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8 Best Game Design Courses Online in 2023

Posted in Game Design , Courses
Game Design Courses

Video games are awesome. And as the years pass and more unforgettable titles come out, it’s understandable that more and more people are aspiring to become game designers and developers. And if you’re someone who wants to create video games, enrolling in game design courses can help you find your start.

This article lists eight of the best online game design courses available. We also talk about game design and why you may want to learn it. Ready? Let’s get right to it!

What is Game Design?

Game design involves everything related to creating video games, including publishing later on. It’s an interdisciplinary field that pulls from other industries like computer science, creative writing, programming, graphic design, art, psychology, audio design, and more.

A game designer is typically responsible for conceptualizing video games and then bringing them to life every step of the way. They can be solo devs who work on indie projects, like Stardew Valley’s ConcernedApe. They can also be part of a team or game development studio like Rockstar, Blizzard, Bethesda, etc.

As a game designer and developer, your responsibilities may include:

  • Character, puzzle, and level design
  • Game art and animation
  • Project management
  • Coding using various programming languages
  • Working with game engines like Unreal Engine 5 or Unity

Why Learn Game Design?

If you’ve always had an idea for a game swimming around in your head, then it’s the perfect time to learn game design. A game designer course can help you finally start working on that passion project you’ve always wanted to create. You can get your start working on an indie game or eventually build up a good enough portfolio to get hired at your dream game studio.

Working for a big game studio means starting at the bottom — typically as a QA tester. Then, as you progress up the ladder, you may become a lead game developer. Alternatively, you can work on the more creative aspects of game development (if that’s something you prefer).

Note that learning game design may require you to have a background in some other fields, likely creative or technical. If you don’t have such a background, there’s no cause for concern. You can always learn to design games (through self-study, video game designer courses, traditional education, and more) even if you don’t have a degree.

The Best Game Design Courses in Comparison

Course

Description

Certificate

Price

Link

[Udemy] The Ultimate Guide to Game Development with Unity (Official)

Best Official Unity Course

Yes

$99.99 at full price; $11.99 on sale

Check Price

[edX] CS50’s Introduction to Game Development (Harvard University)

Best Free Game Development Course

Yes

Free to audit (no certificate) or $199 to earn a verified certificate

Check Price

[Coursera] Introduction to Game Design (CalArts)

Best Intro Course

Yes

Free if you have a Coursera Plus subscription - $59 monthly or $399 yearly; 7-day free trial

Check Price

[Udemy] Unreal Engine 5: The Complete Beginner’s Course

Best Unreal Engine 5 Course for Beginners

Yes

$99.99 at full price; $12.99 on sale

Check Price

[Coursera] C# Programming for Unity Game Development

Another Excellent Course for Learning Unity

Yes

Free if you have a Coursera Plus subscription - $59 monthly or $399 yearly; 7-day free trial

Check Price

[Udemy] Make Awesomely Strange Video Games with Unity & Playmaker

Learn to Create Games Without Coding

Yes

$29.99 full price; $9.99 on sale

Check Price

[Udemy] Complete C# Unity Game Developer 3D

Best Course for Learning Unity

Yes

$139.99 full price; $16.99 on sale

Check Price

[Coursera] C++ Programming for Unreal Game Development

Best for Learning C++ & Unreal

Yes

Free if you have a Coursera Plus subscription - $59 monthly or $399 yearly; 7-day free trial

Check Price

 

1. [Udemy] The Ultimate Guide to Game Development with Unity (Official) - Best Official Unity Course

Key Information

  • Instructor: Jonathan Weinberger and Unity Technologies
  • Level: Beginner+
  • Price: $99.99 at full price; $11.99 on sale
  • Certification: Yes
  • Duration: 36h 14m of video-on-demand (VoD)

Why We Chose This Course

If you’re a beginner looking to learn how to design video games using the Unity game engine, why not learn from the official source itself? This course was created by Jonathan Weinberger and Unity Technologies and is one of the best courses around if you want to learn Unity

Pros

  • Official course from Unity Technologies
  • Includes practically everything you need to learn to start game development in Unity
  • Tons of VoD

Cons

  • “Extras” section seems haphazardly put together
  • Old and new content included — can get confusing for some students

Enroll Now

2. [edX] CS50’s Introduction to Game Development (Harvard University) - Best Free Game Development Course

Key Information

  • Instructor: David J. Malan, Colton Ogden
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Price: Free to audit, $199 for verified certificate
  • Certification: Yes
  • Duration: 12 weeks of learning 6-9 hours

Why We Chose This Course

We included this online games design course because, well, it’s by Harvard. That name alone earns prestige, but what’s even better is that you can audit the course for free. This program can teach you 2D and 3D game development so you can jump into your project.

Pros

  • By Harvard
  • Audit for free
  • Intro course, but requires intermediate-level knowledge

Cons

  • Pricey if you want the certificate

Enroll Now

3. [Coursera] Introduction to Game Design (CalArts) - Best Intro Course

Key Information

  • Instructor: Fran Krause; CalArts
  • Level: Beginner
  • Price: Free if you have a Coursera Plus subscription - $59 monthly or $399 yearly; 7-day free trial available
  • Certification: Yes
  • Duration: 6 hours

Why We Chose This Course

If you aren’t quite sure whether you want to go into game design, this introduction course can help you decide. This introductory course is part of the Game Design: Art and Concepts Specialization on Coursera. We added this course to the list because it’s a short but great peek into the world of game design, enough to get your creative juices going.

Pros

  • Only six hours long
  • Great for beginners
  • Highly rated
  • Part of a larger specialization

Cons

  • Doesn’t go into the technical stuff

Enroll Now

4. [Udemy] Unreal Engine 5: The Complete Beginner’s Course - Best Unreal Engine 5 Course for Beginners

Key Information

  • Instructor: David Nixon
  • Level: Beginner
  • Price: $99.99 at full price; $12.99 on sale
  • Certification: Yes
  • Duration: 10h 6m of VoD

Why We Chose This Course

If you want to learn how to create games using the Unreal Engine 5 game engine, this course will take you through everything you know from start to finish. We included this course because we believe the step-by-step approach can help you learn effectively.

Pros

  • Great for beginners
  • Uses a step-by-step approach
  • Learn everything you need about working with Unreal Engine 5

Cons

  • Could use a lot more examples to help learners grasp concepts more effectively

Enroll Now

5. [Coursera] C# Programming for Unity Game Development - Another Excellent Course for Learning Unity

Key Information

  • Instructor: Dr. Tim Chamillard; University of Colorado
  • Level: Beginner+
  • Price: Free if you have a Coursera Plus subscription - $59 monthly or $399 yearly; 7-day free trial
  • Certification: Yes
  • Duration: 5 months at 7 hours per week

Why We Chose This Course

This course is an excellent choice for those who want to learn how to work with Unity with the C# programming language. Choose this if you’d like to go at your own pace and create applied learning projects to cement what you’ve learned. This course also includes a capstone project to ensure you understood all the lessons covered.

Pros

  • Perfect for beginners
  • Also teaches you C#
  • Learn over five months (7hrs/week)

Cons

  • Covers technical side more than creative aspects of game design

Enroll Now

6. [Udemy] Make Awesomely Strange Video Games with Unity & Playmaker - Learn to Create Games Without Coding

Key Information

  • Instructor: Michael Belmont
  • Level: Beginner +
  • Price: $29.99 full price; $9.99 on sale
  • Certification: Yes
  • Duration: 15h 7m of VoD

Why We Chose This Course

Suppose you have an idea for a video game and you want to make it now — but you don’t know how to code games. Does that mean you’re out of luck?

Not necessarily!

We included this course on this list because it’s one of the best classes for game design that allow you to learn how to make a game without ever writing a line of code. You might be able to get a taste of designing games before you fully commit.

Pros

  • Teaches you to make video games without having to know how to code
  • Fun and exciting
  • Tons of content for an affordable price
  • Highly rated

Cons

  • Some complaints of the course author not being super responsive to inquiries
  • Could cover Playmaker integration a bit more

Enroll Now

7. [Udemy] Complete C# Unity Game Developer 3D - Best Course for Learning Unity

Key Information

  • Instructor: Rick Davidson, Ben Tristem, Gary Pettie, GameDev.tv
  • Level: Beginner
  • Price: $139.99 full price; $16.99 on sale
  • Certification: Yes
  • Duration: 30h 34m of VoD

Why We Chose This Course

If you’d like to learn how to make video games using Unity, this is one of the best game design online courses to start with. This program will teach you C# from scratch, show you the various aspects of game design, then cap off your learning with practical exercises to help you absorb what you’ve learned.

By the end, you should be able to make a game using Unity in 2.5D or 3D. If 2D is more your style, you’re in luck — there’s a 2D version for you to try instead!

Pros

  • Tons of content to learn
  • Amazing value when on sale
  • Doesn’t just cover the technical side of things
  • Practical exercises to cement your learnings

Cons

  • Some minor complaints about some of the course’s contents being a bit outdated

Enroll Now

8. [Coursera] C++ Programming for Unreal Game Development Specialization - Best for Learning C++ & Unreal

Key Information

  • Instructor: Dr. Tim Chamillard; University of Colorado
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Price: Free if you have a Coursera Plus subscription - $59 monthly or $399 yearly; 7-day free trial
  • Certification: Yes
  • Duration: 4 months at 5 hours per week

Why We Chose This Course

This course is just like the other version above which can teach you how to code in C# and create games with Unity. The main difference, however, is that this course is recommended for intermediate learners. Nevertheless, we included it thanks to its quality and practical approach.

Pros

  • Fully flexible
  • Learn C++ and Unreal Engine 5

Cons

  • More for intermediate learners

Enroll Now

Other Notable Mentions

[Udemy] The Psychology of Games - Secrets of Good Game Design

[Udemy] Game Writing: Storytelling Through Video Game Design

[MasterClass] Will Wright Teaches Game Design and Theory

How We Chose the Gaming Design Courses on This List [Ranking Criteria]

The courses on this list are not arranged in any particular order. Instead, we ensured that each item would be valuable to you.

To put together this list of the best game designer classes, we first considered countless courses until we compiled our initial list. We looked closer at every item on the list, ensuring that they provided good enough value and met all the criteria we established.

We judged courses by the following standards:

  • Cost
  • Rating
  • Whether you can earn a certificate
  • Course coverage and material
  • Value

We also made sure to include courses covering various aspects of game design.

It’s worth mentioning that some of the courses on this list complement each other. For example, whether you choose Unity or Unreal Engine, you can benefit from enrolling in the Game Design: Art & Concepts Specialization course on Coursera. 

To further ensure that the game design workshops on this list provide great value, we contacted a few game designers and developers to seek their opinion.

Conclusion

No matter your reason for wanting to learn how to create video games, one of the best ways to learn will always be by enrolling in game design courses. Courses are often far more accessible than a traditional college education because they are affordable and flexible. Supplement your learning by enrolling in other courses related to game design, and you can work on your dream project in no time.

Not satisfied with enrolling in a game designing course?

Add A Few Game Design Books To Your Learning Rotation.

 

And if you're looking to build a game with your own website, we found discounts on NameCheap for domain names and web hosting.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which course is best for game designers?

It’s tough to determine which game designer courses are the best, especially considering everyone’s unique tastes, skill levels, and interests. We’ve compiled a list of our top recommendations above to help you choose your starting point.

2. Is game design a career?

It definitely can be! Some people start designing games for fun because they have an idea they want to explore or because it is a dream they have always wanted to fulfill. Many devs choose to continue creating games full-time, independently, or as a part of a small indie studio. Others try to find work at the big game studios where they hope to advance their careers.

3. How do I learn game design?

If you’ve always wanted to work on video games, you might be happy to know that it’s entirely possible to learn it all on your own. The best way to do so is by enrolling in a game design course or two. Remember to start at a difficulty that suits your level before working your way up to the more complex lessons!

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