Students hands work on a game board over a map of Washington, DC

6 Reasons Why a Game Design Certificate Matters

There are many aspiring game designers seeking a specialized master’s degree as part of their career journey, but what about professionals who only recently have considered changing course? For these people, earning a game design certificate is a perfect first step. Here are six reasons why:

  1. Games Matter.

    Never in history have games been more accepted, popular and readily available—and never has the opportunity to impact our world through games been so great.

    At least 155 million Americans play video games. With more than $60 billion in annual revenue, the game industry is gigantic and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 50 percent of Americans play video games on a computer, TV, game console, or portable device like a cellphone. Employment in careers related to game design are also projected to increase by 30 percent in 2018.

  2. Drive Change Through Play

    The Game Design program at American University (AU) is the center point of converging affinity for games, leadership and social action. It melds the strengths of the School of Communication and College of Arts and Sciences, as students from various passions and backgrounds—ranging from politics and science to art, history and international studies—add game design skills to their existing knowledge base.

    The result?

    Play that address challenges and leads to solutions.

    Many intriguing games have emerged from the program, including:

    Screen grab from Factitious game
    Real or fake, can you tell the difference between fake news and reliable news? Factitious is a game created by an AU JoLT fellow Maggie Farley and Bob Hone, an an AU game professor. The game was funded by a grant given by the Knight Foundation. Read more about the game or play it.

    Cardio Copter
    A screenshot of the spin cycle-based physical therapy game.
    Recent master’s student in Game Design Alex Cha created “Cardio Copter,” an interactive game that combined his interests in psychology and biology and games. It’s a spin-cycle-based gaming therapy in which Parkinson’s disease patients use their pedaling to guide a helicopter through a virtual city! Learn more about the game.

    Commuter Challenge

    Father hugging child

    Engaging games can create empathy, and students interested in the intersection of games and journalism collaborated on a project with local radio station, NPR’s WAMU 88.5. The outcome of research, interviews and several meetings was Commuter Challenge, an interactive narrative designed to have players make choices that affected the main character’s commute. Check out more about the making of the game.

  3. Flexibility to Design and Thrive

    A Game Design Certificate from AU can be earned in one year. The program, designed to help working professions develop design and development skills, is a natural way to move toward a new career path without fulling committing to a master’s degree in game design.

    Required courses for the certificate program include “Games and Society,” “Game Research Methods,” “Game Development” and “Games and Rhetoric.” Students can complement the certificate with three credit hours of elective courses.

  4. Learn From Uniquely Experienced Instructors

    Game Design students benefit from faculty with years of experience in the field. Faculty members’ backgrounds include the nonprofit, government and business sectors, authors, researchers and entrepreneurs.

  5. Explore Hands-on Training

    AU’s Game Lab Studio is a hub where students and faculty work together on ground-breaking apps and games—sometimes for well-known organizations that partner with the program. In the lab, certificate seekers can build a professional portfolio and develop expertise in all stages of development, from art to coding.

  6. Embrace Opportunities in Washington, D.C.

    One of the most important advantages of living, learning and working in Washington, D.C. is the vast potential to develop key relationships that can prove beneficial for years to come. Twenty-three game companies are based in D.C., as are many foundations, non-profits, museums and government agencies.

Learn More About the Game Design Certificate

If you’d like to learn more about pursuing a game design certificate from American University, visit today, or send us an email:

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