Gameplay systems, narratives, levels, quests, puzzles, worlds: become an expert in the game design areas you’re most passionate about. In Champlain’s Game Design program, you’ll learn to map out, develop, and create the gameplay that defines a player’s unique experience.
Choose one of three distinct areas of game production to focus on during your education:
As a Champlain Game Design student, you will develop extensive game design skills in your area of interest and build an impressive portfolio of collaborative work as you prepare to enter the game industry.
Qualities of a Game Design Major:
Joe ManleyProgram Director(802) email@example.com
You can apply your skills as a Game Designer to many different facets of game development, choosing to focus on the storyline and narrative, creating individual levels of a game, or bringing concepts together to create playable game structures. The collaboration that happens in the Game Studio between game artists, designers, programmers, and producers will give you game-specific collaboration experience that it normally takes years of working in the industry to achieve. A number of recruiters attend our annual Senior Game Show and conduct interviews of Game Design graduating seniors whose portfolio reels were the most promising. Our game industry specific Career Coach will help you with your search. Careers in Game Design include:
Champlain Game Design majors are in high demand and many find employment in AAA companies as well as indie studios.
“Your job as a game designer, first and foremost — after, you know, actual game design — is working with your team and getting your team to work with you. The friendlier you are, the more you’re able to work with other people, the more success you’ll find. And often it’s better to have a game that everyone enjoys than just one that you think you will enjoy.”
Game Design requires a broad range of knowledge from psychology to game engine scripting. You will find this depth throughout the curriculum and you’ll have plenty of options to specialize in Game System Design, Level/Content Design, or Narrative Design.
What’s the difference between an FPS and an RPG? Are discovery and exploration important in every style of game, or can they detract from a cool game concept? We answer these questions by examining genres in games and analyzing some of the gameplay styles associated with them. Then, once we’ve discovered strengths and weaknesses inherent to particular game styles, we’ll develop skills necessary to formulate and evauluate our own original gameplay ideas.
Game History is an integrated, cross-disciplinary hands-on history class where students actively research the evolution and history of games through the lenses of design, art, technology, business, society and culture. Working with resources from the Game History Teaching Collection, and from the perspective of their discipline as a game developer, students will play, study and research historical to contemporary games. In this way, students will discover the nexus of relationships driving game development.
Game designers need an essential skill set that allows them to realize their concepts through working prototypes. In Game Technology I students learn how to develop and manipulate game mechanics and environments through visual and traditional scripting tools. This class is the first in a series that supports skills needed for level editing and design, prototyping, and working in game engines.
A level designer controls moment by moment what a player sees, hears and feels during the game experience. Following the broader direction of the game designer, the level designer creates the setting and crafts the challenges for each individual level. The style and content of individual game levels must establish the right mood, support the anticipated functionality, advance the storyline, and satisfy the idiosyncratic requirements of the players. Building on the design foundation of Conceptual Design, this course teaches students how to successfully design, draft, document, and implement successful game levels.
Acquire the integration skills needed to successfully build a 3D game. In Game Engine I we explore both the technical construction and practical design of games in a 3D game engine. The technical skills required to use the game engine software are combined with knowing how and when to use spaces in a level, construct an interface, establish moods, and direct a player’s attention through sound effects, lighting, camera angles, and text to create a complete working game.
At the core of every game experience are the systems that generate that experience. In this advanced game design course, we will examine a full spectrum of game experiences and deconstruct their systems. We will look at the many facets of creating a player-centric game experience from the cultural significance of games and play to conceptualizing and proving concepts for a broad range of game media target markets and purposes.
The college capstone is an opportunity for students to pursue a self-directed experience in their professional program that intentionally integrates their liberal learning in the Core curriculum with their program learning. In addition to the substantive professional-based hands-on project in this class, the capstone will include a professional ethics component and a self-evaluation/self-reflection component.
Looking to land a job as a game designer? In today’s fast changing industry, you’ll need to demonstrate top-notch skills, get attention, and stand out from the crowd. This class allows you to define, refine, and develop an individual body of work that will capture the attention of hiring managers. Emphasis is on presentation, editing, and organization of a personal portfolio, under the guidance of faculty to ensure a professional product.
As a Game Design major specializing in Sonic Arts, you’ll learn how to implement and maintain an effective sonic landscape that will enrich the interactive experience of the games you create. The hands-on sound production courses will introduce you to audio techniques, covering the basics of writing, producing, and engineering productions. Toward the end of the concentration sequence, courses will have a specific emphasis on the creative and artistic approaches to sound design.
A comic about reincarnation; a ghostly cat explores Baltimore
An expansive forest level for the game Polaris Postal Service.
A blog-style video on how I used NPCs in This Halloween Knight
Created using Maya, Substance, and Unreal Engine 4.
Junkpunk Arena: Carnival Level. A cut level for my senior game.
Created using 3ds Max and Unreal Engine 4.
Install Wizard is an exciting twin-stick shooter/dungeon crawler in which you use your digital sorcery to zip around and fight within corrupted programs.
Build the robot of your dreams, then have it torn apart in the online battle arena.
Live/Wire is a competitive arena FPS with a sci-fi edge. Players wield electricity-powered guns and a recharging plug that doubles as a grappling hook.
Overgrown is a fast paced resource management game in which you have to keep a multitude of houseplants alive.
Polaris Postal Service is a first-person, narrative-driven game where players deliver mail to inhabitants of a breathtaking forest, navigating using the stars.
Scorch is a noir-inspired stealth, FPS. Takedown thugs as you try to break away from your former life. Stalk the shadows, gather evidence and get out.
By deepening your understanding of programming, Game Design majors will become better equipped to work collaboratively with programmers to bring their ideas to life. You’ll be able to create stronger game features and will develop a stronger understanding of the architecture that underpins a game.
A minor in Interactive Narrative will help Game Design majors deepen their knowledge and appreciation of digital storytelling. Learn to research and develop narratives, challenge your own assumptions about a storyline, and create plot lines that are unique and compelling. Discover the process of developing rich stories from beginning research through final revision, learning to craft your stories until they are strong throughout.
Game Design Major
Game Design Major
What made you choose your major?
Video games have always been one of my most cherished passions. It was always my dream to be able to create fun and immersive game experiences that make lasting impressions on players throughout the world. The Game Design major at Champlain was the first step in achieving that dream, and after seeing people have fun playing my games, I can safely say that I’ve been living the dream with my major!
How has the Upside-Down Curriculum enhanced your education?
The Upside-Down Curriculum put me right into the swing of actual game development and design from day one. From my first day at Champlain until the present, I’ve been learning about how to make game experiences on paper, prototype and iterate on them to receive feedback, and use that feedback to bring designs to life. Without ever having to wait to see if my major was right for me or not, I knew from day one that I was in the right program!
How has your Champlain experience prepared you for your future career, both in and out of the classroom?
My experience at Champlain has effectively prepared me for a career in the game industry through classes that not only teach design theory and principles, but also require hands-on creation and implementation of ideas and concepts in solo settings and within multidisciplinary teams. The experience I’ve gained working on games with teammates from different disciplines and walks of life is the real deal, and is quite possibly the closest you can get to actually working in a real game development job!
Being thrown into teams and development processes immediately at the start of my college career helped me confirm that game design was something I actually wanted to commit to. Without having hands on experience, I feel like we wouldn’t have the chance to understand our future careers nearly as well, not to mention we wouldn’t be as prepared for professional lives after graduation.
What projects have you worked on in classes that you’ve found particularly rewarding/useful?
There are too many to choose from! One game I worked on in the spring of my junior year was a survival game called Lymantria Dispar. It offered me a fascinating challenge when it came to developing and implementing a narrative that, while it wasn’t the focus of the gameplay, really added to the game and improved replayability. I might have torn my hair out a bit trying to develop a variable narrative based on the order players picked items up in, but I was very proud of my work at the end.
Can you tell us about your internships?
After my sophomore year, I interned at Rooster Teeth as the ScrewAttack Writing intern, which meant I contributed to a bunch of scripts that were being published to their YouTube channel (which is now named DEATH BATTLE!). I was able to write solo pieces even as an intern, and when it came time for me to go back to school they kept me on as a contracted writer, which is something I’m still doing! The fall of my junior year, I went abroad to Montreal and interned with Double Stallion as one of two Game Writing Interns. This meant I got to research for their IPs as well as contribute to not only their games’ story and flavor, but also help out with their social media by writing tweets! If you happened to follow that company and you saw a bunch of cryptic tweets about the enemies from their gam, Speed Brawl, taking over the world… that was the interns!
The Game Design major requires you to submit a portfolio of your work. What are we looking for? Simply, we want to see you design something. We are looking for creativity, innovation, and we want you to demonstrate your ability to deconstruct a game and then re-envision it into something new and exciting. Important points to consider:
You may wish to enhance your application with additional materials. These are not required, but are recommended. Game designers need a broad range of skills from programming to visual design. Show us some of your other skills as they apply to communicating your idea. Follow the link below for more information on Game Design portfolio requirements.
Game designers need diversity in their education and experiences. Here is a list of some suggested areas of study and exploration:
Champlain awards course credit for AP courses taken with completed exams, including Computer Science, Calculus, Statistics, and more. Follow the link below for more information from our admissions team.
There’s a tremendous sense of community in the Game Studio. All our majors are challenging and demanding, but we’re all in this together, and you really get a sense of that.
Portfolio Tips from our Game Art Grads
Explore Your Passion for Video Games With the Summer Game Academy—Virtual Edition
Champlain College Featured in The Princeton Review’s Ranking of Top Game Design Schools 2021
Champlain Named a “Most Innovative School” by U.S. News & World Report
Student-Led Gaming Invention Awarded Champlain College’s First Patent
The Game Studio at Champlain College is the premier program for students looking to get a professional game development experience from day one of their education. Take major-specific classes and learn the skills and techniques that go into building your favorite games. Work as a team with other game students and construct fully functional games that you can download, play, and publish. By graduation, you’ll be prepared to succeed in a rewarding career in game development. At the Game Studio, we don’t simulate what game development could look like—we put you in the middle of the real game studio experience.
We’ll send you Game Studio info plus a game art poster designed by our students when you fill out this form.