The NYU Game Center is the Department of Game Design at the Tisch School of the Arts – where students come from around the world to study the design, production and scholarship of games in a context of advanced critical literacy. As part of the Tisch School, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with film, television, theater, dance, and other forms of artistic human expression.
The Game Center is also a nexus for the New York City game community, where the industry’s cutting edge meets groundbreaking creative research. Whether you are here as a full-time student, or just dropping by to take part in a workshop, lecture, or tournament, it’s an amazing place to study games.
The Game Center MFA is a 2-year Masters of Fine Arts degree in Game Design that explores the design, analysis, and development of games as a creative practice. In our program, students create and study games to become industry leaders, experimental game artists, and trailblazing writers, theorists and curators. Over the two years, students find their voices as creative practitioners working on individual and group game projects, as well as through rigorous scholarly study of the theoretical and cultural aspects of games, all within the thriving community that is the NYU Game Center.
The program begins with a carefully crafted curriculum that covers game design, digital game programming and development, game studies and scholarship, and a historical survey of games on and off the computer. In the remaining semesters, students direct and shape their own study by choosing a variety of Game Center electives, along with courses from the Tisch School of the Arts and across New York University. The MFA culminates in a 1-year thesis, which can take the form of a collaborative or solo game, an event or exhibition, paper or website, or any other kind of game-related research project.
Our students come from all over the world and from every background imaginable. Some hail from traditional game development areas like programming or animation – but many of our students come from film, philosophy, literature, economics, and just about any field you can imagine. What unites them all is creative talent, critical thinking, and a passion for making and studying games. On a practical level, every student that asks for financial aid gets assistance in some form. And we work hard to connect our students with internships and jobs, both during their stay at NYU and in their careers afterwards.
Find out more about the program here.
Game Design BFA
The Game Center BFA is a 4-year Bachelors of Fine Arts degree program that teaches the fundamentals of game design, game development, and critical scholarship. If you love games and you want to make them the focus of your career after college, the Game Design BFA is for you. Over the course of four years, you will learn about the theory and practice of making games on and off the computer. This includes everything from the history and scholarship of games to the psychology of player experience to the mathematics of game rules. Our graduates will be the game creators, critics, and scholars that will change the industry and the set the world on fire with play.
The focus of the BFA program is the rigorous study of games as a serious form of art. Creating games requires a wide range of skills, from visual design and animation to music and audio design, to programming and game design, to writing and storytelling, to production management and business strategy. How will you fit in? In the BFA Game Design program, all students begin by learning the fundamentals across a variety of fields. As you progress, you will find your own creative voice and decide how you want to focus your studies and your creative energies. Our curriculum is broad and deep, letting you focus on game programming, game design, visual design for games, game criticism, or other areas.
Good game designers have well-rounded educations. Being a student at New York University means that you will have access to world-class professors in other departments in NYU’s Tisch School of Arts and across the entire university as a whole. And all of this will be taking place in New York City, one of the world’s cultural capitals. New York City has an amazing game design community, and the NYU Game Center is one of its hubs.
If you have a passion for games, we want you to apply. You do not need to be a hardcore gamer or an experienced programmer! Our students have all kinds of backgrounds and love all kinds of games – from sports to board games to video games – for all kinds of reasons. Find out more about our BFA program and the application process here.
The Game Center offers undergraduate courses in game design, game development, game studies and the history of games which are open to all NYU students during the academic year, and open to anyone during the summer. Our undergrad classes range from intensive academic seminars to hands-on development studios to play labs where students critically play games from a particular author or in a particular genre.
The NYU Game Center offers a Minor in Game Design, an 18-credit minor which requires a foundation in core Game Center courses, along with electives that cover a wide-range of subjects.
Our educational philosophy boils down to the simple but powerful idea of learning by doing. Our students and faculty come to understand games by playing them, discussing them, and making them. Game Center students are always producing work – whether that means scholarly essays, tabletop board games, digital games or organizing events and conferences.
Check out our growing archive of student projects here.
The NYU Game Center faculty represent some of the leading names in game design today. Frank Lantz and Eric Zimmerman are award-winning designers and entrepreneurs with decades of industry experience. Clara Fernández-Vara and Charles Pratt are defining forces in the emerging fields of game studies and criticism. Katherine Isbister and Bennett Foddy combine experimental design practice with innovative research on the experience of play.
Our part-time faculty includes many key players in the thriving NYC indie gaming scene, including Naomi Clark, Jesse Fuchs, Matt Parker, Phoenix Perry, Joost van Dreunen, and Robert Yang.
You can see a complete list of our faculty and staff here.
Life at the Game Center
A major hub for New York City’s game scene, the NYU Game Center is a place where students and faculty mix it up with game developers, players, critics, and fans. During the school year, we host multiple events each week, which range from lectures and workshops to exhibitions and tournaments – almost all of which are free and open to the public. The Game Center also organizes PRACTICE: Game Design in Detail, an annual game design conference that brings together luminaries from videogames, tabletop games, sports, and other fields for expert exchanges about game design.
Most of our classes and events take place at MAGNET, the Media and Games Network, which is located on the NYU Brooklyn campus. The MAGNET space is also home for the Game Center Open Library, the largest collection of games held by any university in the world. A large section of the MAGNET floor is a flexible workspace, and you can typically find Game Center students making and playing games out in the open – especially during our weekly playtest event.
MAGNET is a nexus for several programs across different schools at NYU. The Game Center represents Tisch School of the Arts – other programs in the space include Games for Learning and Educational Technology from the Steinhardt School Culture, Education, and Human Development; Integrated Digital Media and Computer Science & Engineering from the School of Engineering; the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences; and NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress.