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New York Film Academy Game Design

Game Design School at the New York Film Academy

Fantasy soldiers on the battle field


Game design students run their own in-school studio, get hands-on support from professional programmers, and release at least one digital game online.

Few careers are based on play, but game design and development are definitely the exceptions. To engage in games is something that predates digital technology – by thousands of years, in fact – and the past few decades have accelerated this immensely as diverse forms of digital gaming and new platforms have driven exponential industry growth.

The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Game Design School, with campuses in New York and Los Angeles, nurtures game designers and creatives. Through our total immersion workshops, seminars, lectures and our innovative Game Studio, the game design student follows a path of skills development in three general areas:

Playable System Design. Ask, “What is a game?,” and learn about how rules, procedures, and objectives are at the core of what defines each game. Just as important, you need to learn what makes all successful games compelling.

Prototyping, Playtesting and Iteration. It starts with a rough design, physical or digital, that you take to the prototype stage. With that, you can place a working model of your game in the hands of players who can test how it works, providing valuable feedback that allows you to refine the game design. From that point forward, you work in a team (that includes a professional programmer) and collectively develop the game to a working product.

AGILE Development and Game Industry Development. By leading their own student studio with classmates each semester, the game design student gets exposed to the gamut of game development functions and where he or she might focus their own career. These career directions might include lead game designer, producer, artist, programmer or publishing exec – as well as perhaps becoming a game entrepreneur.


Two important components of the NYFA Game Design School set it apart from many similar programs. They are the school’s world-class faculty and the Game Studio class.

As detailed on the faculty page, all Game Design School students study with A-list game developers, each with impressive industry credits. Game Design School instructors have decades of real world experience: they have created games for companies that include Microsoft, Activision, Disney Interactive, Sony Online, Warner Brothers, Sesame Workshop, MTV, gamelab, Kaplan Inc., Lego, Prototype161, Gigantic Mechanic, Games for Change, Institute of Play among many others. Students frequently cite faculty background and insight as essential to their development. Among the games designed by NYFA current and past faculty are Diner Dash, Ayiti: The Cost of Life, Rebel Monkey, Stack-It, VENDOR (a graphic novel now in development as a video game), Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, Ghostbusters, Battle for the Future, Sissyfight 2000, LEGO World Builder, Gamestar Mechanic, Miss Management, Jeopardy! Online, Wheel of Fortune Online, Trash Tycoon, and many others. Faculty members have published extensively with following books to their credit: Casual Game Design: Designing Play for the Gamer in All of Us and Game Design Workshop: Designing, Prototyping, and Playtesting Games.

Every semester each game development student leads a 2-4 person game studio with his/her classmates as part of NYFA’s Game Studio class. As part of this class, each studio releases a functioning digital game online every semester that students can proudly include in their professional portfolios. Game Studio faculty mentor the studios hands-on as executive producers and chief technology officers. All studios follow the Agile software development methodology and use the industry-standard collaboration tools: Confluence, Jira, Greenhopper, and SourceSafe. To ensure that students can output high quality technical projects a professional programmer is assigned to work with each studio.

Why do game design students work with a professional programmer? While it helps for game designers to have some computer knowledge and aptitude, it is not a prerequisite. With the professional programmer as part of the team, game students gain valuable programming knowledge and get exposure to how game programming is done in industry. This model is unique to NYFA among all college game programs in the world. It ensures that students get to execute design plans in the very first semester they are enrolled at NYFA. This is not just good training – the games each studio group produces will become online portfolio pieces that students can use to help break into the game industry.

Another important advantage of studying game design and development at NYFA is that all students formally learn to become storytellers. A focused education in NYFA’s high-energy atmosphere enables a cross-fertilization of ideas and expression. To take advantage of this, all game design students study improvisational acting. Improv is a great tool for game developers because it teaches everyone how to think on their feet, how to communicate and collaborate effectively, and how to deal with conflict – all in a constructive setting. When a game design student studies improv at NYFA, they are studying with some of the best faculty and students anywhere.

NYFA provides a wide range of game design programs to fit your aspirations and schedule. Please click here to visit the Game Design and Development Student Resources section of our website.

It is possible to study in the One-Year Conservatory Program in game design at NYFA, or earn an Associate, Bachelor, or Master of Fine Arts degree. Follow the links to learn more.

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