What is game design?

Game Design is the theory and practice of creating games. We focus on games broadly speaking – puzzles, toys, board games, role-playing, sports, or simply not stepping on the cracks in the sidewalk. Making games offers an opportunity for creative expression, for simulating real-world problems, for positive social change, and for communicating complex ideas about systems and processes. 

What is the Game Design Certificate?

The Game Design Certificate is an interdisciplinary program that gives students from a wide variety of backgrounds the chance to make games. The certificate requires 18-19 credits and is jointly offered by the departments of Curriculum and Instruction, Art, and Computer Sciences. Certificate students work both independently and in small teams to develop a portfolio of board games, video games, and physical spaces. The certificate focuses on creating, testing, and understanding how to design gameplay to be fun and impactful. 

What will students gain?

Students acquire the skills, understanding, and background to create and produce games independently, to develop a body of work, and to gain critical perspectives on games and game design.

How do I get involved?

Interested students may wish to consult with an advisor in the School of Education Student Services office, 139 Education Building, 608-262-1651, or studentservices@wisc.edu, to discuss course sequencing, declaring, and other issues related to this field of study. Current students can schedule a Student Services appointment online through the Starfish app in MyUW.

Declaration Process

To be eligible to declare the Game Design Certificate, students must complete two courses prior to submitting a certificate declaration. One course is required of all prospective certificate students:

CURRIC 357 Game Design I3
The second course may be selected by the student from the following options:
ART 107 Introduction to Digital Forms3
COMP SCI 200 Programming I3
COMP SCI 220 Data Science Programming I4
COMP SCI 300 Programming II3
Students meeting the eligibility criteria who intend to complete the Game Design Certificate may find the declaration form on the School of Education's Certificate Programs page. The declaration for this certificate program can be submitted at any time during the calendar year.

Certificate Requirements

The Game Design certificate program includes both required and elective coursework for a minimum of 18 credits. All coursework must be taken for a letter grade. At least 10 credits of the certificate must be earned in residence at UW–Madison. 

Students must have an overall 2.5 GPA in Game Design Certificate coursework upon completion of the certificate.

Required Courses
CURRIC 277 Videogames & Learning3
or CURRIC 576 Topics in Game Design
CURRIC 357 Game Design I3
CURRIC 432 Game Design II3
ART 107 Introduction to Digital Forms3
Computer Science Elective
Select one of the following:3
Programming I
Data Science Programming I
Programming II
Arts Elective
Select one of the following:3-4
Digital Imaging Studio
3D Digital Studio I
Digital Interactive Studio
3D Digital Studio II
Graphic Design for Games
3D Digital Studio III
Environment Design for Games and other Virtual Storytelling Spaces
Total Credits18-19

Certificate Completion Requirement

This undergraduate certificate must be completed concurrently with the student’s undergraduate degree. Students cannot delay degree completion to complete the certificate.

  1. Utilize the design and technical skills necessary to create games.
  2. Discuss the critical and theoretical perspectives necessary to understand the production and reception contexts in/for which they design such games.

Information about faculty, staff, and other contributions to the Certificate in Game Design can be found on the Game Lab's website.