MSUToday
Published: Aug. 27, 2019

Game development program ranks 7th nationally

Contact(s): Nicole Szymczak College of Communication Arts and Sciences office: (517) 353-5981 nls@msu.edu, Caroline Brooks Communications and Brand Strategy office: 517-432-0920 brooks78@msu.edu

Michigan State University ranks seventh nationally in game design and development for undergraduate program and eighth for graduate program, according to The Princeton Review.

Known for its education services and school rankings in dozens of categories, The Princeton Review released its 10th annual ranking lists naming the undergraduate and graduate schools with the best programs in game design. Schools were chosen based on data collected in a 2018 survey of administrators at 150 institutions, which offer game design courses, majors or degree programs. The schools surveyed included institutions in the U.S., Canada and abroad.

MSU has ranked in the top 10 since 2012, and the Game Design and Development program is the highest ranked out of all MSU programs. MSU also triumphs in the Big 10, securing the honor of being the only member with a game design program in the top 10 ranking.

According to The Princeton Review's survey, 62% of undergrad and 70% of grad students who enrolled in the schools' game design programs worked on games that shipped before they graduated. MSU is no exception. Since the program’s launch in 2005, the Department of Media and Information at MSU has offered students numerous opportunities to work on projects that are tangible and rewarding. 

Students engage with research on game development and design, create empathic games and attend field experiences in game design hotspots like L.A.

“Each year, we take students to visit top game studios in either San Francisco or Los Angeles,” said Jeremy Bond, a professor of practice teaching game design and development in media and infomation. “In 2019, we visited 11 game studios in four days, including Insomniac, Walt Disney Imagineering, Santa Monica Studio, Obsidian and thatgamecompany. We also spent a day at Disneyland with Imagineers to show the students around and talk about the process of developing attractions.”

MSU alumni have gone on to work for companies such as Sony’s Santa Monica Studio (God of War), Rockstar Games (Red Dead Redemption 2) and Insomniac (Spider-Man), with the titles receiving critical acclaim. Gaining skills in the lab and in the classroom, the students learn to collaborate and produce amazing games that receive attention from the media. 

The student-built, Plunder Panic, garnered numerous awards, such as the 2017 IndieCade Audience Choice Award. It was created in the Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab, or GEL Lab, an award-winning on-campus game studio that pays students to work on grant-funded, meaningful games.

"The schools that made our lists this year have stellar programs for aspiring game designers and developers," said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review's editor-in-chief. “Their faculties are outstanding and their facilities are awesome. Just as impressive: their alumni include many of the video game industry’s most prominent artists, designers, developers and entrepreneurs.”

The Department of Media and Information plans to expand on their success through an established interdisciplinary minor in game design and development that brings together students from the media and information, studio art and computer science departments. This will lead to a culmination of their studies, where students are paired with industry leads to help foster their skills. The minor already contains close to 100 students. The department is also working to establish a dedicated game design major for students looking to join the gaming industry.