Maybe you dream of people camping out in front of Best Buy, Wal-Mart or other stories for the newest release of a video game you helped create.
Or maybe you spend so much time playing everything from Halo Wars to Mario Kart Wii to Resident Evil 5, just a few of last year’s best-selling games, that you think you’re an expert.
Here’s more evidence that being a video game designer could be a lucrative and growing career field for you: The Princeton Review and GamePro Media this week unveiled their first-ever list of top 50 undergraduate video game design programs in the U.S. and Canada.
More colleges and universities are paying attention to this profession, and it shows that they recognize education and training are essential to being a successful game designer, not just playing a game nonstop or beating friends and strangers online.
The schools recognized stood out for their curriculum, faculty credentials, graduates’ employment, facilities, career achievements, infrastructure, financial aid, and career opportunities.
So, if you imagine yourself having a hand in designing the latest games for the Wii, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, now is the time to look at schools that could train you to develop the newest Wii Fit, NCAA Basketball (think of March Madness fever), Call of Duty or Madden NFL games.
So who is No. 1? That’s the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. GamePro notes that the school’s Interactive Media Division has helped launched careers of graduates who are well known in the indie gaming arena.
Others rounding out the top 8 are on both coasts. They are: DigiPen Institute of Technology (Redmond, Wash.), Drexel University (Philadelphia), Becker College (Worcester, Mass.), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, N.Y.), The Art Institute of Vancouver (Vancouver, B.C.), Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, Mass.), and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Mass).
Schools like Becker, which is 4th on the list, graduated their first class in the Game Design and Game Programming departments just last year, according to GamePro.
That shows that more schools are likely to be adding these programs, so it’s definitely worth asking if you’re interested in a school that doesn’t currently offer game design or other degrees.
Ready to play? Check out our info on salaries and job descriptions for game designers. That combined with the Princeton Review’s list of top programs could set you on the path to turning a pastime into an action-packed career.