Course Sessions
Fall 1 Term Begins
Aug 27


You love video games, and you’ve set your sights on becoming a video game developer. But what do game developers really do? This introductory game development course answers that question by exploring not only the roles in game production and the tools needed to bring your concepts to life, but also the skills you need to market your game ideas. Pave the way for your passion to become a profitable pursuit.  

As a game developer, you’ll be involved in all aspects of production, from creating art concepts to promoting and selling your final product. Our flexible, online courses are 8-weeks long and asynchronous to accommodate your busy schedule.

What will you learn in Introduction to Game Development?  

Week One:
-The History of Games
-Game Development Process and Roles
-Games, Genres and Analysis
-Assignments: Game Analysis & Game Comparison

Week Two:
-Game Platforms and Distributions
-Independent and Commercial Game Development
-Game Frameworks and Elements
-Storytelling and Conveying the Story

Week Three:
-Inspiration and Research
-Player Experience and Engagement
-Gameplay and Mechanics
-Documentation and Becoming a Video Game Designer
-Assignment: Concept Documentation

Week Four:
-Game Art, Concept and Research
-Character Design and Creation
-Animation and Environment
-Visual Effects and Technical Art
-Being a Video Game Artist
-Assignment: Group Project Selection and Refinement

Week Five:
-Programming, Languages and Tools
-Game Engines and Physics
-Artificial Intelligence
-Networks and Multiplayer
-Assignment: Group Project—Prototypes

Week Six:
-Sound Design and Effects
-Voice and Dialogue
-Interactive/3D Sound and Music
-Production Tools and Audio Engines
-Assignment- Profile Assignment

Week Seven:
-Management and Scheduling
-Planning a Project
-Game Testing and QA
-Assignment: Group Project—Playtesting Results

Week Eight:
-Getting into the Industry
-How to be Successful
-Portfolios and Networking
-Being You
-Assignments: Discipline Tool and Final Game Project Report

Required Textbook: Novak, J. (2012). Game development essentials: An introduction. 

Tom Dowd Photo

Tom Dowd

Since earning his first published title in high school, Tom Dowd has contributed to an award-winning role-playing game, written two novels and short stories and served as senior designer on multiple computer games. His credits include Shadowrun, Vampire: the Masquerade, BattleTech, EarthDawn and MechAssault, and his book, Storytelling Across Worlds: Transmedia for Creatives and Producers, gives creatives the tools to develop their narrative across platforms.

At Columbia, Dowd develops curriculum and teaches game design, production, cross-media storytelling and game journalism.

Course: Introduction to Game Development

Introduction to Game Development is a survey course that serves as an overview to the video game industry. In it, you'll learn what artists, designers, programmers, and sound designers do and how they do it. You'll also learn something about how the industry works on the business and distribution side, and the differences between commercial and indie game development. It's the ideal introduction for someone thinking about getting into video development who's unsure about how these kinds of games get made and who makes them.

Course insight from Tom

Need more info?

Contact our advising team at or call 312-369-5646 (JOIN) to learn more and enroll.

Contact an Advisor