A Description of the MS Degree Program
The Masters of Science in Game Design and Development defines a program of study that allows students to explore the entertainment technology landscape as well as other related areas. The program focuses its technical roots in the Computing and Information Sciences disciplines, while simultaneously covering the breadth of the development landscape through involvement in topics such as computer graphics, game engines, interactive narrative, and game world design. The program is characterized by a clear focus on development, but meets the industry need to graduate developers that will be involved in the design process from the beginning, just as they are in the professional field. The degree is intended specifically for students that aspire to hold careers within the professional games industry or a related field such as simulation, edutainment or visualization, and focuses on producing graduates that understand the technical roots of their medium, the possibilities that creative application of software development affords, and the way in which their industry operates.
The program is a 2-year, cohort-based program in which students are admitted through a portfolio review process and subsequently pursue a sequence starts with 3 mandatory classes in the Fall semester of the first year, plus a colloquium course. We believe that adding the colloquium course allows us to introduce new students to some “words of wisdom” from previous graduates of our program that work in industry as well as others that we’ve met that we believe will offer valuable insight into the industry. The three mandatory courses during the first semester will be a processes courses, a game design course, and a prototyping course. The processes course examines the work model and team expectations in the modern games industry. The game design course covers the principles and history of the field as well as the overarching design fundamentals that go into the creation of game experiences. Finally, prototyping addresses the industry need for rapid iteration over ideas. During the Fall semester, students work with the Graduate Coordinator and faculty within the School to determine a focus area. Unlike the old selection of major and minor courses that conform to specific classes, students will be able to choose their own progression to customize their study. Students choose 5 courses that work together to realize their goals. This will occur in the Spring of the first year and the Fall of the second year.
During the second year, students are organized into development teams that construct a working game engine and software title as a capstone experience, with both individual and group requirements. The capstone experience culminates in a private defense before program faculty as well as a public exhibition. The capstone project, the focus on team-based collaborative development, the seminar track on industry issues, and the applied nature of the coursework all work together to provide a comprehensive treatment of the subject.