Rochester Institute of Technology

Academic Program Overviews

Student Skills & Capabilities, Salary Data, Career Information 

Game Design and Development BS

Program Overview

Rochester Institute of Technology offers the world-renowned Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Game Design & Development in the School of Interactive Games & Media (IGM), housed in the Golisano College of Computing & Information Sciences (GCCIS). It is also possible to obtain both degrees in five years through the BS/MS degree program option, which allows for a 3 course overlap between the degrees.
 
The BS and MS programs rank nationally in the top ten in the Princeton Review, and alumni from the program work throughout the game and computing industries. The college also offers three undergraduate minors: Game Design & Development to students in GCCIS and Computer Engineering, Game Design to students in other majors, and Free & Open Source Software & Free Culture (FOSS) to all RIT students.

Students pursue a rigorous and technically demanding curriculum to prepare for employment on game design and development teams in the game industry. With an emphasis on game programming, students learn the breadth of development and design processes. Students can further specialize in game design, production, engines & systems, graphics programming & animation, mobile, web, and more.
 
The degrees target students that aspire to hold careers within the professional game industry or related fields, such as simulation and visualization. Students work individually and in teams throughout both degrees. Students are expected to be both capable and diligent in the co-operative construction of their projects using industry standard processes and procedures.

Degrees Awarded

  • Bachelor of Science in Game Design & Development
  • Master of Science in Game Design & Development
  • Minors in Game Design & Development, Game Design, FOSS

Enrollment

  • Approximately 800 undergraduate students

Cooperative Education & Experiential Education Component

  • Approximately 30 graduate students

Salary Information

Co-op:        $15.00                                  $7.50 - $44.00
BS:              $65,000                                $27,000 - $110,000
MS:             $80,000                                $50,000 - $95,000

Student Skills & Capabilities

Bachelor Students: By the end of the second year, students will have worked individually and collaboratively in C#, Unity, and C++, developing a portfolio of game projects and prototypes. Students continue in their Junior and Senior years building games and engines from scratch using C++ and other languages. A variety of courses cover game physics, tools development, 3D-modeling and animation, graphics APIs, software practices, mobile development, advanced systems concepts, group management, and a variety of specialties that students can choose.
 
Master Students: Students from a variety of technical backgrounds enter this program to delve more deeply into game design and development. Students take core courses in game design, processes, and prototyping while expanding their specialty knowledge in topics ranging from engine development to narrative. The culmination of the degree is a team-based capstone project with team sizes ranging from around 5 to 15 students.

Equipment & Facilities

In addition to the exemplary computing facilities found throughout the College of Computing, IGM provides students access to multiple separate laboratory facilities.  These labs are equipped with a variety hardware from Alienware® to ensure a mix of several processor types, hardware configurations, the Adobe® and Autodesk® production suites, the Android Studio IDE,  MacOS computer hardware, the Xcode IDE, graphics boards from competing vendors in a true development and testing environment, and other industry standard development tools.

Nature of Work

Game developers make a living creating the games you enjoy playing. Creating games is complex and requires the collaboration of many workers, who perform a variety of tasks, from production to programming. They work for both small and large game studios to create games that can be played on many different devices, including console systems, computers, and cell phones. Designers are video game dreamers. To develop a game, teams of designers write detailed descriptions of their ideas, including plot, characters, and gameplay. Designers work closely with programmers and artists to ensure that their designs are being followed. Lead designers collect and organize the design teams’ ideas into a cohesive game design document. Content designers, who are creative, develop the game’s plot and its characters. Game mechanic designers focus on specific, vital pieces of gameplay. Level designers create the game’s fantastic or realistic environments, selecting the objects and characters that inhabit them. Writers create the text and dialogue that immerse players in the game. Programmers build video games from the ground up: writing code, line by line, in computer programs. Artists breathe life into games. They design a game’s aesthetic, or visual style, and create all of its artwork, including environments, characters, and objects. Other jobs may include Modeler, Animator, Audio worker, Producer and Quality Assurance Tester.

Training / Qualifications

The ability to work well as part of a team is expected of game developers. A big part is being able to articulate ideas clearly to team members so communication skills are important. Workers must be adaptable to making changes and work well under pressure. A college degree in game design, game development, or computer science is helpful. Game designers need some background in programming and knowledge of scripting languages. Level designers frequently use 3D modeling programs. Programmers must be experts in the programming languages and operating systems used in game development. Educational requirements for video game artists vary, but most artists have attended art school and understand modern art making tools, such as modeling and editing software. Many of these positions require a portfolio, which showcases a person’s experience and talent.

Job Outlook

The video game industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the U.S. Getting an entry-level job at a large studio is difficult and many prospective workers enter the industry through alternative paths. As the tools for making games become more accessible, aspiring developers are better able to build portfolios. A designer may make a small, original game or modify an existing one. An artist might create artwork in the style of his or her favorite game. Getting a job at a large studio isn’t the only option. Many developers work for small studios that create the increasingly popular games for social media and mobile devices. These games are shorter and simpler to make, providing workers an excellent opportunity to become developers. Another useful strategy for breaking into the video game industry is to visit the websites, blogs, and online forums that developers frequent.

Job Titles

Game Developer; Game Designer; Mechanic Designer; Level Designer; Programmer; Artist; Modeler; Animator; Audio Worker; Producer; Quality Assurance Tester; Art Director; Concept Artist; User Interface Programmer; Tools Programmer; Network Programmer; Graphics Programmer; Artificial Intelligence Programmer; Lead Programmer, Developer, Software Engineer, Mobile Engineer, Interactive Developer.

Employment

The average compensation for direct employees is $95,000 resulting in total national compensation of more than $4 billion. California, Texas, Washington, New York, and Massachusetts currently have the highest number of video game jobs. Collectively, companies in these states directly employ more than 30,000 workers and boast 71 percent of the industry’s total direct employment. Computer and video game companies provide jobs to more than 230,000 people in 50 states. (Source:  Entertainment Software Association)
(Source:  Entertainment Software Association)

Significant Points

  • From 2009 to 2012, the interactive entertainment software industry grew at an annual rate of nearly 10 percent. Over the same period, the entire U.S. economy only grew by 2.4 percent.
  • The video game industry added nearly $6.2 billion to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2012. (Source: Entertainment Software Association)

Selected Employer Hiring Partners

Activision, Amazon, Big Huge Games, Blindlight, Blizzard, Boeing, Darkwind Media, Dreamkind, Electronic Arts, Eidos,
1st Playable, FOX Interactive, Garage Games, Helixe, High Moon Studios, Linden Lab, Lockheed-Martin, Maxis, Microsoft, Microsoft Game Studios, Net Devil, Nickelodeon, Northrup Grumman Undersea Systems, MITRE, Public Broadcasting Station (PBS), Red Storm, Riot, Rockstar, Roblox, Second Avenue Software, Sledgehammer, SONY Computer Entertainment of America (SCEA), SONY Online Entertainment (SOE), Squaresoft, THQ, Valve, Vicarious Visions, Volition, Workinman, Zephyr Games, Zynga, and many more!

Contact Us

We appreciate your interest in your career and we will make every effort to help you succeed. Feel free to contact Annette Stewart, the career services coordinator who works with the Game Design & Development program. You can access information about services through our web site at www.rit.edu/careerservices.

Annette K. Stewart, Career Services Coordinator,This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 585.475.5466
Rochester Institute of Technology . Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education
Bausch & Lomb Center
57 Lomb Memorial Drive . Rochester NY  14623-5603
585.475.2301

Unless otherwise noted, information is based upon data collected by RIT Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education.