The Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in Computer Game Design requires 36 credit hours comprised of core courses drawn from interactive design, creative writing for games, the business of games, game design and production, and electives from CVPA or other Mason graduate programs. This degree will prepare students for employment in the computer game design and development fields which include the commercial, entertainment, serious games, and federal sectors. This degree’s curriculum is designed to reflect the games industry’s demand for an academically rigorous technical program coupled with an understanding of the artistic and creative elements of the evolving medium.
Students who will be attracted to the M.A. in Computer Game Design are those who have both science and artistic strengths, as this unique degree program depends the student’s participation in both knowledge areas. Prior to the emergence of the game design field, these students frequently opted to pursue only computer science, digital arts, or graphic design graduate degrees limiting their employability in the game design industry. Computer Game Design’s interdisciplinary nature allows students to value several areas of research and discovery; students benefit both academically and professionally from several disciplines. They are prepared to respond to the unprecedented growth of computer game design activities and practices around the globe.
The goals of the Computer Game Design Program reflect the Mission of George Mason University. The Program’s intention is to prepare students for employment and further study in the computer game design and development fields, with a curriculum designed to reflect the gaming industry’s demand for an academically rigorous, technical program coupled with an understanding of the artistic and creative elements of the evolving field of study. The key goal for the Computer Game Design Program is to educate the next generation of leaders in the multiple dimensions of game design; our leaders will shape local, national, and global communities, while demonstrating numerous opportunities of game design as a positive authority for tolerance, justice, and intellectual growth.
The M.A. in Computer Game Design encourages innovative and entrepreneurial teaching and learning, preparing students for professional careers in the many fields that employ game design methods. Students work with their faculty to investigate how game design intersects with education, entertainment, sciences, research, and business systems. With the guidance of the faculty member, the internship experience allows a student to participate in applied research, to gain meaningful knowledge, and to learn methods of communicating both research and knowledge to a variety of audiences.
The program encourages students to take elective courses from disciplines across Mason’s campuses. The courses on the list of suggest electives reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the program, and they reflect the diverse skills needed to be innovative in the professional fields of game design. After completing the coursework, the students determine if a project or a thesis is more pertinent to their future ambitions and research interests. The students’ committee will include at least one member (two suggested) from a discipline outside of the Computer Game Design Program, potentially a faculty member from one of Mason’s education, business, sciences, or management programs.
The Computer Game Design Program will be central to the cultural development, raise Mason’s profile in the discipline, and enhance the region’s economic vitality. The M.A. in Computer Game Design will provide previously untapped and unexplored areas of research funding support, both through direct student thesis research projects with industry, and traditional faculty PI research channels.
The curriculum for the M.A. degree in Game Design comprises 36 credits distributed among the following categories of courses: Core Courses (22 credits), Elective Courses (9 credits), the Comprehensive Experience (5 credits). The curriculum proposed has been modeled after the International Game Developers Association’s (IGDA) most recent ‘Curriculum Framework’ for the Study of Games and Game Development. Students may take electives in subject area categories that include critical game studies and research, games and society, game design and production, and game business and entrepreneurship. These subject areas reflect the current and future roles that computer games occupy in the scientific, entertainment, cultural, and economic sectors in society.
(Appendix B presents description of the new GAME courses developed for the proposed program. Appendix C provides a sample schedule for a full-time student and a sample schedule for a part-time student.)
Curriculum Core: 22 credits
- GAME 600 Research Methodologies in Game Design (3)
- GAME 605 Computer Game Design Graduate Seminar, (1)(4cr. required, RD)
- GAME 626 Game Business, Entrepreneurship, and Practice (3)
- GAME 610 Game Production, (3) (6 required, RD)
- GAME 617 Teaching Practicum (3)
- GAME 710 Graduate Internship (3)
Electives: 9 credits
- GAME 628 Advanced Game Art (3)
- GAME 630 Advanced Game Animation (3)
- GAME 635 Issues in Interactive Entertainment (3)
- GAME 638 Game Studio Management (3)
- GAME 650 Advanced Music and Sound for Games (3)
- GAME 658 Interactive Game Systems Design (3)
- ENGH 685 Selected Topics, Movements, or Genres of Literature in English (3)
- ENGH 590 Topics in Folk Narrative (3)
- SOCI 614 Sociology of Culture (3)
- PSYC 619 Applied Behavior Analysis (3)
- GAME 599 Special Topics in GAME (1-6) (minimum 3 credits)
Comprehensive Experience: 5 credits
- GAME 796 Directed Reading (1-3) (Students must complete 1 directed reading, 1 credit)
- GAME 797 Proposal Writing (1)
- GAME 798 Project/Applied Research – Game + Written Document (3) or
- GAME 799 Thesis (3)
Total degree credits: 36
Admission is competitive. An offer of admission is valid only for the semester for which the student applies. Application for graduate admission is made to the Office of Graduate Admissions. The application deadline for Fall 2014 admission is June 1, 2014; the application deadline for the 2015 Spring Semester is November 1, 2014. Mason encourages early applications from prospective students who wish to be considered for academic scholarships, grants, or graduate teaching assistantships.
Admission is contingent on satisfactory completion of in-progress course work, and graduation with a Bachelor degree, with a 3.0 GPA, or higher, from an accredited undergraduate institute of higher education. The following items are required with applications for admission in the M.A. in Computer Game Design Degree Program :
- Completed online application for graduate study;
- Application fee;
- Two official transcripts from all undergraduate institutions attended;
- Three letters of recommendation: letters from instructors, professional supervisors, who can evaluate the applicant’s academic potential;
- Goals statement: 1,000 words, double spaced, 12 font;
- Writing sample: essay, review, project written within the last 3 years for academic course, college publication or competition, or for professional or community activity;
- Evidence of computer programming knowledge, at a minimum of 3 credits (undergraduate or graduate) of Pearl or Python, and 3 credits of Java or C# is required; (Note: Course work must be evident on a college transcript)
- Portfolio: should be a website URL displaying 20 examples of the applicants’ most accomplished work: the applicant’s portfolio is a major selection criterion for graduate admission and should represent the applicant’s most accomplished work. The portfolio URL should be sent to CVPA Graduate Admissions
- International students must have met University criteria for the TOEFL (current University standard: 230 for computer-based, 88 for internet based tests), or other English proficiency examination;
Mailing address for materials:
CVPA Graduate Admissions
George Mason University
4400 University Drive, MS 1H4
Fairfax, VA 22030
The applied research project or the thesis are the options for the capstone experience of graduate study in the Computer Game Design Program. The project or thesis will be guided by a Committee consisting of at least three members of the faculty. The student’s major professor in Game will chair the committee. All committee members will be (i) appointed by the associate dean of graduate programs, of the College of Visual and Performing Arts and (ii) have graduate faculty status, as approved by the university provost.