You love games. You fill notebooks with your plans for video game levels you’d like to make. Or you spend entire weekends role-playing goofy adventures with your friends.
You run an online blog where you analyze the latest and greatest game releases. Or perhaps you just can’t stop doodling ideas for new video game characters.
You dominate your local card game tournament. Or maybe you just invent card games of your own.
We’ve got news for you: You finally found what you’re looking for. At the NYU Game Center, we take games seriously. As seriously as you do. We know games are strange and amazing and magical. And we live to understand them better and invent new forms of play. We’d like you to join us.
What is the Game Center BFA?
The Game Design BFA is a 4-year Bachelors of Fine Arts program. We are located inside NYU’s famous Tisch School of the Arts program, and like other Tisch programs in film, dance, and theater, we look at games as a creative form of art. Students in the BFA program learn about game design, game development, and game scholarship, preparing them for careers as game designers, developers, scholars, and critics.
The program structure first introduces you to the fundamentals of games through the lenses of design, technology, and culture. As you progress in the program, you have the flexibility to discover and pursue your own interests, taking courses that range from collaborative game production to critical analysis to specialized elements of visual and audio design. At the conclusion of your BFA study, you complete a senior project, either as an individual or with a group.
- A solid foundation. The required elements of the BFA curriculum covers the basics of making and understanding games on and off the computer. This includes courses like Games 101, an in-depth look at the history of games from ancient board games to the latest videogames, taught by our entire faculty.
- Broad and deep. The program emphasizes flexibility and choice. You can choose to focus in many areas, from game design to visual design, and from game programming to game scholarship. There are a wide array of classes from which you can mix and match your own education in games.
- Capstone. All students complete a senior Capstone – a one or two semester group or solo endeavor. A capstone project might be making a game on or off the computer, or could be a research paper, curated exhibition, or take any number of other forms.
- Integrated with the Game Center. The best thing about the Game Center BFA is that it is part of the larger NYU Game Center. Our faculty, staff, talks, workshops, resources, facilities, and events help make the program a world-class experience in the study of games.
The BFA in Game Design is a well-rounded, interdisciplinary degree that includes coursework in game studies, game design and game development, as well as the option to specialize in game programming, visual or audio design, and the business of games. All of the courses in the Game Design BFA program are organized in seven areas. Each area represents one facet of the complex interdisciplinary endeavor of making and studying games.
Game Studies – Academic, scholarly, and journalistic approaches to games
Game Design – Creating the rules of the game and the player experience
Game Development – Production processes for creating games
Programming – Interaction, graphics, AI, and other game programming
Visual Design – 2D and 3D animation, graphic design, and art direction
Audio Design – Music, sound effects, and audio programming
Game Business – Marketing, revenue models, and the game industry
During the final year, in addition to other advanced-level courses, each student will complete a senior capstone project. A Game Design BFA Capstone can take a variety of forms, from an individual or group game to a game-related research paper or exhibition.
The curriculum for the BFA program can be found here. One note, we apply the same iterative design process that we teach to our own program. That means the curriculum adapts and grows over time and this document may not be entirely up to date.
A Liberal Arts Education
At the Tisch School of the Arts we believe in the importance of a well-rounded undergraduate education: you need a great education to make great games. The Game Design BFA builds into the curriculum a firm foundation in the liberal arts. All Game Design students must complete a significant number of credits in a combination of expository writing, humanities, and social or hard sciences. Students are also required to take a production class in another Tisch department, to build familiarity in other styles of creative production.
Who should apply? How much does it cost?
Some of our applicants come with experience in making their own games, but you don’t have to be a life-long gamer or a programmer in order to apply. The most important thing you need for the BFA program is a passion for games and the dedication to turn that passion into something real. It takes all kinds of people with a diversity of talents to make games, so our classes have a rich mix of cultures, genders, and backgrounds.
To apply to the BFA in Game Design, you will need to apply to New York University. You will also be sending in a portfolio for us to review. Your portfolio can be anything you want, as long as it shows off your creativity for games. It could be a film you made or a story you wrote. It could be the rules for a card game or a prototype computer game. Or it could be a song you composed, sculpture you constructed, or play you wrote.
More information about the application process and the portfolio can be found here.
With regards to tuition and fees, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions provides a very helpful breakdown of costs here.
In the fall of 2019, 370 Jay Street became the new home of the Tisch departments Game Center, Clive Davis Institue of Recorded Music, and ITP & AMA alongside programs from Steinhardt in Games for Learning, Tandon School of Engineering in Integrated Digital Media and Computer Engineering, Courant Institute of Mathematics, and the Center for Urban Science and Progress. The stunning brand new space includes state of the art classrooms and studios, several black box theater, recording studios, 3D and large format printers, and the Game Center Open Library, all of which are available to Game Design BFA students. The integration of many different departments in one place leads to new collaborations across disciplines and schools at NYU.
Life after the Game Center
Our efforts don’t stop at the classroom door. Just as important as your education is what happens when you finish your time at NYU. A major focus of the NYU Game Center is making sure that you find internships and jobs during and after the BFA program, so that you are set up to create your dream career in games.
- Workshops and events – Each spring we host “Strategy Guide: Breaking into the Game Industry”, a panel discussion with studio heads and working Game Center grads that also doubles as a job fair.
- Making connections – The NYU Game Center is a hub for the game industry and on any given week, we have multiple industry speakers, guest critics in our classes, and local developers playtesting their games on site. There are lots of opportunities for students to network with working game industry professionals.
- The Game Center Incubator – Launched in 2014, the incubator provides space, funding, and expertise for graduating students. Through a competitive application process, the incubator selects projects that have commercial potential and sees them through to a public launch. More info on our incubator here.
- Help from NYU & Tisch – In addition to all of our game-centric efforts, students can also take advantage of NYU’s extensive Wasserman Career Center. The Tisch School of the Arts has its own Office of Career Development dedicated to helping students with creative careers. These two offices host regular sessions on a wide range of topics, from giving great job interviews to figuring out international work Visa issues.
Our students have received jobs and internships at top game companies, including Riot, Blizzard, Disney, and Avalanche Studios. They have received investment from Indiefund and have been honored with awards like IndieCade Audience Choice, multiple recognitions from the International Game Festival, and the Randy Pausch Scholarship. They have started their own companies, organized festivals, and written books. After the Game Center, our students transform the games industry for the better.
Visit the Game Center for a tour or info session, come to Tisch for a Fall Open House, or just give us a call. There are many ways to learn more about the program. Click here to find the best way for you to visit the Game Center.