B.S. in Game Design: FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get in?

Apply to Indiana University for Direct Admission to the Media School. As soon as you are accepted, start asking Media School advisers how to proceed. Generally speaking, in your first semester you should take MSCH-C210 Introduction to Games and any introductory course in programming.

When should I start taking game classes?

The program takes three full years to complete. The first courses are MSCH-C210 Introduction to Games and either ILS-Z399 Introduction to Game Programming or MSCH-C220 Game Technology.

If you take those in the fall of Year X, you will graduate in spring of Year X+3. Example: If you start taking our game classes in fall 2018, you will graduate in Spring 2021. If you look at this closely, you’ll see that if you take those introductory courses – C210 and C220/Z399 – in fall of sophomore year or earlier, you can still graduate on time. So perhaps the ideal thing to do is spend freshman year working on university, college and Media School requirements, then start doing the Game Design degree in fall of sophomore year.

Can I take the more advanced classes at the same time as the introductory classes?

No. The core part of the program is designed to take you from skill to skill in a logical way. Because of this, you have to do each semester of classes before you move on to the next semester. The order of classes in the core looks like this:

  1. C210 and C220
  2. G300, G310, G320
  3. G400, G410
  4. G450, G460, G470

Wait, I don’t want to do programming! Do I have to?

Yes. Relax. Everyone who works in games – the writer and artist too – needs to know a little programming. Our intro programming courses are designed to take people who really don’t like programming and give them all they need to know.

Wait, so this is just scripting and not real programming?

No. If you really love programming, go ahead and take the hardest coding courses they have in the School of Informatics and Computing Science. These also satisfy the “intro programming” requirement for the program. Game design requires a mix of people, with different skills, who all understand how the others think. So even the artists have to learn programming. And the programmers have to learn.

Art and sound? I stink at drawing, why do I have to learn art?

Our introductory art and sound classes are just like our introductory technology classes: They are designed to give everyone what they need to understand this part of game design. Even people who can’t draw or make music are able to create simple art and sound assets.

Why does everyone have to learn a little of everything?

The curriculum helps students become “T-shaped people.” A T-shaped person knows a little about everything – art, sound, programming, design, business (the top of the T) – but they know a lot about one of those things (the stem of the T). People like this do best over the long run in their industry careers. Our introductory classes give all students the top of the T. Our electives then let each student go deep in one area of their choice.

When I get to campus, whom should I talk to first?

See an adviser. The Media School advisers should always be your first stop when you have questions about the degree. You can talk to them at any time, although they get very busy around registration. While the web is a great source of general information, only the advisers can give you specific information. You should talk to advisers early and often. Find them here.

Where are the “official rules” for the Game Design degree?

The official requirements for the degree are in the current academic bulletin for IU Bloomington.

  • Go to http://bulletins.iu.edu/iub/.
  • Under “Arts and Sciences,” click on the current year.
  • Along the top, click “Schools, Departments, and Programs.”
  • Under M, click “Media School, The.”
  • Scroll down to “BS in game Design” and click that link.

Can I do both Computer Science and Game Design?

Yes, you can get a dual degree: A bachelor of science degree in computer science through the School of Informatics and Computing Science and a bachelor of science Game Design degree in The Media School. In order to do this, you have to meet all the degree requirements of both schools. See your advisers in the two schools to plan your course load.

Can I do Art and Game Design?

Yes, you can do this as a dual major, which is easier than a dual degree. Because both the School of Fine Arts and The Media School are in the College of Arts and Sciences, they share many of the same requirements. See an adviser.

Is there a minor in Game Design?

No, but we are working on it (possibly ready by fall 2017).

What electives should I take?

There is a list of “official” electives, but you should think creatively about making yourself into that T-shaped person. You should feel free to take almost any class at IUB that enhances your special skills in making games. As you consider classes, though, always talk to professors and advisers. It is easy to get classes accepted as electives, but only if you tell the advisers about it. If you don’t talk to the faculty and the advisers, you will be stuck with the “official” list, and that may not be right for you. Our goal is to let you design a big part of your specialization as a game student; take advantage of that. See the current official list of game design electives.

What are the best general education classes for a game design student?

Please see the list at the end of this FAQ. Courses in bold are strongly recommended.

What are the best Media School requirements for a game design student?

Anything involving games and game design. After that, sports, then anything involving writing.

Can I get a job in the game industry?

Yes. Our program is designed to give each student the best possible chance at working in the game industry, if that is his or her dream.

What are game industry jobs like?

Game industry jobs are about teams working at a high level of professionalism and maturity. Each member of the team is expected to be very good at his or her skills — art, coding, design, sound, business. At the same time, they are expected to contribute to the team, to show leadership and emotional stability. The work is very demanding but very rewarding, too. The industry is growing and will continue to grow as technology keeps inventing new uses for digital media.

What if I don’t get a job in the game industry?

The skills you learn in this program carry over to many other types of work. You are learning how to create interactive media content in a deadline-driven team context. These skills will be in high demand in many industries as virtual reality technology expands across the economy. Some examples would be advertising, public relations, sports media, government media, education, health services, public information and politics.

What if something happens and I can’t complete the degree?

If you decide later on to go in a different direction, you won’t lose anything. You will have gotten a good foundation in digital media production, and this will allow you to pivot to other majors where digital content creation is useful, such as journalism, media, art, informatics or education.

I want to take game classes but not do the whole program. Is that OK?

Yes. You should look into the bachelor of arts in media degree, which should allow you to take a number of game classes while working toward a less structured degree.

What makes this program different?

Systems design. Many programs focus mostly on game art and computer graphics, others focus mostly on game programming. We focus on design, and among the schools that focus on design, most see design as a form of artistic expression. That’s an entirely valid way of looking at things, but we go in a completely different direction: Systems design. Systems design is more of a “crunchy” affair, involving loops, inputs, outputs, balancing and mind-bending philosophical concepts like emergence, chaos and uniqueness.

In addition, students will leave the program with a finished game to their credit, from initial concept through design and implementation and ending with marketing and post-release support.

Why do you focus on systems design?

On the one hand, systems thinking is a tremendous foundation for leadership in today’s world. The 21st century is a century of systems: Global warming, international trade, public health systems, migration. Our game design students will come to understand not only games in a deeper way but, through the systems perspective, the whole world. On the other hand, our industry advisers tell us that it is much easier to get a job as a systems designer than as a catch-all game designer. Systems design is a “crunchy” skill that the industry needs.

Where can I go for more information?

Contact the school’s advisers at mschadv@indiana.edu.

General Education Recommendations for Game Design

We recommend the courses in the following lists. Courses in bold are highly recommended

  • Composition: ENG-W 131 Elementary Composition
  • Mathematical Modeling:
    • MATH-M 106 The Mathematics of Decision and Beauty (3 cr.)
    • MATH-M 118 Finite Mathematics (3 cr.)
    • MATH-V 118 Finite Mathematics with Applications: Finite Mathematics for the Social and Biological Sciences (3 cr.)
  • Intensive Writing:
    • ENG-L 204   Introduction to Fiction
    • ENG-W 350   Advanced Expository Writing
    • HIST-J 300   Seminar in History
    • MSCH-J 410   Media as Social Institutions
  • Language Study
    • East Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean)
    • French
    • Indian (Hindi, Urdu)
    • Portuguese
  • Arts and Humanities
    • AMID-D 191 Design Studies: Form and Function
    • ARTH-A 206 Classical Art and Archaeology
    • ARTH-A 220 American Arts/American Identities, 1776–1945
    • ARTH-A 226 Survey of Medieval Art
    • ARTH-A 231 The Age of Giants: Art in the Time of Leonardo and Michelangelo
    • ARTH-A 234 Renaissance Florence
    • ARTH-A 280 The Art of Comics
    • ARTH-H 100 Introduction to Art History and Visual Culture for Non-Majors
    • CLAS-C 101 Ancient Greek Culture
    • CLAS-C 102 Roman Culture
    • CLAS-C 205 Classical Mythology
    • CMLT-C 216 Science Fiction, Fantasy, and the Western Tradition
    • CMLT-C 217 Detective, Mystery, and Horror Literature
    • CMLT-C 219 Romance and the Western Tradition
    • EALC-E 271 Modern and Contemporary Japanese Culture
    • ENG-L 203 Introduction to Drama
    • ENG-L 204 Introduction to Fiction
    • ENG-L 210 Studies in Popular Literature and Mass Media
    • ENG-L 213 Literary Masterpieces I
    • ENG-L 214 Literary Masterpieces II
    • ENG-L 220 Introduction to Shakespeare
    • ENG-L 230 Introduction to Science Fiction
    • FINA-D 210 Digital Art: Survey and Practice
    • FINA-F 100 Fundamental Studio—Drawing
    • FINA-F 101 Fundamental Studio—3D
    • FINA-F 102 Fundamental Studio—2D
    • FINA-N 110 Introduction to Studio Art for Nonmajors
    • FINA-N 130 Digital Imagery for Nonmajors
    • FINA-N 198 Introduction to Photography for Nonmajors
    • FINA-S 200     Drawing I
    • FINA-S 271     Intro to Figurative Sculpture
    • FOLK-F 131 Folklore in the United States
    • FOLK-F 141 Urban Legend
    • MUS-T 109 Rudiments of Music
    • MUS-T 151 Music Theory and Literature I
    • MUS-Z 101 Music for the Listener
    • MUS-Z 120 Music in Multimedia
    • PHIL-P 100 Introduction to Philosophy
    • PHIL-P 105 Thinking and Reasoning
    • PHIL-P 140 Introduction to Ethics
    • PHIL-P 145 Liberty and Justice: A Philosophical Introduction
    • PHIL-P 150 Elementary Logic
    • PHIL-P 242 Applied Ethics
    • POLS-Y 105 Introduction to Political Theory
    • REL-R 133 Introduction to Religion
    • REL-R 152 Jews, Christians, Muslims
    • REL-R 153 Religions of Asia
    • REL-R 160 Introduction to Religion in America
    • REL-R 170 Religion, Ethics, and Public Life
    • THTR-T 100 Introduction to Theatre
    • THTR-T 108 Great Performances in Film
  • Social and Historical Studies
    • ECON-E 201 Introduction to Microeconomics
    • FOLK-F 210 Myth, Legend, and Popular Science
    • FOLK-F 253 Folklore and the Social Sciences
    • FOLK-F 290 Myth, Ritual, Symbol
    • HIST-A 230 American Pleasure: Leisure and Enjoyment in Modern US History
    • HIST-B 200 Issues in Western European History
    • HIST-B 204 Medieval Heroes
    • HIST-B 208 Pagans and Christians in the Middle Ages
    • HIST-B 226 The Mafia and Other Italian Mysteries
    • HIST-B 270 Inside Nazi Germany
    • HIST-C 210 The Making of the Modern Middle East
    • HIST-H 101 The World in the Twentieth Century I
    • HIST-H 102 The World in the Twentieth Century II
    • HIST-H 103 Europe: Renaissance to Napoleon
    • HIST-H 104 Europe: Napoleon to the Present
    • HIST-H 105 American History I
    • HIST-H 106 American History II
    • HIST-H 205 Ancient Civilization
    • HIST-H 206 Medieval Civilization
    • HIST-H 207 Modern East Asian Civilization
    • HIST-H 213 The Black Death
    • HIST-H 220 American Military History
    • HIST-W 125 Cities and History
    • HIST-W 203 World War I: Global War
    • HPSC-X 210 Technology and Culture
    • INFO-I 222 The Information Society
    • INTL-I 210 Diplomacy, Security, Governance
    • MSCH-C 213 Introduction to Media and Society
    • POLS-Y 109 Introduction to International Relations
    • POLS-Y 202 Politics and Citizenship in the Information Age
    • POLS-Y 204 Institutional Analysis and Governance
    • POLS-Y 211 Introduction to Law
    • SPH-F 255 Human Sexuality
    • SPH-F 258 Marriage and Family Interaction
    • SPH-H 174 Prevention of Violence in American Society
    • SPH-H 220 Death and Dying
    • SPH-H 235 Obesity and Health
    • SPH-H 263 Personal Health
    • SPH-R 142 Living Well
    • SPH-R 200 Foundations of Leisure and Public Health
  • Natural and Mathematical Sciences
    • ANTH-A 107 Becoming Human: Evolving Genes, Bodies, Behavior, Ideas
    • BIOL-L 111 Foundations of Biology: Evolution and Diversity
    • COGS-Q 101 Introduction to Cognitive Science
    • CSCI-C 211 Introduction to Computer Science
    • CSCI-C 212 Introduction to Software Systems
    • GEOG-G 237 Mapping Our World*
    • MATH-M 106 The Mathematics of Decision and Beauty
    • PHYS-P 120 Energy and Technology*
    • PHYS-P 150 How Things Work*
    • PSY-P 101 Introductory Psychology I*
    • PSY-P 155 Introduction to Psychological and Brain Sciences*
    • PSY-P 211 Methods of Experimental Psychology*
    • SOC-S 110 Charts, Graphs, and Tables
    • STAT-S 100 Statistical Literacy
  • Critical Approaches: Intensive Freshman Seminar (any)
  • Public Oral Communication: COLL-P 155 Public Oral Communication
  • Culture Studies: Focus on courses in History, English, Philosophy, and Art
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