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New York Film Academy Game Design

Game Design School at the New York Film Academy

Online Workshops at NYFA!

Game Design School in New York & Los Angeles

All MFA, BFA, AFA, and 1-Year programs give you hands-on experience:
  • Leading your own student game studio with classmates each semester
  • Building winning portfolio pieces – games, artwork, stories, other
  • Engaging with game industry leaders who are your faculty, mentors, and guest speakers

NYFA Student Game Design Highlight Reel

A reel of student work from New York Film Academy's Game Design Department in both LA and NYC.

Game design and development is a dynamic and exciting field. Its popularity has exploded over the course of the past decade, becoming increasingly competitive and lucrative. In such a crowded field, education has become an important way to stand out. The New York Film Academy strives to be considered amongst the best video game design schools in the world – offering a curriculum that will stimulate you academically and prepare you professionally. Join other passionate, creative students at the New York Film Academy’s Game Design School and make your dream of becoming a leader within game design a reality.

Learn From the Masters

Game Design Curriculum


The heart of the New York Film Academy’s Game Design School is our Game Studio course. Unlike other top game design schools, this unique course challenges students to lead their own Game Studio with two other classmates. Throughout the course of a semester, students receive coding support and mentorship from professional game design programmers, developers, and instructors. The game design school program’s professional focus and unique approach of pairing students with professionals allows students to create their own digital game by the end of the semester. Students pursuing a game design degree will take the class multiple times throughout their tutelage at NYFA’s Game Design School – giving them the chance to make multiple games, work with a variety of different professionals and students, and build their portfolio to help them find a game design career after college.

This teaching approach—of teaming students with professional game programmers and developers who code with students on their projects—is unique to NYFA and one of our most popular features.

Mastering Playcentric Design

All students in the New York Film Academy’s Game Design School are immersed in the methodology of Playcentric Design. It is infused throughout the game design curriculum. The student will:

  • Understand Fundamental Theory – See how to deconstruct any game experience into Formal, Dramatic, and Dynamic systems and learn how the three interrelate.
  • Learn Core Development Process – Acquire the skills of game prototyping, playtesting, iteration, presentation, and collaboration. These are timeless skills that can be applied to the full range of existing game types—mobile, browser-based, console, free-to-play, social, location-aware, multiplayer, etc.—and also to new game types in the future.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice – All students will prototype multiple games hands-on regardless of technical skills. Class assignments are designed to provide great additions to a student’s portfolio. In addition everyone gets lots of experience critiquing and analyzing games via playtesting with fellow students.

Story and Narrative in Game Design & Development

Games are the literature of the 21st Century. Students learn to compel audiences via stories in their games. Telling a story with games involves a blend of good system design—e.g. the story emerges from gameplay—and classic cinematic techniques. Students learn established interactive story structure models—such as Emergent versus Embedded Narrative—and gain the tools to expand upon them. Students deconstruct story in seminal narrative games—e.g. Bioshock, Mass Effect, Deus Ex, Final Fantasy VII, Red Dead Redemption, Portal, Uncharted 2, Skyrim, etc.

Learning Industry Standard Tools

As part of the Game Design School’s focus on professional preparation, students will be expected to become familiar with the use of a variety of industry standard tools. Throughout their time pursuing a game design degree all students will get extensive hands-on practice with state of the art digital tools.

Art and Animation Tools:
You will be exposed to art direction and 3D animation via coursework. Tools include Adobe Creative Suite and Maya 3D. You gain hands-on expertise and—equally importantly—you gain an understanding of how to collaborate with and lead artists, animators, and developers in the gamingindustry.

Programming Tools:
Unlike many other top game designs schools you do not need to be a programmer to attend NYFA's game design school. Whatever technical skills you have—zero to expert—will be expanded upon and honed during your time as a student. The exact languages you use in your studio classes will be decided by you and your instructor each semester depending on what’s best for your project. Right now Unity is one of the most popular. You will get individualized help and coding support from your studio class instructors—all of whom are A-list professional game programmers and developers.

Agile Tools:
You will conduct Agile Development using industry-standard collaboration tools like JIRA, BitBucket, and Confluence. These skills alone will differentiate you in interviews with game studios and amongst other developers.

Agile Development in Game Design

Your studio classes run exactly like professional game studios. The leading professional game studios follow the Agile software development methodology. Here are some principles of Agile development:

- Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
- Working software is the primary measure of progress.
- The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
- The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
- At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly. (Source: Principles behind the Agile Manifesto)

Understanding the Business of Games

Digital distribution technologies—such as Steam, the App store, and the Internet in general—have ushered in an era where small teams of designers and developers can compete on a level playing field with giant game publishers. For this reason it is valuable for students to have an understanding of the business of games. During their time at the Game Design School students gain exposure to principles of publishing and marketing, as well as how to break into the game industry as an individual.

Building a Winning Game Design Portfolio

Graduating students of the game design school in New York will leave NYFA with a portfolio of Game Studio games as well as smaller prototypes, game deconstructions, business analyses, pitches, and stories. These portfolio pieces are crafted to provide the NYFA graduate the best foundation for breaking into the game design and development industry and enjoying a career as a game professional. NYFA will teach you best practices for posting your portfolio online and getting attention with it in industry.

Game Design & Development Courses

Students in the Game Design & Development School can expect to take the following courses depending on the game design degree you enroll in. To see the full list of game design courses specific to your program, please click here.

2D Game Design 3D Game Design Game Design Studio I, II, III, IV
Playcentric Design Systems Literacy Narrative Design Workshop
Intro to 3D Art Level Design Art Direction for Game Developers
Mobile Game Design Advanced Level Design Game Coding with Unity and C#, 1
Sound Design for Games History of Video Games Game Coding with Unity and C#, 2
Publishing Video Games Multiplayer Game Design Business of Video Games

New sessions start each semester. A list of program start dates can be viewed here.


Offered exclusively at the Academy’s Los Angeles campus, students may obtain a game design degree through one of the following options.


If a student wishes to enroll in a non-degree game design program, it is advised he or she considers the Academy’s one-year conservatory program or 4-Week Online Game Design.

Game Design Faculty

One of the hallmarks of the New York Film Academy’s Game Design & Development School is its distinguished and experienced faculty. Each member of the faculty has extensive professional experience in the game design industry. Here are links to the LA Faculty and NY Faculty.

Game design school faculty members work one-on-one with students and the Game Studio faculty provides hands-on coding support for student projects. Each faculty member is dedicated to equipping students with hands-on experience alongside the tools and know-how to succeed in the game industry. The Academy’s game design faculty includes:
NYFA game design school chair Chris Swain Chris Swain (Chair): An industry leader for over twenty years, Swain co-founded the Electronic Arts Game Innovation Lab at USC. He has led over twenty award-winning games and products for companies that include Microsoft, Disney, Sony, Acclaim, BBC, Activision, and many more. He is an in-demand speaker and writer on the game industry and innovation.

NYFA game design school faculty member John Zuur Platten John Zuur Platten: John is a creative director at Google's Niantic Labs which makes Pokemon Go and Ingress. He is co-author of the acclaimed book "The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design." He has extensive experience in the game industry and film industry. John was a producer on the Sega CDs Ground Zero Texas and Double Switch. As a result of his relationship with Sega, John designed, produced and wrote the highly successful Sega CD Tomcat Alley. John's work as designer, writer and producer on Johnny Mnemonic for Sony Imagesoft lead to an overall production agreement with Propaganda Code, during which he developed several titles for Philips Media. His many other game projects include The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, (Xbox, PC), I am Alive (Xbox, PS3, PC), Scooby-Doo 2005, Constantine, Red Ninja and Taxi Driver.

Caitlin Burns NYFA Game Design School faculty Caitlin Burns: Having spent a decade working with narrative intellectual franchises, independent property franchises, and independent artists as a transmedia producer, Ms. Burns currently serves as Vice Chair of the Producers’ Guild of America New Media Council. She has worked on past projects that include Pirates of the Caribbean and Tron Legacy for the Walt Disney Company, James Cameron’s Avatar for Fox, and Halo for Microsoft.

Scott Rogers NYFA Game Design School faculty Scott Rogers: Scott Rogers is the game designer and creative director of more than 50 AAA games for Disney, Sony, Capcom, Namco and THQ. His games have sold over 50 million copies worldwide. Over his career, Scott has partnered with major licensors including Warner Brothers, Nickelodeon, MGA and DC Entertainment. For the last four years, Scott was an Imagineer at Walt Disney Imagineering's R&D department where he helped create interactive experiences installed in Disney's parks including: Mickey’s Fun Wheel Challenge, Legends of Frontierland and several app-based interactive games. Scott has authored two books on game design: "Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design" and "Swipe This! The Guide to Touchscreen Game Design." Both books are top sellers and "Level Up!" is the #1 best seller on


Click here to see samples of work created by NYFA student Game Studios.

Game Design Career Opportunities

The game industry is growing four times faster than the U.S. economy and annual compensation for game industry employees is around $95,000 (Source: ESA Video Games in the 21st Century: The 2014 Report). The Academy’s Game Design & Development School prepares students to achieve professional success in addition to building essential skills. Academy students practice honing skills prototyping and playtesting games, operating industry-standard software tools, and being a creative leader. Successful completion of the game design program comes with a personal digital portfolio of games for you to post online. Academy programs prepare students for a variety of career opportunities for numerous companies in game design and development.

Contact the Game Design School

If you wish to learn more about the Game Design & Development School at the New York Film Academy, you can call us at +1 (212) 674-4430 or click the below links to receive more information and apply online.

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