate developer John Ringling. A member of the only global association to serve art and design education research (Cumulus), RCAD opened with just 75 students and 111 course offerings. Today, the school serves more than 1,600 students enrolled in 13 BA and BFA degree programs and nine minors. Computer Animation, Film, Game Art, Illustration, and Virtual Reality Development are just a few degree options.
RCAD programs offer a rigorous curriculum, which combines studio and liberal arts, with client projects, substantive internships, and national competitions. The program option for aspiring game designers is part of the Computer Animation Department, which serves around 20% of the student population. The Department also houses eight state-of-the-art computer labs in addition to three open labs. Students in the Department are also experimenting with VR technology using the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive.
The BFA with a Game Art Major is one of the few programs available that focuses on visual art for computer games. Students in the program will study “the basics of game design mechanics, meaningful play, interactivity, and options for creating and refining game content,” says the school. The technical aspects of 3D animation software and game engines will also be explored.
Other program highlights include visiting artists from major game studios such as Blizzard Entertainment, Epic Games, and Riot Games, and internships at these studios and others such as Electronic Arts, Insomniac Games, and Sony Online Entertainment. Graduates of RCAD enjoy a high professional placement rate at Activision, Blizzard, Cartoon Network Game Studios, Disney Interactive Studios, Electronic Arts, Epic Games, Gameloft, Hasbro, Intel corporation, LucasArts, Microsoft Game Studios, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Riot Games, Sony Imageworks Interactive, Zynga and many others.
4. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
Founded in 1858 as Gainesville Academy, University of Florida (UF) serves more than 56,000 students enrolled in 30 certificate programs, 100 undergraduate majors, and 200 graduate programs across more than a dozen colleges and schools. The College of Arts houses the Digital Worlds Institute, which offers a BA in Digital Arts & Sciences (BADAS) and a Masters in Digital Arts & Sciences (MiDAS). The BADAS program crosses traditional college boundaries between arts, communications, and technology,” says the school. “Students will immerse themselves in every aspect of the new and developing digital landscape — from digital illustration to 3D animation, from programming to video-game design.”
Sample courses for the program include Game Design Practices, Game Development, Digital Storytelling, Writing for Interactive Media, Wearable & Mobile Apps, Design Production Studio, and 3D Digital Animation. Entrepreneurship in New Media, Undergraduate Research Forum, and a Senior Project are also part of the program.
Other BADAS highlights include the opportunity to gain experience working on team projects, access to high-tech facilities including a 5-screen Polymodal Immersive Classroom Theater (PICT) and a Virtual Production Studio (VPS), and the cohort experience. The experience allows a select group of students to “join a community of learners in taking a set sequence of courses together.” Students will network and build relationships with their classmates, work one-on-one with faculty, and participate in discussions.
The MiDAS program “provides students with the technical, design, and professional skills needed to enter and thrive in contemporary interactive media industries.” This one-year accelerated program “focuses in the area of emerging technologies including Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR / VR).” Students will work in a collaborative environment and receive personal attention from faculty and content area experts. Areas covered include Technical Skills, Game Engines and Development (i.e. Unity 3D), Software and Hardware Integration, Design and Interactivity, Visual Design Tools/Tech, 3D for VR/AR, UI-UX, Audio, Digital Compositing, Digital Storytelling, Professional Skills, Project Proposals, Production Pipelines, Project Management, and Critical Thinking and Analysis.
The MiDAS program is “designed for individuals from diverse backgrounds seeking to further their professional career goals at the intersection of interactive media, innovation, and emerging technologies.” Students will create “industry-standard projects that provide the basis for their professional portfolios to be career-ready upon graduation.”
Graduates of the Digital Arts & Sciences programs at UF have gone on to work for companies such as DreamWorks and Microsoft, as well as to form their own successful startups.
5. The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School, Orlando, Florida
The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (The DAVE School) is a 35,000 square foot facility located on the backlot of Universal Studios Florida, Soundstage 25. The school offers intensive and “comprehensive training” in Game Production, 3D Modeling, 3D Animation, and 3D Visual Effects. Programs for aspiring game designers include a Diploma and a Bachelor’s in Game Production.
Students in the Game Production programs “learn practical skills by working as part of a specialized team on the development of a game,” says the school. The program includes games produced by “both major game studios working on AAA titles and independent production houses working on mobile gaming and other applications. Students will learn the proper tools and techniques used by industry professionals.” Software taught includes Unreal, Unity, Maya, Photoshop, and Zbrush.
Courses cover character, prop and environment modeling, 3D animation, visual effects, lighting and texturing, rigging, and level design. Course highlights include Digital Modeling and Sculpting, Video Game Production, and Fundamentals of Computer Animation. In addition, all students will complete a demo reel and final portfolio.