New York Film Academy ACTING & FILM SCHOOL The Most Hands-on Intensive Programs In The World

Game Design School at the New York Film Academy

New York Film Academy Game Design School
Game Design Degrees Game Design Programs
Students at the NYFA Game Design School learn "hands on" from the leading thinkers and developers in both the games industry and the arts.

Gaming – An Exploding Industry Needs Qualified Designers

The explosive growth of online gaming is a worldwide phenomenon. In the U.S. alone, about 43 percent of the population (135 million people) plays a digital game at least once each month. Industry growth places this multibillion-dollar industry as more than double what it was just a few years ago, and with new technologies it will likely continue on this trajectory.

Industry analysts find that core gamers spend an average of 18 hours per week on digital games, and that a demand for variety drives new game development. It is entertainment that consumers can choose to pursue at their leisure – often, with extraordinary enthusiasm. Most game design students themselves are active and enthusiastic gamers – an excellent foundation for a career that essentially is about play.

There are "serious games" as well. Gaming is so compelling an activity that game designers from entertainment-oriented schools are proving to be valuable in education as well.

For example, business simulation games (examples: Railroad Tycoon, Air Bucks and Theme Park World) enable students to work through the economics and critical thinking required in free enterprise conditions. Virtually every academic challenge – ranging from science to music to math to health – can be constructed in a game format. NYFA Game Design School Creative Director Chris Swain has designed several such games, including The Redistricting Game, a tool to teach political science students how the boundaries of congressional districts are drawn. Other faculty have noteworthy experience in entertainment, serious, arts and simulation games.

New York Film Academy is a first choice among game design schools

Game Design is an exciting and fast-growing field. New games are released every day, and while some spark a huge following and create great demand for the designers to create more, others quickly fade away. The New York Film Academy Game Design courses teach students what is required to create quality games that people want to play. The Academy's game design curricula balance instruction between the necessary, important technical skills and the art of the craft.

Like other visual art forms, the heart of good game design is storytelling. Therefore, in addition to the technical instruction, students at the Academy must place significant focus on storytelling to create compelling and engrossing scenarios. While the technical knowhow is tantamount to get the rules and procedures of the game in motion, it is the story and the excitement of the game environment that keep the player absorbed.

In the NYFA Game Design School program, students learn the following:

The fundamentals of play mechanics and system design: Formal training in prototype, playtesting and iteration allow students to build games for all platforms, including console, mobile, social, handheld, location-based and board games.

The playcentric design language of games: The canon of modern game design includes formal systems (rules, procedures, resources), dramatic systems (story structure, character, pacing) and dynamic systems (emergent qualities of games in motion). This knowledge allows the student to deconstruct any game and speak a common language with game industry leaders.

How to work collaboratively within a game studio: Studios of two to four individuals (supported by professional programmers) provide technical mentorship, hands-on coding and practice with Agile software development and industry-favored software tools (Jira and Confluence included). Each studio produces one working digital game each semester.

The extensive experience of NYFA game design faculty is what helps unleash this creative storytelling capacity in students. Chris Swain has designed more than award-winning interactive games for companies that include Disney, Microsoft, Sony and Warner Brothers; his work has also earned dozens of design awards.

Other faculty straddles the border between film, television, print and games, with expertise in the full range of what games can be:

Faculty: Learn from the Masters

All New York Film Academy programs balance study of the art form with practical experience. This is why faculty at the Game Design School is made up of professionals who have experience in some of the most exciting and successful game enterprises of the past 20 years. Their work spans the field from transmedia story telling to multiplayer web games, social impact projects, casual games and kid-focused creativity tools (e.g., Sesame Street projects). Their accomplishments include marketplace success as well as awards from their peers – and they are passionate about both the evolution of the industry and sharing what they know with future game designers.

Given first-hand contact with these and other leaders in the field – the school frequently brings in guest speakers – NYFA game design students receive unparalleled access to the leading thoughts, techniques and business acumen that can turn them into future leaders in the hyper-growth world of game design.

Program Information

The intensive formal training that students at the New York Film Academy receive enables them to become future games industry leaders. Included in their instruction is game design fundamentals (formal, dramatic and dynamic systems), narrative structures, interface design, prototyping, play testing, iteration, team collaboration and product launches.

It is a hands-on, intensive industry that requires the same of students in training. Game analysis and critique design (also known as play centric design) has its own language, which is used across all program coursework.

The range of programs at the Game Design School begins with a one-year Conservatory program and progresses on up through Associate, Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts degrees. Depending on which degree path a student follows, graduates from these programs will develop some or all of the following:

  • Portfolios that include real working video game credits, video game scripts across a variety of game genres, art and animation work and fully functional games ready to pitch to game publishers and developers.
  • Each semester students will create at least on working digital game that will be added to his/her online portfolio. Genres are chosen by the students.
  • Experience at working collaboratively in high-pressure creative environments.
  • Facility with programming across all platforms: PC, console, handheld, Internet, smartphone and tablet devices.
  • Mastery of the Agile development process: milestones, updates and notes- or schedule-driven developmental paths.
  • Industry knowledge, including where jobs are and in what forms relative to other functions within companies.
  • How a game idea progresses from its original inspiration through to a ready-for-market product, including how to sell it along the way.
These skills are developed through in-class learning, laboratory work and guest speakers from the industry.


The Game Design School is offered in both the New York and Los Angeles locations. The program is identical in each, but with different course schedules. Students may alternate between campuses if they so choose, absorbing the broader experience from proximity to film, cinematography, directing and acting schools in both locations. The New York and Los Angeles campuses each offer world class facilities, industry and people – perhaps the most enriching environments possible for any aspiring game designer as well as anyone in the creative and performing arts.

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* All MFA, BFA, BA, MA, and AFA degree programs are offered only at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles campus.

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