Express yourself through media in the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Game Art program at University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
In Game Art, our media are 2-D and 3-D graphics and immersive and interactive technologies. Using the tools of game design and gamification, you can become a visionary leader in fields as diverse as city planning, medical visualization and virtual tourism.
Games are a synthesis of film, theater, graphics, music, animation and fine art skills. Because UArts students can minor in more than 30 programs, we mold fine artists capable of
- multimedia installations in galleries;
- visualization at the forefront of technology;
- and the development of innovative, expressive indie games for app stores.
That kind of synthesis helped a recent UArts student work on a game that won the Independent Games Festival Award for Best Student Game.
UArts will also open a 5,600-square-foot Center for Immersive Media by 2020, with studios dedicated to motion-capture and immersive technologies like augmented and virtual reality. Learn more about the Center for Immersive Media.
And because you’re more complex than just one discipline or medium, the Game Art program lets you study what you love while also taking a minimum of 15 credits in other areas, such as audio electronics, painting or literature.
Erik Van Horn is an artist, animator and writer, and director of the UArts Game Art program.
He has more than 20 years’ experience in the game and animation industries. Career highlights include digital art director for Magic: The Gathering at Wizards of the Coast (a division of Hasbro) and senior training specialist at Disney Animation Studios. Feature credits include Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons, Bolt, Princess and the Frog and Tangled.
When he’s not teaching, Erik is a freelance digital artist as well as a fine art painter with a long list of past exhibitions including more than 20 solo shows and work in over 100 private collections.
This fall, UArts’ Game Art program and the International Game Developers Association will co-host a talk with the director and a screening of Shannon Sun-Higginson’s documentary, GTFO. Sparked by a public display of sexual harassment in 2012, GTFO pries open the video game world to explore a $20 billion industry that is riddled with discrimination and misogyny. In recent years, the diversification of the gaming community has led to a massive clash of values, with women bearing the brunt of the consequences every day through acts of harassment ranging from name-calling to cyber-vandalism and death threats. Featuring interviews with video game developers, journalists and academics, GTFO paints a complex picture of the video game industry, while revealing the systemic and human motivations behind acts of harassment.
Shannon Sun-Higginson is a documentary producer and director whose credits include GTFO (which premiered at SXSW), No Reservations on the Travel Channel, Parts Unknown on CNN and The Contenders on PBS. Her latest feature documentary is titled The Witman Project; it covers a 1998 murder case in rural Central Pennsylvania, and will be distributed by Magnolia Films and air on Discovery Channel in 2020. She currently works as a producer and director for All Ages Productions in Philadelphia.
The screening and talk will be held Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. in Caplan Recital Hall in Terra Hall, 211 S. Broad St. The event is free and open to to the public.
This year, UArts was the proud host of the Philadelphia chapter of the 2019 Global Game Jam! Artists of a variety of disciplines from all over the Philly area came together to collaboratively make games in just 48 hours. Students were given the opportunity to work alongside professionals for a full weekend! Projects ranged from full-fledged video games to handmade board games. Check out what they had to say about it!
I am so excited to attend my first GDC, the Independent Games Festival awards ceremony, make more connections and learn more.
My name is Danielle Vuono and I am a Game Art major at the University of the Arts. I began college at Maryland Institute College of Art for animation, then transferred to Alberta College of Art and Design in Canada for illustration. Finally, I decided to return to my roots in Philadelphia and transfer to The University of the Arts. Originally I attended for illustration, but after a semester I changed my major to Game Art to fulfill my need to create a more interactive and personal experience with my art. Before attending the University of the Arts, I interned at 15lb Pink Productions creating special effects for a National Film Board of Canada short film called Skin for Skin.
Once I changed my major to Game Art, I heard about a community called Philly Game Mechanics. Philly Game Mechanics is a community full of game developers, writers, artist, musicians, etc. who all share a love for games and making them. I attended game jams and events and made a bunch of friends and connections which led me to my current job with Gossamer Games. I think it is safe to say meeting my boss Tom Sharpe was one of the most important moments of my young adult life and my career as a game artist. I got an interview with Tom and almost immediately started working on Sole. It has been a little over a year now that I have been working for Gossamer Games and my life has changed dramatically. I never thought I would be a part of such an amazing team of people and be nominated for best student game at the Independent Games Festival 2019 where well-known games such as Night in the Woods and Celeste have been recognized.
Since working at Gossamer Games, I have gotten to attend MAGFest two times, showcased on the IMAX screen at the Franklin Institute, and will be attending PAX East in Boston this March as well as the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. I have learned an enormous amount through all these events and now have a community to turn to for support with my own art endeavors including my 360 3D-animated film for my senior thesis. I could not be more thankful. I am so excited to attend my first GDC, the Independent Games Festival awards ceremony, make more connections and learn more.
There needs to be a change in the dynamics of gaming. Something has to be different; I thrive to be that change and the difference.
I hope to bring my artistic, lore-driven style to the table and be a part of why people love games.
John Bezark is a West Philly based creative technologist, video artist and interactive designer. He works primarily in MAX/MSP/Jitter, node.js and webGL to build creative systems that are powered by technology. However, with a background in Theatre Directing, he also believes in making immersive and interactive experiences that are deeply rooted in storytelling and audience agency. He’s fascinated by complex systems, board games and history, and, on the whole, is looking forward to the future.
Chris Baldys is a musician and programmer based out of West Philadelphia. He plays guitar in the Post-Punk band “Rabbits To Riches” and performs solo music under the name “little stray” in addition to working with John Bezark on information sculptures. He’s excited to be playing with the immense amount of data and reference that surrounds us, that is, and shapes, the real. Emergent meaning; incomprehensible sources; Unprecedented scale. Communication is a splendid and horrifying affair.
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Sample Courses in the Game Art Major
Drawing: Objects & Space
Computer Art Studio
User Interface Design
3D II: Advanced Modeling and Lighting
3D III: Advanced Character Animation
Virtual 3-D Environments II
Introduction to 3-D Animation
Programming for Creatives
Virtual 3-D Environments I
Introduction to 2-D Computer Animation
3D Simulation & Effects
Interactive Design Internship
About the Curriculum
The Game Art program utilizes a cross-college, interdisciplinary framework to create skillful virtual 3-D artists who can create compelling, complex digital worlds from concept through realization. Our approach balances the development of the artist’s creative voice with in-depth, systematic, progressive technical instruction. Students are exposed to broad historical contexts in order to develop rich aesthetics that push the boundaries of imagination. By emphasizing the artistic components of immersive media creation, we are able to re-think and re-frame the visualization of game worlds and experiences. Students will be prepared to be effective creative partners, whether serving as part of a small indie-game development team or working on a large AAA title.
Students who complete the Game Art program will demonstrate ability to
- utilize 3-D-game development tools and systems to produce technically competent works of art;
- imagine and express creative, innovative, visually engaging virtual worlds and characters;
- participate and collaborate successfully as effective members of creative development teams; and
- develop meaningful 3-D virtual objects, characters and worlds across a wide range of aesthetic styles, while adapting to rapid changes in industry.
To explore the full curriculum, click here.
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