pre-college game design student working on multiple computer screens

Build Better Worlds

Start creating an impressive portfolio of collaborative work as soon as you start the program.

Division of Communication & Creative Media 
On-Campus Employment Opportunities
Study Abroad
Portfolio Requirements 
Game Studio Experience 
Study Abroad 

Level up your technical abilities, right away.

The Game Design major puts you at the game-making controls in your first semester. Gameplay systems, narratives, programing, level design, world-building: become an expert in the areas you’re most passionate about. And prepare for your career while studying at the vibrant heart of an expansive gaming culture.

You’ll develop extensive foundational game design skills during your first two years. During your third and fourth years, you will begin to focus on areas that interest you as a game designer and build an impressive portfolio of collaborative work as you prepare to enter the game industry.

The Game Studio Experience at Champlain College is a unique feature that gives you hands-on experience in your field, working with peers from our other game majors to complete game projects from start to finish. This parallel to real-world professional studio work is what makes Champlain game programmers stand out from the crowd; you’ll have firsthand experience working with other departments to bring a project to completion.

What Is Game Design?

Video game design is the process of designing the gameplay, storyline, game progression, environment, and characters while determining how all of these parts fit together seamlessly into a cohesive game experience. Game designers create the vision of a game, and work with other game specialists, such as artists and programmers, to bring that vision to life. Many game designers have a focus area such as level design or narrative design, and work with other game designers to bring their visions together to create a successful game. 

  • Systems Design – Establish the foundational logic and mechanical plan for how a game operates and build the mechanics that bring the game world into existence.
  • Technical Design – Build, script and prototype game ideas and mechanics by having a solid foundation in coding. Most technical designers will minor in Game Programming.
  • Level Design – Create the step-by-step experience and determine parameters of play in each area in the game world. Create levels and maps that guide the player’s experience.
  • Narrative Design – Define how the overall story is experienced by the player, through traditional narrative, dialogue, characters, and environment.
  • Content Design – Build quests, experiences and interactions that leverage the game’s desired game play. You are building the game’s world!
  • Generalist – Use your Game Design electives to get a solid mix of level design, narrative design, system design, programming and art.
  • Indie Developer – Do you want to work at a small studio? Or maybe create your own indie studio? Use your game design electives on a mix of programming, art and business classes.

Why Study Game Design at Champlain?

With the Game Design major at college, you’ll get involved in Game Design classes starting in your first semester so you can begin your Game Design education starting on day one. Students will spend most of their time in class and at home actually working on projects and doing the work. Students won’t have to sit through hours of lectures before starting the work; instead they learn by completing projects and working on real games and software. 

Unlike other universities, the majority of your classes across all four years here are focused on game design and the different focuses students can go after. This way, you spend less time learning inessential classes, and more time focused on learning to design the next blockbuster game. The Game Studio and prominence of other gaming programs and eSports club and varsity teams means you’ll learn in a gaming-oriented community, preparing you for your career.

Teacher and students discussing game design and strategy with block props on a table.

Different by Design

Multiplayer Experience

Champlain College is a major gaming community: there are multiple gaming degree programs, Champlain is regularly ranked among the top nationally for game design, and there’s a healthy eSports community.

Upside-Down Curriculum

The curriculum gets students involved in Game Design classes starting in their first semester. The majority of students’ classes are focused on game design and the different focuses students can go after.

At the Controls

Students will spend most of their time actually working on projects. No hours of lectures before beginning; learn by working on real games and software.

The Game Studio Experience

The Game Studio Experience ensures that students know how to work well in teams just like the ones in professional studios. This cooperative experience sets Champlain graduates above others when competing for jobs. Years 2-4 feature classes with all other game students in the Game Studio Experience.


Classes taught by game industry experts who have been or remain highly active professionals in the industry.


Champlain College was ranked a top school for game design The Princeton Review’s in the 2024 rankings.

The Most

Champlain was named as “Most Innovative School” by U.S. News & World Report in its “America’s Best Colleges” 2024 ranking of universities in the North.

What Sets Us Apart

a team of game studio students presenting their game project to a full audience in an auditorium champlain college game studio students posing for a photo with the GDC sign at the game developers conference

The Game Studio Experience

The unique Game Studio Experience at Champlain College gives you start-to-finish game-building experience in a professional environment. You’ll collaborate with your peers in each of our game majors to create playable games in a studio that parallels the processes of the industry.

Annual Game Studio Senior Show

You will have the opportunity to present the game you create with your Game Studio team—as well as your own demo reel—to recruiters from all over the United States and Canada. Recruiters often come to the Senior Show to scout new talent, from companies like: Insomniac, Activision, Ubisoft and more!

Game Developers Conference

Champlain College sends a cohort to the world’s largest game developers conference each year in San Francisco for professional development and networking. The Career Coach facilitates exclusive networking meetings for Champlain students with top recruiters from some of the largest game developers.

Sample Courses in the Game Design Major

Game Design requires a broad range of knowledge from psychology to game engine scripting. You will find this depth throughout the curriculum and you’ll have plenty of options to specialize in Game System Design, Level/Content Design, or Narrative Design.

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Based on your interest in the Game Design major, we thought you also might like to check out these other academic programs and opportunities.

Game Design Admissions Requirements

The Game Design major requires you to submit a portfolio of your work. What are we looking for? Simply, we want to see you design something. We are looking for creativity, innovation, and we want you to demonstrate your ability to deconstruct a game and then re-envision it into something new and exciting. There are a number of important points to consider.

  • Follow all specifications. Design always comes with constraints. Your ability to be creative within those constraints will be highly valued.
  • Be original. Innovation will win you points over mimicking the latest hot, blockbuster game title or rehashing the old tried and true.
  • Communicate clearly and be technically accurate. That means spelling and grammar count! Show us you also value this characteristic.
  • Show us who you are and where your creative energies lie through your design. Show us your passion and your interests.

You may wish to enhance your application with additional materials. These are not required, but are recommended. Game designers need a broad range of skills from programming to visual design. Show us some of your other skills as they apply to communicating your idea. Follow the link below for more information on Game Design portfolio requirements.

Suggested Preparation:

Game designers need diversity in their education and experiences. Here is a list of some suggested areas of study and exploration:

  • Math through Applied Calculus
  • Science, especially Physics
  • Programming (any languages or scripting environments)
  • Graphic Design
  • Drawing and Painting
  • Art History, History, Sociology, Psychology, and Literature
  • Creative Writing
  • Digital Art Software such as Adobe Creative Suite, or any 3D package
  • Unreal Development Kit (PC)
  • Gamemaker (PC)
  • Game Salad (Mac)
  • Mod any game and share with a modding community
  • Make traditional card or board games
  • Be a dungeon master for D&D
  • Create game characters and develop their back story

Sign Up To Get Stickers + Helpful Info

Laptop on a bed, the laptop is decorated with exciting stickers from a champlain college graduate

Ready to be inspired? Fill out the form and sign up to receive helpful information about Champlain College—plus, we’ll send you a full sheet of high quality stickers designed by one of our Graphic Design & Visual Communication graduates.

Career Success

Our Game Design majors find employment in AAA companies as well as indie studios. Over the past six years, nearly 3/4 of these graduates were employed within six months of graduation.

a game design student carrying around a packet of notes from potential employers at a professional game convention

By the time you graduate, you will…

  • Recognize the underlying principles guiding the relevant visual, audio, interactive, and narrative aesthetics of a particular genre of work, design movement, or designer
  • Develop and implement successful strategies for organization of the design and delivery of the product using industry standards
  • Develop a professional degree of technical proficiency using computer hardware and software appropriate to the game development industry
  • Develop and present a unique and professional portfolio that showcases your abilities.

You’ll Find a Career In…

  • Systems Design
  • Level Design
  • Technical Design
  • Narrative Design
  • Content Design
  • game art students working on computers
    Pre-College Summer Program: Champlain Game Academy

    The Champlain Game Academy offers an intensive residential pre-college program for high school students entering grades 10-12 and recent high school graduates. Like the Game Studio, our program emphasizes teamwork and creative collaboration across all the game development disciplines. In order to understand how a professional game development team works, students will be introduced to all aspects of game development.

    Learn More on the Pre-College Summer Program Website

More Inside Game Design