Although there are only eight listings in one national ranking of video game design schools, you might flesh out a top-ten list on your own because the Princeton Review checked out 50 schools. The website A Digital Dreamer also ranked video design schools. It created a top-five list. One school made it on both lists: The Art Institute of Vancouver. Some of the schools offer online programs and multiple locations
USC and DigiPen Institute of Technology
The Princeton Review ranks the University of Southern California No. 1 among video game design programs at U.S. colleges and universities. It is a minor program (meaning no majors are offered) that integrates cinema and information technology. Students learn level design, game-play control, user interface, game mechanics and storytelling. Students create a working demo of a video game.
University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts University Park, SCA 465 Los Angeles, CA 90089-2211 213-740-2804 cinema.usc.edu
The DigiPen Institute of Technology in the Seattle suburb of Redmond, Wash., is ranked No. 2 among game design schools. It offers a bachelor's degree in video game programming including real-time interactive simulation. It also offers degrees in computer engineering, game design and production animation.
DigiPen Institute of Technology 5001-150th Ave. NE Redmond, WA 98052 425-558-0299 or 866-478-5236 digipen.edu
Drexel University, Becker College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Drexel University in Philadelphia is ranked third on the Princeton Review list. The school's digital media program offers a game art and production major that focuses on design skills, art, programming, 3-D modeling, animation, audio and video production and the use of industry tools such as Maya.
Drexel University University City Main Campus 3141 Chestnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19104 215-895-2000 drexel.edu
Becker College in Worcester, Mass., and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., are fourth and fifth on the Princeton Review list. Becker College's game design courses include History of Game Development and Introduction to Game Design and Storyboarding Animation. Courses in Rensselaer's Games and Simulation Arts Program include Visual and Aural Aspects of New Media in the Electronic Arts, Cognition and Artificial Intelligence in Cognitive Science, Digital Graphics and Software Development in Computer Science, and Experimental Game Design in Psychology.
Becker College 61 Sever St. Worcester, MA 01609 508-791-9241 becker.edu
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 110 Eighth St. Troy, NY 12180 518-276-6575 hass.rpi.edu
The Art Institute of Vancouver
The Art Institute has locations across North America including Vancouver, British Columbia, which was ranked No. 6 by the Princeton Review. Course topics include image manipulation, creative storytelling, 3-D modeling and texture mapping.
The Art Institute of Vancouver 2665 Renfrew St. Vancouver, BC V5M 0A7 800-661-1885 artinstitutes.edu/vancouver
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass., is No. 7 on Princeton's list. Courses include Critical Studies of Interactive Media and Games, which introduces nontechnical studies of computer-based interactive media and games. Other courses include Philosophy and Ethics of Computer Games and The Art of Animation.
Interactive Media & Game Development Worcester Polytechnic Institute 100 Institute Road Worcester, MA 01609-2280 508-831-5947 imgd.wpi.edu
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge combines hands-on activities with theory. Alumni have gone on to jobs as game designers, producers and executives at game studios, including Electronic Arts, Activision and Midway. It is ranked eighth on Princeton's list.
Comparative Media Studies Massachusetts Institute of Technology 77 Massachusetts Ave., Bldg. E15-331 Cambridge, MA 02139-4307 617-253-3599 cms.mit.edu
Westwood College is based in Denver and has 17 locations in six states. It offers a bachelor's that focuses on art and animation techniques. The emphasis is on 2-D artistry, 3-D modeling and animation, and how to apply critical thinking, logic, communications and problem-solving skills to game industry issues. Online courses also are available.
Westwood College-Denver North 7350 N. Broadway Denver, CO 80221 800-281-2978 westwood.edu 800-281-2978
ITT Technical Institute
ITT Technical Institute has a Digital Entertainment and Game Design Program at its School of Drafting and Design. Course topics include gaming technology, game design process and animation. ITT has more than 100 locations nationwide as well as online programs.
ITT Technical Institute itt-tech.edu/contact
- blue computer gaming pad image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com