For many international students, a love of playing video games has led to the decision to study game design in the US. However, with so many of the top schools for game design being inside the United States, international students deciding to study game design in the US will need some help identifying which program is the one for them—and decisions by mere rank alone isn’t enough. An institution’s rank, while important, does little to inform prospective students about the program’s specialization. This article identifies an international student’s chief means of distinguishing between the top schools for game design—their areas of specialization.
The best schools for game design in the US will be those that—in addition to their being renowned—equip a graduate to serve in their desired capacity on a game design team. Game design is a broad field and not all game design degrees are created equal. It is important for international students who want to study game design in the US to figure out in which capacity they would like to work on designing a game. For instance, would they rather work in graphic design, texturing levels or rendering objects, or would they rather supervise part of the production process? This knowledge will help determine which institutions represent the best schools for game design given a particular student’s career goals.
Institutional rankings are an excellent place to begin a school search. However, many of the best schools for game design in the world are located in the US. Therefore, the most significant criteria in deciding between the top schools for game design must be a student’s own, and priority should be given to those institutions whose specialization will equip the student to take on the role they desire on a design team upon graduation. For instance, a degree from Full Sail University will prepare its graduates for a number of roles on a design team, but they will be particularly versed in the overall production process of a game. Therefore, international students who study game design in the US with hopes of leading a production team or overseeing a team of developers should be particularly interested in a school like Full Sail. The focus on production is in contrast to a focus on graphic design, for example. Thus, it must ultimately be an international student’s personal criteria and career goals that distinguish between which of the top schools for game design represents the best choice for them.