This February, I just became a student at Santa Monica College (SMC). I chose to attend that college because it offers a certificate in Game Design at its Academy of Entertainment & Technology (AET) campus. SMC is a community college, which means that the tuition is also reasonable. ($20 per unit, plus $46 student services fee for California residents.) Other video game curriculums in the Los Angeles area are offered by more expensive institutions, such as Westwood College and UCLA. SMC is a reasonable choice for people who cannot obtain student loans or other financial assistance.
The curriculum for the Game Design certificate is designed in a manner to help students develop portfolios to help with their job search. The education can also be transferred to four year universities, if students choose to continue elsewhere. Here are the courses for the Game Design certificate at SMC:
ET 13 – Game Prototyping (3 units)
ET 15 – 3D Game Prototyping (3 units)
ET 42 – Principles of Game Development (2 units)
ET 44 – Game Design / Play Mechanics (3 units)
ET 49 – Game Development Project (4 units)
Right now, I take ET 42 and ET 19A (Introduction to Animation.) ET19A and ET 37 (Digital Imaging for Design—It’s basically Photoshop) are prerequisites for ET 15, which uses Maya. Later, I plan to take the other classes in the Game Design sequence.
I hear that the Game Design program at SMC is relatively new, and plans are in the works to expand the program. Hopefully, curriculum will become available for students who want to focus on learning game audio, visuals, programming and other areas. One of the faculty, David Javelosa, has professional experience producing video game audio. The AET campus provides visual arts courses in animation, which reasonably transfers to game development. Also, the SMC main campus has C++, linear algebra, and discrete mathematics classes for those who wish to learn game programming. There is a strong possibility of SMC providing curriculum for all areas of game development.
By pursuing a Game Design certificate at SMC, I intend to accomplish three things: learn more about video games, develop a video game portfolio, and build a professional network. Fortunately, the AET campus is at a great location for networking—on the next block are offices for Sony Computer Entertainment and Microsoft. Also within the city of Santa Monica is Activision; other video game publishers are nearby, as well. Just wander into one of the restaurants near the campus, and you might encounter professionals discussing plans for games being developed.
I’m excited about beginning Game Design studies at SMC. It seems like a good deal, and I encourage more people interested in learning about how to make video games to check out the school.