You may wonder why an online game art and design degree program will be as good if not better than a similar program offered at a traditional university and the answer is that there isn’t much difference between the two. Online learning tools and platforms have come so far in the past decade that most online learning experiences are just as comprehensive and educational as a traditional learning experience. In addition, designing games is a team effort and will most likely be done with extensive use of computers and other forms of technology, which means that an interactive and collaborative online format will not only help you get adjusted to all of the computer tools used in game design, but it will also allow you to work more efficiently with other members of your team.
These programs will offer – in addition to the basic tenants of design – courses in programming and character design, game play, production quality, and story development as you immerse yourself in a complex and multi-layered field with a lot to learn.
Choosing an Online Game Art Design Degree Program
While online game art and design degree programs are still a relatively new phenomenon in the realm of online education, the number of accredited, high-quality game design programs has grown rapidly in recent years and more and more reputable institutions are considering adding an online game design program based on the success some of their counterparts are having. This is great news for the gaming industry because it will mean that more and more potential employees will enter the workforce armed with the knowledge and skills necessary to become an excellent game designer. But the proliferation of these programs also has made it more difficult for interested students to weed out the truly excellent programs from the merely adequate or sub-par programs.
The first thing you will want to do is ensure that the programs you are considering are accredited and because there isn’t a game design accrediting body, this can be a more arduous process than you might think. The best programs are all accredited, but it’s possible that the five programs you are considering are accredited by five different institutions. The easiest way to cover all your bases is to use the Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs. The Department of Education is responsible for governing the accrediting bodies themselves, so they cull together all the accredited programs and feed them into this constantly updated and easy to use database so that users can ensure they aren’t being scammed.
Once you have ensured that the programs you are interested in are accredited by a legitimate body, you will want to take a more nuanced look at the programs to ensure that the program you choose is the best one for your interests and learning style. Schools that specialize in design – such as the International Academy of Design and Technology – should definitely get a look as all of their programs are design-heavy and you know if that’s their specialty, then there is a strong likelihood that these design schools know what it takes to produce knowledgeable and talented game designers.
You also want to make sure that the program you choose has an intensive hands-on aspect to its curriculum. Too many online program pretenders think that they can convince students that slideshows, presentations and online lectures will help prepare them for a career in the field. But a field like game design involves a lot of learning by experience rather than by lecture, so you want to find a program that recognizes that and incorporates a lot of hands-on learning and experiential aspects into their curriculum.
Finally, you want to make sure the program has competent faculty. In fact, forget competent faculty, you want to make sure your online game art and design degree program has experienced, talented, and passionate professionals. Designing video games is not easy, and the best people to learn the industry from are people with experience, knowledge, and talent that come from years in the industry themselves. Not every professor needs to be a widely recognized game design expert, but your faculty should understand design thoroughly and they should have an understanding of how to prepare their students for the working world.
Online Game Art Design Course Types
Game Art and Design is no different from any other online subject in that the online game art and design course types mirror the types available for students at a traditional university. Students interested in the basics of game design would be wise to consider a certificate program that will open the door to the industry but won’t consume too much time or effort. More serious students should consider a more in-depth program like an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in the subject. The obvious rule of thumb to remember is that the more advanced and in-depth the degree, the more in-depth the courses and thus your knowledge will be as well.
While employers won’t require their employees to have a college degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most employers are looking for a designer with strong technical and programming skills and a solid portfolio of work experience. Both qualities can be achieved without a degree, but it may be easier to build a portfolio and enhance your technical skills with a formal education and training process.