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Master's Programme in New Media – Game Design and production

Game Design and Production is a multidisciplinary major that offers a unique mix of technical and artistic aspects of game development. Students can apply for the major with any Bachelor’s degree, and accepted students include programmers, 3D artists, animators, creative writers, architects, and even psychologists.
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Examen:

Konstmagister

Ansökningsperiod:

1.12.2020 – 4.1.2021

Undervisningsspråk:

engelska

Längd:

2 år, heltidsstudier

Behörighet:

Lämplig lägre högskoleexamen

Utbildningsområde:

Det konstnärliga utbildningsområdet

Studiepoäng:

120 studiepoäng

Högskola:

Högskolan för konst, design och arkitektur

Läsårsavgifter:

€15000/år (magister studier) för studeranden från länder utanför EU/EES

Ansökningsperioden börjar 1.12.2020 09:00 (UTC+2)

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Study objectives

Game Design and Production is a multidisciplinary major that offers a unique mix of technical and artistic aspects of game development. The major produces visionary, out-of-the-box thinkers who have the ambition to push the boundaries in the world of game design. Using a project-based, hands-on with minds-on approach, the major in Game Design and Production cultivates a strong community of students from highly diverse backgrounds. Students can apply for the major with any Bachelor’s degree, and accepted students include programmers, 3D artists, animators, creative writers, architects, and even psychologists.

Graduates of the programme will graduate with a Master of Arts (Art and Design) degree. Aalto University School of Science offers a “sibling major” of the same name that leads to a Master of Science (Technology) degree (diplomi-insinööri in Finnish). The M.Sc (Technology) path is recommended for students with a strong technical background, and students should apply according to the academic degree they wish to have. Content-wise the two programmes are alike and organised in close collaboration with one another. 

Upon graduating from the Master’s Programme in New Media – Game Design and Production, graduates will have:

  • Deep understanding of games and game players from a psychological and behavioural viewpoint. Graduates are able to analyse games and determine what makes a game entertaining. They also understand the emotional and cognitive aspects of human beings and know how to design engaging gaming experiences.
  • Wealth of skills and knowledge fueled by the latest research, technologies, and design tools. The “hands-on with minds-on” approach allows students to deepen their existing expertise and build a strong set of cross-disciplinary skills based on their personal interests.
  • Extensive portfolio of games. Graduates will have a portfolio of completed projects, which helps in getting into the games industry.
  • A visionary and groundbreaking mindset to shape the future of games. Graduates have the confidence and experience needed to make their unique vision come to life and bring forth a new generation of games.
  • Capability to take responsibility for various design decisions. Graduates can effectively adjust to unforeseeable and changing situations that may arise during the design and implementation processes.

Study languages

In the Master’s Programme in New Media – Game Design and Production, the language of instruction is English.

Content of the studies

The programme is tailored so that students have the freedom to put together a highly personalised study plan based on their specific areas of interest. The compulsory courses intend to give students a broad understanding of game design, i.e. set the foundation for their unique expression. Optional courses allow students to complement their core competencies with fields such as 3D animation, interactive storytelling, sound design, interaction design, and machine learning and AI tools for art and design.

Additionally, students may choose courses from all Aalto schools according to the personal study plan. It is strongly suggested that students venture outside their comfort zone as the greatest ideas often happen at the intersection of disciplines.

Topics

Through the courses in the Master’s Programme in New Media – Game Design and Production, students are immersed in a wide range of topics such as level design, game balancing, games user research, and game design psychology. To give concrete examples of the topics covered, here are some courses picked from the programme’s extensive curriculum:

  • Games Now! (3-5 ECTS)
  • Game Design (5 ECTS)
  • Computer Graphics (5 ECTS)
  • Human-Computer Interaction (5 ECTS)
  • Introduction to 3D Animation (4 ECTS)
  • Introduction to Sound Design and Music (1-5 ECTS)

Methods

The programme follows a hands-on with minds-on approach that forms a dynamic combination of theory and practice. Through various group projects, students develop their communication and negotiation skills as well as advanced project management skills. Communication skills are practiced not only through teamwork but also by developing and pitching game concepts, as well as creating game marketing materials.

A concrete example of developing students’ creativity and proactivity is the Game Project course where students design, develop and publish their own games. The faculty finds it crucial to help students develop a strong game design portfolio that enables them to stand out in the industry.

The teacher network includes both games industry professionals and games scholars. The programme also welcomes internationally acclaimed visiting specialists and guest speakers. Other learning methods include regular excursions to game companies, industry and peer feedback on students’ games, as well as thesis advisors from the industry. There are also multiple visits organised to international games industry events in Finland and abroad during the studies.

Structure

Overall, the Master’s Programme in New Media – Game Design and Production comprises a total of 120 ECTS credits. The two-year programme consists of:

  • Major (40-65 ECTS)
  • Possible minor (20-25 ECTS)
  • Elective studies (25-35 ECTS)
  • Master's thesis (30 ECT)

Personal Study Plan (PSP)

The Personal Study Plan (PSP) is a practical tool to define a student’s own study path, compiling an optimal selection of courses that are aligned with the student's interests and programme requirements. PSP is also a useful tool for students to keep track of their studies. At best, it shows where students are with their studies and sets concrete milestones for them to follow.

For further details on the education content, see study guide 2020-2022.

Postgraduate study options

Master’s Programme in New Media – Game Design and Production at Aalto is considered as a great foundation for doctoral studies and post-doc positions.

Internationalization

The topics and themes in the Master’s Programme in New Media – Game Design and Production are universal and global, and thus graduates can take their skills to any country in the world. As Finland is a gaming industry hub, the programme attracts a high number of international students. In addition, students can develop their global competencies by:

  • spending a semester at one of Aalto University’s partner universities around the globe
  • taking a summer course abroad
  • carrying out practical training abroad
  • carrying out master’s thesis research abroad
  • acting as a tutor for first-year students

Aalto University is international by nature, welcoming thousands of degree and exchange students from abroad every year. These students join the diverse Aalto community not only through studies but also via multiple free time events, celebrations and extracurricular activities around the campus. Active tutoring programs and support services work hard to help international students integrate into the Nordic culture and feel at home in Finland.

Multidisciplinary opportunities

Game design is a multidisciplinary field by nature, bringing together experts from various backgrounds. The programme embraces a multidisciplinary approach that supports the development of “T-shaped” skills, providing students the benefits of both specialisation and generalisation. While students have the opportunity to dive deep in a single field of their interest, the programme strongly embraces collaboration across disciplines which fosters creativity and provides students with a breadth of knowledge. Students are also encouraged to take on very unique and personalised study paths, enabled by the large variety of elective courses available.

Overall, Aalto University is well-known for bridging disciplines of business, arts, technology and science. The lively campus and freedom of choosing elective courses across the university bring students from different fields under one roof. This spontaneous multidisciplinary environment sparks new ideas, gathers enthusiasts around them and gives birth to friendships, networks, and every so often, startups.

Career opportunities

Video and mobile games are a thriving industry both in Finland and abroad, and the career opportunities pertaining to the creation of games are growing continuously. Typical career paths can be divided into three main categories:

  • Working in a top game studio as, for example, a game designer, game artist, programmer, producer or scriptwriter
  • Taking an entrepreneurial path and starting one’s own company. Our best student games, such as Pako and Shadow Bug have enjoyed worldwide success and critical acclaim.
  • Following an academic path and becoming a researcher in the field

Thanks to the flexible curriculum, many Aalto students work already during their studies and guarantee themselves entry positions before graduation. There is also a very active entrepreneurship community at Aalto, working as a springboard for founding a company.

Study option-specific Admission Procedure and Evaluation Criteria

Applicants meeting Aalto’s general eligibility criteria for master's studies will be evaluated and ranked according to the evaluation criteria that has been decided in advance for each study option. The applications to Master’s Programme in New Media - Game Design and Production will be evaluated based on the following criteria.

Phase I

Suitability

Assessed area

Applicant’s overall suitability to the study option, based on background, experience, motivation, and commitment for studies.

Admission requirements

 

  • Strong professional interest towards game design and/or game development
  • Insight into design and/or research related to games
  • Demonstrated competence in a skill relevant to making games, e.g., visual art, programming, sound design, creative writing.
  • Relevant previous studies
  • Fluent English (both oral & written)

Method of demonstrating competence

Motivation letter, CV, transcript of records (courses and grades), and other materials (e.g, links to an online portfolio, videos of completed games, Github, Artstation…) will be evaluated as a whole.

Note that if you provide links in a .pdf file, the links may be broken when the files are processed by the admission system. Thus, full URLs must be visible to ensure that the evaluators can access them. Please also note that the evaluators will not be able to download and install any software.

 

Phase II

Suitability

Assessed area

Applicant’s capability for independent creative work, analytical thinking, and communicating the results.

Admission requirements

 

  • Insight into game design  
  • Creative ideation and problem solving
  • Analytical thinking and critical reflection
  • Capability to document and communicate one’s work clearly and efficiently
  • Fluent written English

Method of demonstrating competence

Second phase assignments

The assignments are revised each year, but it is reasonable to expect, e.g., a board/card game design exercise with a given theme, and writing a short essay.

 

Suitability

Assessed area

Applicant’s further suitability to the study option, motivation, and commitment for studies/communication skills/ assessment of second-phase assignments

Admission requirements

 

  • Strong professional interest towards game design and/or game production
  • Insight into new media design and research related to games
  • Demonstrated competence in a skill relevant to making games, e.g., visual art, programming, sound design, creative writing.

Fluent English (both oral & written)

Method of demonstrating competence

Interview, portfolio

 

Evaluation process

The applicants will be first evaluated based on Aalto’s general eligibility requirements. Applicants meeting the general eligibility criteria for master's studies will be evaluated and ranked according to the evaluation criteria that has been decided in advance for each study option.

The selection process for applicants who meet the general eligibility criteria comprises of two phases. 

Phase I

In Phase I, the applications are evaluated based on the following criteria

  • Suitability
    • Strong professional interest towards game design and/or game production
    • Insight into new media design and research related to games
    • Demonstrated competence in a skill relevant to making games, e.g., visual art, programming, sound design, creative writing.
    • Fluent English (both oral & written)

These will be assessed based on the materials sent by the applicant, including a CV and a motivation letter.

Only the applicants who fulfill the requirements/are ranked highest in the preliminary evaluation will be invited to phase II in the selection process.

Phase II

In Phase II, the evaluation is based on the following criteria

  • Suitability/Second-phase assignments
  • Suitability/Interview, portfolio
    • Strong professional interest towards game design and/or game production
    • Insight into new media design and research related to games
    • Demonstrated competence in a skill relevant to making games, e.g., visual art, programming, sound design, creative writing.
    • Fluent English (both oral & written)
      These will be further assessed based on preliminary exercises that applicants have to make in the second phase and an interview, where also a portfolio of earlier work is presented.

Part of the applicants are invited to Phase II. The invitation to Phase II will be send to the applicants at latest 7 days in advance.

In Phase II the applicants should complete a set of preliminary exercises that will be send to them before the interviews. In the interview, the applicants should be prepared to present and discuss a portfolio of their previous work and projects. There will also be other questions asked about the applicants and their preliminary exercises.

The final selection decisions will be made based on the evaluation conducted in Phase II.

Study-option-specific documents requested

The documents requested from all applicants are listed on the Aalto University website (https://www.aalto.fi/en/study-at-aalto/applying-to-masters-programmes). In addition, applicants to this study option are requested to provide the following study-option-specific documents:

Portfolio

A portfolio is not needed in the first stage, but if the applicant has one, it’s good to provide the link for us in case we want to get more information about the applicant.

Maximum size of the Portfolio is 1.0 GB. Name the file Portfolio-lastname-firstname.pdf. If your portfolio contains password protected video links, include the password(s) in your portfolio. If a portfolio is not uploaded to the online application form by the deadline, the application will be rejected.

CV

Applications must include the applicant’s CV (single PDF-file) indicating personal data, educational background, work experience, exhibitions, publications and articles, awards and grants, study trips and positions of trust. As a game applicant, please also add links to videos or other audiovisual documentation of your games or related work such as interactive computer graphics. Note that we will not be able to download and test executable software binaries or source code.

Motivation letter

Applicants must write up a motivation letter of a maximum of 4000 characters in length, explaining why they wish to apply to the degree programme in question, what their particular interests are in the field, and what their hopes and expectations are regarding studies at Aalto University. The plan should explain the applicant’s personal strengths, areas of interest, professional visions and objectives.

Language of application documents

Application documents must be written in one of the following languages: Finnish (Swedish) or English.

Ansökningsperioden börjar 1.12.2020 09:00 (UTC+2)

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