Fundamental Classes Required for a Game Development Degree

Thinking about building a career in game development or game programming? Knowing more about the kinds of classes needed for these degree programs can help you understand what to expect.

When you have a game development degree or a game programming degree, you’ll have a world of jobs and opportunities to explore. Game development involves creating or designing characters and backgrounds for video games. You might end up working as a level designer, concept artist, UI/UX designer, or character artist with this kind of career.

Game programming involves handling the technical details of bringing the software for games to life, such as through the use of code. When you pursue this type of career, you’ll be taking many of the same courses as game developers or designers. However, you’re also likely to spend more time studying other areas as well, such as math.

Essential Courses for Game Development and Game Programming

No matter which career path you choose, you’ll be learning fundamental concepts and developing the required skills for your chosen field. You’ll also gain plenty of hands-on experience in development and design or programming throughout your degree program. The following courses are just some of the core ones that will likely be part of your education.

Becoming Familiar with the Basics of Game Design

The first step to becoming a game designer is understanding the basic concepts of game design. From learning to create challenging puzzles and understanding the importance of strategy to working on designing games, you’ll start to build the skills you’ll need for a professional career. You can expect a combination of conceptual learning and hands-on experience with these types of courses.

Learning 3D Modeling and Digital Painting for Games

Using 3D modeling software is one of the most important skills needed for a career in game design. This program will teach concepts such as UV mapping and texture techniques, which you can apply to your own projects. Digital painting is also another important part of game design. Basic courses help you learn the elements of digital painting and give you a chance to practice painting specific features, such as facial features or stone objects.

Steampunk Airship 3D by Maythee Chauypoo
Steampunk Airship 3D Prop Student Work by Maythee Chauypoo

Studying Video Game Storytelling and Scripting

Being able to create a story and use scripting for video games are essential skills to learn for a career in game development. Courses on video game storytelling help you learn how you can write compelling storylines for your own game creations. Scripting courses cover various features and other elements of video game scripts while also providing you with opportunities to develop related skills, such as planning team projects.

Understanding Systems Design for Programmers and Designers

Whether you plan on becoming a video game designer or programmer, you’ll be taking systems design courses. These courses provide you with an in-depth understanding of the systems structures of video games. You can also expect to apply what you’ve learned about combat systems and other aspects of systems design to your own projects during these courses.

Learning the Basics of Computer Science and Programming Elements

While working toward earning your degree in computer programming, you’ll be taking courses that cover the basic principles of computer science, as well as studying data structures and algorithms and developing skills for programming game engines. You’ll also be able to show your knowledge of computer science and programming elements with projects and other coursework.

Studying Mathematics for Game Programmers

Math is going to be a crucial element to developing your technical skills as a game programmer. Like it or not, you’re going to need to brush up on your algebra and geometry skills. Other types of math you can expect to take include discrete mathematics used in computer science, such as number theory and graph theory, along with courses on matrix operations, transformations, and vectors.


These are but some of the classes you can expect to take under a game a development degree. Request information on Academy of Art University’s School of Game Development curriculum. You may also get started with your application now for the school year 2020.


Concept Art Hero Image by Jin Whan Kim, The Journey