Discover Summer Video Game Design Programs and Camps for High School Students
Introduction to Summer Camps with a Focus on Video Game Design
The process of working on a video game design brings together creativity, imagination, artistry, and technical skills. With advances in technology, video games have become more and more sophisticated. As a result, game design is often a collaborative effort that involves a variety of qualities and skills. As gaming has become more popular, there have been opportunities to be a part of this field. Additionally, the number of video game design summer camps for high school students has increased in areas across the United States.
Exploring the Field of Video Game Development and Design
Many colleges now offer degrees in areas relating to game design. There is a partial list of colleges, such as the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of Utah, included in an article by Successful Student. The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) also has information about education levels and career possibilities for students with an interest in video game design. This can be found on the OOH under the larger category of Multimedia Artists and Animators.
If high school students are interested in game design, it can be beneficial for them to learn about college majors and career pathways in this field. One way that students can gain information, as well as experience in this area, is through participating in a summer camp.
There are a variety of game design summer camps that are offered for high school students, particularly on college campuses. Some camps focus on the field of video game design as a whole, while others focus more on building specific skills such as coding.
As high school students consider potential game design summer camps, it can be useful to research and read about options in order to find opportunities that would best align with their goals, ambitions, and interests. Students can read more about some of the factors to consider when researching a summer camp in an article on our blog.
Overall, a structured summer experience may be useful in determining whether the field of game design is an area that a student may or may not want to pursue after high school.
Game Design and STEM Summer Camps
Video game design and development can be considered as an area that falls under the broader domain of STEM, which includes science, tech, engineering, and mathematics. For students with an interest in learning more about a variety of STEM-based summer programs, there are a number of exciting opportunities included in the STEM section of this directory.
In addition, for students who are interested in computer science, programming, web design, and other technologically-oriented areas, there are engaging tech-based summer opportunities included in the computer camps section of this directory.
Examples of Summer Video Game Design Camps
This article is designed to provide information about and descriptions of summer video game design opportunities for high school students. The content includes a variety of programs offered during the summer that provide the opportunity to develop skills, engage in collaborative activities, and learn from experienced instructors.
As a note, if a summer camp is not an option, students can pursue other opportunities to find out more about game design. For example, there may be a possibility of shadowing someone locally, who is working in the area of game design. It may also be useful to research colleges to find out more about possible majors and educational pathways in the field.
The game design camps that follow are opportunities that are offered during the summer for high school students. The list of summer camps in this article is not meant to be exhaustive. Instead, it is meant to share examples of the types of game design and development programs that are available for students.
Video Game Design Summer Camps for High School Students
Marist College Summer Design Program
The game design summer camp at Marist offers a unique opportunity for high school students to immerse themselves in the field of video game development and design. In this program, students have a chance to generate ideas for games, utilize technological tools on the campus, and collaborate with peers to develop new games. The program enables participants to get an idea of what it is like to work in the field of game development.
This two-week summer camp provides an opportunity for high school students to learn how to take their creative ideas and put them towards developing interesting and engaging games. During the program, students have a chance to learn from and interact with a professor from the university.
One of the features of the game design opportunity is the focus on experiential learning. Participants begin the process of game design and development soon after beginning the program. They then build their skills during the program to add exciting aspects to the creation of games.
This pre-college program enables students to get a preview of being on a college campus. Students have the chance to stay in university-based housing, utilize resources on the campus, and interact with peers throughout the experience.
There is no prior coding experience required to participate in this program. It is intended for high school students who are entering the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades.
Learn more: Marist Pre-College Game Design
University of Wisconsin, Whitewater Game Design Summer Camp
The UWW summer camp provides students with the opportunity to gain insight into the field of game development and utilize hands-on learning experiences to acquire new knowledge and skills. The camp focuses on helping students learn about the different phases of generating a game and allowing them to apply their knowledge towards creating actual games that can be played.
During the week-long camp, students have the chance to meet, converse with, and learn from university faculty members. While many students participating in this program enjoy playing video games, they do not have to be experienced in coding or programming in order to engage in this summer opportunity. The program enables students to take their thoughts, ideas, and imagination that may have emerged through game-play and become much more familiar with what is involved in developing games.
Through the program, participants get to meet peers with a similar interest (gaming) and work in cooperating with other students in the video game design process. Using the areas involved with making a game, students can engage in critical thinking, creativity, and communication. These are all aspects involved with the game design industry.
This pre-college summer camp gives participating students the chance to learn about college life, stay on a campus, and become familiar with the educational resources at the university.
The summer camp is intended to be for students who are going into the eighth grade through the twelfth grade as well as students who have just completed high school.
Learn More: UWW Game Development Camp
University of Southern California (USC) Introduction to Video Game Design Summer Program
The game design opportunity at USC is a part of the summer programs that are offered to high school students through the university. The program enables high school students to gain a holistic look at the development of video games and gain an understanding of many of the aspects that are involved with game design. Participants also have the opportunity to engage in a variety of experiential learning exercises that serve to enhance their knowledge and skills in the area of video game design.
Through this four-week program, high school students have the chance to use their creativity and technology skills to begin designing games. Students become more familiar with the technological resources at the university that are involved with developing video games. Participants also have the opportunity to learn from professionals in the field and to visit locations where games are made, such as the Electronic Arts Studio.
Participants also work cooperatively with peers, learn about the components that go into developing a game, and test out games being created through this summer experience. Students have the option of staying on the campus of USC to get a preview of what life is like when staying on a college campus. There is also the option to commute during this program, which involves returning home after the daily educational activities have concluded.
The program is open to high school students who have finished at least their freshman year.
Learn more: USC Summer Game Design Opportunity
Michigan State University Video Game Design Summer Camps
The summer game design camps are run by the university’s Department of Media and Information. There are several different video game summer camps that are offered for high school students. Each one enables students to learn in a college setting, gain skills that align with the process of game development and work collaboratively with peers and instructors.
The two-week Immersive Game Summer Camp involves developing and enhancing knowledge pertaining to video game development and implementing their learning to build a functioning game that includes the sophistication of interaction.
There are also two week-long summer camps that have a focus on video game design. There is a beginning camp, which focuses on helping students become familiar with a variety of aspects involved with game creation. Students learn about the process and the roles associated with game design and put their knowledge to use as they work towards developing a 3D game.
The advanced game design camp is intended to help students strengthen their knowledge and skills by working on 3D games that include a variety of features to keep users engaged. This summer camp provides participants with many opportunities to apply their prior knowledge and implement their new learning.
Most of the Media-based summer camps at Michigan State offer both a residential and commuter option for students. This enables students to determine which option works better for them.
The residential model can be useful for students who would like to gain experience staying on a college campus to prepare for life in a post-secondary educational institution. The commuter option enables students to take part in the learning activities and leave the campus each day when these activities have been completed. The Immersive Game Design summer camp is intended to be for residential students.
There is a limited number of scholarships available, and there is an application/form to complete in order to be considered. The summer camps are designed for students in high school.
Learn more: Michigan State Summer Game Development Camps
UCLA Summer Video Game Lab Institute
The Game Lab Institute Program is a unique experience that is designed to help high school students gain an understanding of video game design, particularly from the perspective of an artist. While students gain knowledge about computing and technological aspects of game development, this summer camp centers on bringing creative and artistic ideas to life through making visually-pleasing video games.
The two-week program provides opportunities for high school students to engage in interesting discussions about artistic principles, synthesize ideas into storylines for video games, and learn about the ways in which games are animated and developed.
One of the highlights of this summer experience involves students sharing their work as the program nears its conclusion. The presentation of student work is done in a way that is similar to a gallery walk, and it allows participants to see each other’s game designs and artistic visions.
This is a pre-college program that enables students to spend time in a college setting, utilize the university’s facilities, and get a preview of learning in a post-secondary environment. The program has two sessions with one that is for commuter students and another for students who would like a residential opportunity on the campus.
The program is intended for high school students in the freshman through senior year and at least age 14 by the summer.
Learn more: UCLA Video Game Summer Program
Syracuse Computing and Video Game Design Summer Program
This game design program gives high school students the chance to learn about aspects of video game design and apply their learning through experiential activities. The program focuses on the visual facets of game designing, which enables students to quickly view their work. The technological tool that is utilized is Alice, which enables participants to make three-dimensional objects, graphics, and animations.
This two-week summer program provides students with the opportunity to engage in the creative process in order to develop ideas for compelling video games. During the camp, students interact with and learn from a faculty member at the university, acquire new technology-based skills, explore education and career pathways that are connected to gaming and programming, and meet peers from a variety of locations.
Participating students work in collaboration with peers to generate animated video games based on interesting characters and scenes. They also have the chance to play the game that they are developing and to exchange gaming ideas with others in the program.
The computer and game design program is a part of the pre-college program that is offered through Syracuse. As a result, the game design experience enables students to utilize resources, engage in learning on a university’s campus and get a feel for the types of academic opportunities that are offered in a college setting.
The program has a residential option that enables students to stay in university housing, have meals in the campus dining halls, and get a window into being a college student. There is also a commuter option that provides students with the chance to participate in the educational activities and leave the campus at the end of each day.
The program may offer some aid to students based on financial need. The program is intended for high school students, who are at least fifteen years in age when the summer program begins.
Learn more: SU Computing and Video Game Development
University of Connecticut Summer Digital Media and Game Design Program
The UConn game design summer program enables high school students to gain knowledge and skills connected to developing new and compelling video games. The emphasis of this program is on experiential and inquiry-based learning. This gives participants the opportunity to learn by doing as they utilize technology to make their ideas come to life. There is no prior experience required to participate in the program.
The week-long summer experience enables students to learn and implement a variety of facets that are involved in creating video games. Participants explore the ways in which artwork (particularly two-dimensional art), stories, interaction, sound, and other factors play an integral role in designing video games. Students are also encouraged to generate ideas, figures, effects, and other components that enable them to develop high-interest games.
Through the program, students have the opportunity to work closely with a university faculty member, become familiar with educational opportunities in areas relating to game design, and learn about potential career options in the industry. Towards the end of the program, students typically a game that is developed and that can be shared with others.
Participants in this summer program have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a college-like experience that involves staying in dormitories, navigating the campus, eating meals at campus facilities, and getting a feel for post-secondary education.
The program is intended to be for current high school 9th, 10th, and 11th graders.
Additional Summer Game Design Programs for High School Students
University of Georgia Summer Video Game Camp
- This summer camp provides an introduction to the development and design of video games. The program helps students to learn about the different aspects that are involved with creating video games and the varying roles that people play in developing these products.
- During the camp, students work cooperatively to generate an idea for a game, that includes many different facets (e.g. figures, sound effects, scenarios, advancement levels, and more). Students then share their gaming idea with others towards the end of the experience.
- This program is intended to be for students between ages eleven and seventeen.
Learn more: UGA Video Game Design Camp
The New York Institute of Technology Graphic and Game Design Summer Program
- NYIT offers multiple digital design programs during the summer for high school students. One of the programs is focused on branding, another program enables students to learn about 3-D modeling and animation for video games, and an additional program centers around advanced skills in modeling, animation, and game design.
- Students can take part in one or more of the programs, as they are offered during different weeks during the summer.
- There are some merit-based scholarship opportunities and there is an application for these awards.
- This summer experience is intended for high school students in grades ten, eleven, and twelve.
Learn more: NYIT Summer Design Programs
Texas Tech University Minecraft Summer Camp
- The summer minecraft camp provides high school students with a chance to learn about and gain experience with a variety of technology skills, including coding and game design.
- The program enables students to gain foundational knowledge and skills in areas such as programming, modeling, animating, and digital designing. Participants have the chance to learn from professors and professionals. Students can also stay on the campus for a pre-college experience.
Learn more: Minecraft Video Game Design Summer Camp
Indiana University Summer Video Game Development Camp
- The Media School at IU offers two summer camps that enable high school and junior high students to explore and build skills in game development and design.
- There are multiple camps offered. One focuses on two-dimensional game development and another involves developing three-dimensional components for games. Both of these summer camps give students the chance to work with the university’s resources, interact with faculty members, and build their skills in video game development. There is also a summer camp that is designed for female students and focuses on building technological skills, which include gaming.
- There have been some scholarship opportunities for this summer camp.
- The summer camps are intended for students who are between the ages of thirteen and eighteen.
Learn more: IU Summer Camp in Game Development