Be more than just a gamer
Collaborate to build new worlds
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Game Design

In today’s game design professions, the experts who create and build games don’t work on an assembly line, handing pieces off to the next worker. They collaborate from day one, able to understand each other’s roles and expertise.

About Game Design

Students in Game Design will learn both theory and skill with faculty experts from across the university in the key component areas of games: dramatic narrative and character development, visual and sound synthesis, special effects and performance capture, programming and engine development, interface and interaction architecture development, game assessment and redesign. In their courses, students will learn how to apply their specialized knowledge from their majors to enhance these component areas. They will work in highly interdisciplinary and collaborative contexts to parallel the experience of developing effective, engaging and well-functioning games in diverse teams.

How to Participate

IDeATe's Game Design minor and courses are open to students from any major. The minor requires taking a portal course plus four courses from the collaborative and supportive course options. Students should contact the IDeATe advisor to discuss curriculum and to make a loose plan of study. 

Students may also opt to take just one or two courses to fulfill course requirements or to explore an area of interest. Pursuing a minor is not a prerequisite for taking the Game Design courses.


The table below outlines the curriculum requirements and course options for Game Design. For a listing of the courses being offered this semester, please visit the Courses page. 

Minor - Five courses

One Portal Course:

  • For DC, CFA, TSB majors: 15-104 Introduction to Computing for Creative Practice
  • For CIT, MCS, SCS majors: 62-150 Introduction to Media Synthesis & Analysis

Four Collaborative or Supportive Courses:

  • 53-352 Designing Achilles in a Video Game
  • 53-353 Understanding Game Engines
  • 53-471 Game Design, Prototyping, and Production
  • 53-230 Programming for Game Designers
  • 53-451 Research Issues in Game Development
  • 60-333 Character Rigging for Production
  • 05-418 Design of Educational Games
  • 15-466 Computer Game Programming
  • 53-371 Role Playing Games Writing Workshop
  • 53-409 Game Design
  • 60-419 Experimental Game Design
  • 76-285 Team Communication
Note: Students also have the option of taking one Collaborative or Supportive course from one of the other IDeATe areas.

Double-counting: Students may double-count up to two of the IDeATe minor courses for other requirements.


The IDeATe collaborative studios promote hands-on learning through making, critique, and iterative design. Students in these courses apply skills from both technology and arts disciplines to prototype ideas and leverage the diversity of perspectives to produce innovation in their field. Learning happens both through the instructor and through the interdisciplinary peer cohort.

Character Rigging for Production

Offered by: Art

In computer animation, rigging is the art of building a digital skeleton and control system to drive the animation of a character or object. This particular course will focus on the process needed to create fully articulated characters that are strong enough for film and/or video game production. We will start with rigging fundamentals to learn proper joint orientation for skeleton creation, focus on skinning techniques for attaching the skeleton to the character afterwards, and then work on building a system of controls to move the character in compelling ways. Certain topics will include kinematics,...

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Game Design, Prototyping, and Production

Offered by: Entertainment Technology

This is a lecture and project based course focused on the design and development of video games.  The course instruction will cover principals of game design and mechanics, rapid prototyping and iterative design processes, and project management.  It will examine business aspects of the industry that impact designs, including demographics, economic models, budgets, and marketing.

Students will work in collaborative, cross-disciplinary teams, forming their own "game studios" to tackle design challenges and create games of their own.   Teams will engage in hands-on development, and...

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Programming for Game Designers

Offered by: Entertainment Technology

Game design sits at the crossroads of many different disciplines--programming, art, writing, design, engineering, psychology, and more. This course takes a practical approach to programming and how it can be used to make one a better game designer. Through individual & collaborative projects, students will learn programming tools, techniques for working with data, methods of working with teams, and prototyping strategies. This course is geared toward non-programmers looking to add programming to their game design toolset.

Spring 2015 instructor: Dave Culyba

Spring 2015 course...

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Research Issues in Game Development

Offered by: Entertainment Technology

This course covers evolving trends in technology and how they can apply to game design. Recent advancements in virtual reality, augmented reality, cloud computing, 4K video streaming, and alternative input devices are changing the way that we create, deliver, and experience games. Students will form collaborative teams to explore these platforms and address design challenges by creating games for them and testing their designs.

Fall 2016 instructor: Tom Corbett

Understanding Game Engines

Offered by: Entertainment Technology

Students will learn the fundamental components and features of game engines (such as objects, inputs, movement, interactions, physics, UI, artwork and animation, sound, and more) and the terminology and theory behind them. Students will attend lectures and participate in example exercises to illustrate these concepts, and put these concepts to practice in their assignment work. This course does not have pre-requisites, but a basic understanding of common code concepts (variables, loops, conditional statements) is recommended.

Fall 2016 instructor: Tom Corbett


In addition to the collaborative studios, the IDeATe network also incorporates a number of existing courses from across the university into its curriculum. These courses have significant applications in the technology-arts realm and serve to enrich the student experience in IDeATe and at Carnegie Mellon.

Teaches students some of the higher-level techniques that are necessary to implement interesting computer games
Offered by: Computer Science
Combine processes and principles from game design and instructional design.
Offered by: Human Computer Interaction
This course will, through both reading the source materials and playing games, examine and understand what the Greeks knew of the hero's role in story and culture and then look at how those ideas have come down to us and how we can use them to design better games.
Offered by: Entertainment Technology
A practical and theoretical game design course focused on innovative forms of gameplay.
Offered by: Art
Students in this course will read and write about game design, and design many games of their own.
Offered by: Entertainment Technology
Primarily for writers looking to work in games, this class also serves anyone interested in creating interactive stories.
Offered by: Entertainment Technology
This mini will introduce you to research and theory on how to create effective teams.
Offered by: English


A student can choose to enroll in an IDeATe concentration or minor either in their sophomore or in their junior year. These required portal courses introduce students to the concepts and practices of knowledge areas beyond their discipline that contribute to the subject of each minor/concentration.

Arts and Humanities Students
15-104 is an introduction to fundamental computing principles and programming techniques for creative cultural practices, with special consideration to applications in music, design and the visual arts. Intended for students with little to no prior programming experience, the course develops skills and understanding of text-based programming in a procedural style.
Engineering / Computer Science Students
The course is an introduction to basic principles for the creation of digitally mediated content. The course is aimed towards students from science and engineering disciplines who have limited exposure to content analysis and authoring.


Faculty members from across the university collaborate to develop and instruct courses that are collaborative in nature and support diverse areas of student expertise.

Tom Corbett
Entertainment Technology Center
Game Design
David Culyba
Entertainment Technology Center
Game Design
Chris Klug
Entertainment Technology Center
Game Design
Jim McCann
The Robotics Insitute
Game Design
Paolo Pedercini
School of Art
Animation & Special Effects Game Design
Jesse Schell
Entertainment Technology Center
Game Design