School of Media, Culture & Design

Game Art & Design

Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.)

Ranked 10th regionally and 38thnationally by Animation Career Review, the Game Art & Design program teaches how to conceptualize and develop video games from scratch. The degree combines art, animation, computer technology, sound design, story development and game design. Imagine it, Make it. Play it. It’s your game!

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Design Your Future

Are you a game designer, or are you a game artist? We have a specialized track for each of these. All Game Art & Design students take game courses together while they also begin to drill down into their own art or design specialties. Game Art, focuses on two-dimensional and three-dimensional character, environmental design, and animation; and Game Design, focuses on elements such as game conceptualization, play mechanics, game rules, story, program flow, scoring systems, and prototyping. The Game Art & Design degree brings together art, animation, computer technology, sound design, storytelling, and game design. It aligns with both the Media Technology and the Animation programs, sharing many courses in their major sequence. You will work together in a cross-disciplinary team environment of artists and designers that mirrors the professional world. You will learn to meet the challenges of rapidly changing technology, both in the production and distribution of today’s video games. You will focus your professional skill set, as you discover and develop your own creative voice.

Top reasons to come to Woodbury:

  • We are physically surrounded by many commercial game development studios, both large and small.
  • We are crazy mad about video games.
  • Small class sizes allow for hands-on, one-on-one interaction with our accomplished instructors.
  • National accreditation shows employers the high quality of our program.
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Internships & Careers

Internship opportunities:

  • Nickelodeon
  • NEXON
  • Code Headquarters
  • Lukewarm Media LLC
  • Cartoon Network
  • Big Boss Creative Inc.
  • Silent Legends Inc.
  • Containment Field
  • CJ Products

Internships are a required component of the BFA degree in Game Art & Design.

Career opportunities:

  • Environmental design and modeler
  • Character design and modeler
  • 3D character animator
  • Rigger
  • Story development for interactive media
  • Game designer
  • Game level designer
  • Scenario designer
  • Combat designer
  • User interface designer
  • R&D prototype developer
  • Game design documentation
Alumni Spotlight
Alumni

Andranik Aslanyan

Andranik is a technical game artist, software engineer and entrepreneur. He founded the independent software company Code Headquarters LLC in North Hollywood, where he serves as CEO and lead game programmer. He co-developed, released, and was responsible for the game system programming of “The Mean Greens” for Playstation4, Xbox One, and on Steam for Windows and Mac computers. 

Alumni

Jordyn Holland

Jordyn is a concept artist, 3D modeler, and game designer.  She specializes in imagining entire worlds, bringing those worlds to life with her conceptual drawings and expert 3D modeling skills.  She is currently working with Infinity Ward’s QA team on “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare”.

Facilities

Game Art & Design studio courses are held in computer labs and dedicated studios. Labs include Macs, PCs and Cintiq drawing tablets.

Courses

The curriculum examines all aspects of video game design and the creation of art and animation for games. Students may choose from two concentrations: Game Art, focusing on character and environmental design and animation; and Game Design, focusing on elements of design such as game conceptualization, play mechanic creation and prototyping.

GAME 101 Game Design Fundamentals 
The study of game design using digital and non-digital games, both old and new. We examine introductory design topics and expand into the areas of procedural thinking, ideation, game prototyping, the balance between chance and skill, an examination of various design theories, and the ethical considerations of game design. As the basis of student critiques, games will be played and broken down into their formal, dramatic, and dynamic structural elements. Individually and in teams, students will design and develop games that are play-tested and critically reviewed in class. Studio. Prerequisite: None.

GAME 105 3D Game Fundamentals 
Game art in three dimensions. An introduction to game production workflow techniques, time management, and the terminology of 3D design principles. Level-of-detail exercises will explore the concepts of polygon topology, image budgets, initial sketching and brainstorming, pre-visualization, hard surface construction, and spatial relationships with regard to the human factor of scale. Studio. Prerequisite: None.

GAME 106 Game Code Fundamentals
Coding: Where the rubber meets the road. An introductory course in computer game programming for game designers, game artists, and other non-engineers. Using game engine software, students will design and create original playable games through code. Focus is on describing and creating world-defining systems by applying a wide range of coding techniques that can be used to create any type of video game, from text adventures to more complex physics simulations. Studio. Prerequisite: None.

GAME 112 Game Design Documentation
The life of a video game design from initial conceptualization to the final written production specification. We will trace the creation of an initial game idea through a High Concept and “pitch” phase to the writing of a Game Design Document (a.k.a. GDD). We will explore the purpose of design documentation, its maintenance, and its use in professional software development. Techniques for version control, the handling of design artifacts and redundant data will be practiced. Students will develop a GDD of their original concepts and prepare them for executive-style presentations.

GAME 114 Introduction to Game Engines
An examination of commercial software systems that aid in computer game development. This course is an exploration and analysis of visual development tools and reusable software components for game asset creation and management giving attention to 2D and 3D rendering performance, collision detection, simple scripting, animation, play mechanics, sound and music. Students will design and implement original game concepts and test for playability and design integrity. Studio. Prerequisite GAME 101, Game Design Fundamentals.

GAME 140 Environmental Design & Modeling 
Game artists learn to create worlds. An examination and practice of industrial and architectural design principles and pre-visualization workflow techniques for creating interior and exterior 3D assets to support game design courses. Students will use 2D and 3D software to design and build environments, set dressing, and vehicles. Continued practice with level-of-detail exercises will further develop polygonal hard-surface construction with the implementation of UV set techniques, function integrity, asset modularity, and spatial relationships with regard to the human factor of scale.
Studio. Prerequisite: GAME 105, 3D Game Fundamentals.

FILM 104 Sound Design
This studio course introduces the students to audio concepts, recording techniques, mixing and playback methodologies and software. The emphasis is concept design and audio composition via pre and post production processes of mixing audio tracks for the Animation, Game or Film student.

FOUN 101 Beginning Drawing
This is a fundamental course in freehand observational drawing. Various media and methods are introduced to develop perceptual and technical drawing skills. Through in-class projects and outside sketchbook practice, students study line, shape, form, proportion, perspective, and tone with an emphasis on spatial relationships and the effects of light on form. Drawing and composition are also studied as an opportunity to express conceptual content in individual design processes.

FOUN 102 Design and Composition
This course introduces students to the elements and principles of design and to the processes of design thinking. Formal visual properties of line, shape, form, pattern, value, texture, and sequence are studied in their relationship to content and compositional organizing systems. Studio exercises using various media explore concepts of balance, harmony, repetition, rhythm, scale, and time in two, three, and four-dimensional organizations. Emphasis is placed on developing creative design concepts, gaining practical problem-solving skills, and communicating project solutions visually and verbally. Examples of historical and professional art and design are presented so that students may recognize their influence on contemporary design and to relate their own design efforts to a larger cultural context.

FOUN 103 Color Theory and Interaction
This course investigates the principles, properties and interactions of color as well as the cultural and psychological implications of color across disciplines. A variety of media and sources are introduced through weekly exercises. Students will develop a working knowledge of additive and subtractive color systems, color mixing, and approaches to color harmony as well as an understanding of practical issues such as color matching, correction, and forecasting. Design thinking as it applies to visual communication is also considered in this course as an agent for mindfulness and engagement.

FOUN 104 Drawing Concepts & Composition
This course builds on the direct observational drawing skills gained in FOUN 101 Beginning Drawing. Color media and a variety of subjects including life models and exterior environments are explored through in-class projects and outside sketchbook practice. Emphases are placed on developing individual expressive sketch techniques, bringing a point of view to the drawing experience, and realizing the visionary opportunities for drawing in the innovative practice of art and design processes. The work of professional artists and designers is studied to provide additional context for this investigation.

FOUN 105 Introduction to Figure Drawing
Building on the observational drawing skills and methods gained in FOUN 101 Beginning Drawing, students in this course gain a practical understanding of the rhythms, proportions, movement, character, and anatomical structure of the human form. Through in-class study and outside sketchbook practice, additional emphasis is placed on developing the ability to visualize and adapt the human form for use in their design and related disciplines.

GAME 211 Level Design
The study and practice of composing 2D and 3D digital play environments. Students will break down components of select commercial game levels and evaluate their designs in terms of effective and ineffective constructs. Studio projects involve the creation of game levels that include top-down, platformer, horizontal/vertical scrollers, and first/ third person formats. Student-created levels will be play-tested in class and the success of their design intent will be assessed. Studio. Prerequisites:

GAME 221 Game Prototyping
Design assessment prior to production. Prototyping is that part of game development where designers and artists assess all aspects of a game design prior to full production. Attention is paid to issues of feasibility, practicality, and remedy of design flaws. Focus includes “fun factor,” development time, and overhead system resources. Techniques include paper prototyping, use of logic and flow charts, and advanced use of game engine software. Students will learn to prototype original game designs for group critique. Studio. Prerequisite: GAME 114, Introduction to Game Engines.

GAME 222 Game Player Analysis 
When creating a video game, development teams often lose sight of what they are doing and why, and who they are doing it for. We will focus on the game player and how game creators can “play to their audience.” We will identify the types of players, why people play computer games, analyze player psychology, their data profiles, audience diversity, and its impact on the consumer marketing of video games. Lecture. Prerequisite: GAME 102, Game Design.

GAME 332 Experimental Technology for Games
Will this be the future of video games? An examination of the technologies of perception used to create immersive game experiences in the fields of virtual reality, mixed reality, augmented reality and alternate reality. We will explore the devices that exist today for enhancing the user’s perceptual experience and the fundamentals of the human sensory apparatus that drives them. Students will design and implement immersive experiences for a range of technology platforms aimed at increasing the player’s sensory experience. Studio. Prerequisite: GAME 221, Game Prototyping.

GAME 237 Materials, Lighting, & Rendering 
The study of virtual light, texturing, and performance considerations. Students will explore game project development from initial concept to final production employing simulated, realistic lighting techniques to effectively convey the desired mood and ambiance of a scene. Further study includes
function integrity, composition, and 3D camera properties, such as depth of field, custom material channels, and specialized textures, with special attention to rendering performance considerations. Continued level of detail exercises will develop vertex coloring and texture baking techniques, ambient occlusion, global illumination, light exclusivity, shadow quality, image budgets, and advanced lighting systems and rendering techniques. Studio. Prerequisite: GAME 140, Environmental Design & Modeling.

GAME 238 Character Design & Modeling 
The creation of organic 3D models. Students will develop the knowledge and technical skills necessary to translate a concept into a digital 3D organic sculpture. Use of various alternative software will develop a clear understanding of how human anatomy relates to 3D organic modeling. Emphasis is on learning the industry standard best-practices for efficient polygonal organic modeling, proper construction of edge loops to create shape and form, the importance of multiple tile UV sets, retopology of high-resolution models, and 3D digital painting and texturing techniques. Studio. Prerequisite: GAME 237, Materials, Lighting, & Rendering.

GAME 309 3D Game Animation
Bringing life to three-dimensional objects. Students will study and practice the integration of 3D animation production methods and techniques used in today’s video game industry. Studies include the integration of motion-capture data and traditional key-frame animation into game engine production pipelines. Students will demonstrate how forward and inverse kinematics systems relate to body mechanics in order to effectively express a complex 3D animation network. Studio. Prerequisite: GAME 238, Character Design & Modeling.

GAME 321 User Interface Design 
Analysis of effective user interface design techniques and devices. Students will study the foundation of interaction design, graphic design, information architecture, and usability design to create effective video game interfaces. In addition to learning interface design methodologies and principles, students will also be introduced to industry standard software tools, along with contemporary UI design trends and practices in video game development. Students will produce several game interface design examples for their portfolio. Studio. Prerequisite: GAME 221, Game Prototyping.

GAME 323 Story Development
The unique qualities of narrative in interactive media and games. This course will cultivate students’ abilities to understand, interpret, and produce rich and sophisticated narrative video games. Students will be required to properly scope, prototype, play-test, produce, and polish a number of short-story games. Classes will consist of short lectures, ‘close playings’ and discussions of games, and in-class writing assignments. Activities include routine presentations of works-in-progress, ongoing play-test¬ing, and a consistent level of production. All of the short-story games will become portfolio pieces, but one in particular will be chosen by the student for extra attention and refinement, and will be exhibited at the end of the semester. Studio. Prerequisites: GAME 112, Game Design Documentation, GAME 221, Game Prototyping.

GAME 413 Serious Games 
The use of video game design techniques outside the entertainment industry. Video game technology is regularly used in many non-entertainment applications. This course looks at the use of games for education, training, and civically engaged experiences in fields such as medicine, physical therapy, psychology, government defense, fine arts, and aviation. Students will learn the concepts of instructional design, and how to assess the success of a game as a training and enrichment tool. Studio. Prerequisite: GAME 221, Game Prototyping.

 

GAME 224 History of Games II: 20th Century
The creation and evolution of video games in the twentieth century. We will examine the origin and development of digital games and their technology. Our study will begin with the World War II era and the invention of the electronic computing machine. Our exploration will continue with the early uses of electronics in games, the emergence of digital media in everyday life, the placement of powerful game computers in the home, and the creation and advances of the early Internet. Key games will be analyzed in terms of their social, cultural, and economic impact on our world. Lecture. GAME 224 and 226 may be taken in any order. Prerequisites: WRIT 112, Academic Writing II, or WRIT 212, Rhetoric and Design; and GAME 102, Game Design.

GAME 226 History of Games: Case Studies
The evolution of the video game industry and its impact on American culture. We will explore the renaissance of PC games via digital distribution and browser games, the mobile games industry from its early years through the touch-screen revolution, and the disruption created by both the emergence of the direct-to-consumer business model and changes in the global economy. We will analyze key games and trends in terms of their social, cultural, and business impact on our world. Lecture. GAME 224 and 226 may be taken in any order. Prerequisites: WRIT 112, Academic Writing 2, or WRIT 212, Rhetoric and Design; GAME 102, Game Design.

GAME 254 Procedural Content in Games 
The study of the automatic creation of game content during runtime. In some video games, procedural methods have been traditionally used to generate unique game levels, rules, and quests each time a game is played. Future applications are driven by recent industry developments and experimental techniques for generating art textures, special visual effects, sound effects, music, puzzles, and narrative. Studio projects involve hands-on prototyping, scripting, and experimentation to produce the desired procedural results. Studio. Prerequisites: GAME 112, Game Design Documentation, GAME 114, Introduction to Game Engines.

GAME 302 Game Capstone Research Seminar
Research and pre-production in preparation for the Capstone experience. Through lectures, self-directed study, and research, students working in teams develop a Proposal and Project Plan for their Capstone Project. Proposals include comprehensive game art and design specifications, in addition to production schedules for each project presented. Students experience overall project development and management, including asset creation, documentation, and pre-production processes. Approved Proposals will be produced in the senior year’s Game Capstone Studios I & II. Studio. Prerequisites: Consent of department chair, GAME 250, Portfolio Review.

GAME 431 Game Capstone Studio 
Putting it all together: Part 1 of 2. Students implement their project plan for an original interactive work that was developed and approved in the previous semester’s Game Capstone Research Seminar. Special attention will be paid to the effective use of technology, schedule slippage, high-risk areas, weekly progress, play-testing, iteration, and the practicality of the original design intent. Studio. Prerequisites: Consent of department chair, GAME 302, Game Capstone Research Seminar.

GAME 432 Game Capstone Studio II 
Putting it all together: Part 2 of 2. Student teams integrate their individual focuses in game art, game design, and game development software to complete their capstone production of an original video game or other interactive media. Capstone projects are presented and assessed in a final faculty review. Assessment points include effective and creative use of technologies, problem solving, design thinking, fun factors, and success of their project management planning. Students are responsible for a written self-evaluation of their project, analyzing design, art, coding, project goals, and their level of success. Studio. Prerequisites: Consent of department chair, GAME 431, Game Capstone Studio I.

GAME 434 Professional Practices of the Game Industry
Current professional practices in the game industry with focus on entry into the job market. Students will study the economics, job market, and structure of the game industry. Topics include the roles and skill sets within production teams, and the creative processes practiced within industry disciplines. Busi¬ness practices, including planning, media & digital publishing, marketing, and entrepreneur opportunities will be explored. Students will prepare professional project portfolios and resumes appropriate to the entry position sought in the video game industry. Faculty will evaluate materials in terms of creativity and quality of presentation. Studio. Pre¬requisite: GAME 431, Game Capstone Studio I.

GAME 490 Internship
120 hours of work experience in the video game, entertainment, or interactive industry is required to graduate. Students must be at least in their junior year and in good academic standing to apply. The application process is the completion of a Game Art & Design Internship Contract signed by their faculty advisor, the department chair, and the host company’s supervisor. Grades are Pass/Fail and are based on a signed evaluation form from the company’s supervisor, and an internship journal maintained by the student. The journal details their hours, what they learned about the industry, and their expectations and thoughts on the experience. Students will formally share their findings with classmates. Prerequisites: Consent of chair, Game Art & Design majors only.

ANIM 161 Introduction to Digital Media
This studio course introduces students to the fundamental computer applications and processes used for digital media production. Emphasis on software programs dealing with imaging, drawing and painting, editing, compositing, motion graphics, raster, and vector artwork. Studio. Prerequisite: None.

ANIM 204 Sophomore Studio II: Layout
This is a studio course in the fundamentals of animation layout and pictorial composition as staged environments for animated characters. Topics will include perspective, lighting and tone, issues of style, architectural elements, natural elements, and props as visual storytelling devices. The artist’s statement for the sophomore year Progress Portfolio will be completed in this class. Studio. Prerequisites: FOUN 101, Beginning Drawing; ANIM 203, Sophomore Studio I; and FOUN 104, Drawing Concepts and Composition.

ANIM 210 Design Symposia
Students will attend lectures, exhibitions, or events exploring a variety of topics in design. Both on- and off-campus events are encouraged. Lecture. Prerequisite: None.

ANIM 221 Character Animation
This course focuses on the examination and exploration of the figure, both nude and clothed, as a reference for creating animated characters, sequential studies, and caricature. Studio. Prerequisite: ANIM 203, Sophomore Studio I: Animation; ANIM 102, Beginning Figure Drawing; or FOUN 105, Introduction to Figure Drawing.

ANIM 262 Introduction to 3D Computer Animation
This course will focus on instruction in the fundamental principles of animation as applied to three-dimensional digital animation. Emphasis on the basic processes of modeling, texturing, lighting, and rendering. Students will create a series of simple animations, and model and light simple props using 3D software. Prerequisite: ANIM 161, Introduction to Digital Media.

ANIM 340 Visual Development
Students examine and explore composition, lighting, color, style, character design, and various painting techniques as components of animation development and visual storytelling. Emphasis is placed on techniques used by professional development artists and illustrators in the animation industry. Prerequisites: ANIM 221, Character Animation; ANIM 204, Sophomore Studio II: Layout.

ANIM 361 3D Computer Animation I
This is an intermediate studio course in 3D computer applications. Topics include modeling, rigging, and techniques of character animation using 3D computer software. Students will create projects using both character and camera animation, and explore lighting and texturing. Studio. Prerequisite: ANIM 262, Introduction to 3D Computer Animation.

TECH 101 Technology and Culture I
A foundation course composed of introductory modules focused on theoretical and applicable topics in art, science, and technology. Technology is inextricably a part of our lives, and yet it is increasingly difficult to define. As we explore new frontiers, our technologies may outpace our ability to predict their social, cultural, or environmental impacts. This course, part one of a two semester sequence, centers on the history of technologies, their role in catalyzing disruptive change, and what we can learn by examining today’s cutting edge from a historical perspective. Part 1 of a 2-semester sequence. Lecture.

TECH 102 Technology and Culture II
A foundation course composed of introductory modules focused on systems-thinking as a way to further understand technology’s role in cultural formation. Building on the previous semester’s exploration, this course introduces systems-thinking as a powerful analytical tool in understanding technology. Systems-thinking forces us to acknowledge the ethical, operational, and structural implications of our technological choices, and provides a window into the potential for purpose-driven technological innovation. The course provides a rigorous introduction to the systems lens and asks students to apply such thinking to their own uses of technology. Students will complete regular writing assignments, culminating in a semester research paper. Part two of a two-semester sequence. Lecture. Prerequisite: TECH 101, Technology and Culture I.

TECH 103 Media Technology Lecture Series
The Media Technology Lecture Series features practitioners from a wide range of creative and scientific fields, all of whom incorporate technology at the core of their professional inquiry. Open to the entire Woodbury community, this course aims to foster dialogue around the increasing role of technology in society, its application across a diverse range of professional practices, the resulting explosion of creative and expressive modes of production, and the ethical and moral dilemmas that have emerged as technology has evolved. Lecture.

University accredited by:

NASAD: National Association of Schools of Art & Design
WSCUC: Senior College and University Commission (formerly WASC)