The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program in Game Art addresses an area of specialization with 2-D and 3-D graphics for real-time systems such as games and simulations.

In the Game Art program, you’ll express your creativity and prepare for a productive career. The program develops fine artists with a strong core foundation who use contemporary technology. You’ll be prepared to become an effective, creative partner—whether co-founding your own indie development studio or working on a large AAA title.

Successful practice engaging gaming, virtual/XR and real-time technologies requires a deep foundation in traditional methods and approaches in the visual arts. Drawing on the longstanding history of UArts in both applied and fine arts, the Game Art program is uniquely positioned to accomplish this goal. Game development is a cross-disciplinary field, and our approach uses a collaborative, interdisciplinary framework to develop skilled, virtual 3-D artists who can create compelling, complex digital worlds, from concept through realization. Nowhere but UArts will you find such a diversity of disciplines combined with the support of a small creative community.

UArts’ commitment to this rapidly emerging field is undeniable. In 2019, we opened a 5,600-square-foot Center for Immersive Media dedicated to motion-capture and immersive technologies like augmented and virtual reality. Game Art Program Director Erik Van Horn taught one of the world’s first Artmaking in VR courses here. Learn more about the Center for Immersive Media. 

UArts alumni have gone on to work on titles like the God of War series (Sony) and the World of Warcraft series (Blizzard). Recently, Danielle Vuono BFA ’19 was 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. She went on to win the prestigious WomenIn Scholarship from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.

The game industry is the biggest entertainment industry in the world today, employing more artists than any other industry. Games-as-entertainment is just the tip of the iceberg. A mastery of real-time graphics and game engine technology is the most in-demand skill set for designers in any field and applies to industries ranging from entertainment to medical visualization, scientific modeling, educational applications and more. Professional careers include 3-D generalist, environment artist, character artist, gameplay animator, game designer, level designer, UI artist, UX designer and VFX artist.

Philadelphia is the place to study game design, as it’s hailed as the best place in the U.S. for startup businesses, is home to AAA Studios and has an active indie game development scene. UArts’ Game Art program is active in the local game development community, and our students work hand in hand with industry professionals in game jams and other industry events. With campus located on the Avenue of the Arts in Center City, you’ll be at the center of the local scene.

Game Art is a synthesis of storytelling, graphics, sound & music, cinema & theater, animation, and fine art skills. With its rich multidisciplinary history, UArts is the perfect environment to mold the Game Artist of the future.
— Erik Van Horn, Program Director Game Art (BFA)

Click the images below to read more.

Erik Van Horn
Erik Van Horn

Game Art (BFA)
Digital Art Director, 'Magic: The Gathering'; Disney Animation Studios
Jeremy Maas headshot
Jeremy Maas

Game Art (BFA)
Designer of applications, games and experiences
Jessica Creane - UArts GameArt Faculty
Jessica Creane

Game Art (BFA)
Founder of IKantKoan Games; Author of 'Chaos Theory' theater production that blends gaming and theater
Jason Corbett

BFA '15

Member of the winning team of the Philadelphia Museum of Art's 2017 Hackathon

About the Curriculum

Game art of a character standing at the edge of a cliff with tall stone sculptures surrounding, birds flying in the distance and a yellow and blue sky by Krys Galvez BFA ’19
Krys Galvez BFA ’19, "Rehn A Concise Worldguide"

The Game Art program utilizes a collaborative, 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. You’ll be 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. You’ll 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 they adapt to rapid changes in industry.

Sample Curriculum
Duration: 4 years full time
Credits: 120 credits
Major requirements: 63 credits
Discipline history: 12 credits 
Critical Studies: 30 credits 
Free electives: 15 credits

First Year
Fall semester: 16.5 credits
Image/Time (3c)
Computer Art Studio (3c)
Drawing: Objects & Space or Object/Environment (3c)
Art History Survey I or II (3c)
Writing I Placement (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (1.5c)

Spring semester: 16.5 credits
Intro to Interface Design (3c)
Drawing: Objects & Space, Object/Environment, Video Production, Body as Form or Found & Fabricated (choose one) (3c)
Color (3c)
Thinking Through Science (3c)
Writing II Placement (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (1.5c)

Second Year
Fall semester: 15 credits
Sound Design (3c)
Programming for Creatives (3c)
Intro to 3-D Animation (3c)
History of Games (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Spring semester: 15 credits
Intro to 2-D Computer Animation, Illustration I: Pictorial Foundation or Figure Anatomy (choose one) (3c)
Virtual Environments (3c)
Advanced 3-D Computer Modeling & Lighting (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)

Third Year
Fall semester: 15 credits
Advanced 3-D Animation (3c)
Game Concepts I (3c)
Virtual Environments II (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Spring semester: 15 credits
Professional Practices (3c)
Game Concepts II (3c)
Discipline history (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Fourth Year
Fall semester: 15 credits
Digital Studio (1.5c) or Design Internship (3c)
Senior Studio I (3c)
Discipline history (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice, based on choice above) (3–4.5c)

Spring semester: 12 credits
Senior Studio II (3c)
3-D Simulation & Effects or Special Effects Composition (choose one) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)

Free elective credits can be used to

  • take additional classes in your primary area of interest;
  • pursue or explore other creative interests in the arts; or
  • minor in one of the 23 programs that are open to all undergraduate students.

Critical Studies is where creative practice and critical reflection intersect. These courses provide  common ground for all UArts students and offer unique forums for exchanging ideas through different critical perspectives and approaches. A broad range of interdisciplinary courses will develop and deepen your critical thinking skills, communication and research toolkits, and understanding of the history and criticism of creativity.

Learn more about Critical Studies.

Explore the full curriculum.

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