Online Course for High School Students

Intro to Video Game Design

The world of gaming design

Ever wondered what it takes to customize your own video game? In this course, you’ll do just that. Discover how digital games are built and the skills game designers and developers use. Learn the art of storytelling and the techniques used to embed puzzles, action-adventure, and drama. See interviews with top game designers and explore careers in the field. If you are a committed gamer, a tech wiz, or someone who is intrigued with design, this course is a must.

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Program Dates

 Multiple 2- and 4-week sessions


For students ages 13+



What you need to know to design video games

Study the emergence of gaming, from Atari to Mobile gaming

Get an overview of the world of digital games, from the early days to the current state of the art. Discover the skills game creators use to bring their ideas to life.

Understand game design theory

Learn to identify the theories designers use. Experiment with Meaningful Play. Explore the frameworks behind elegant game design.

Dig into the process of customizing a templated game

Use the theories you learned to complete the mechanical aspects of a bare-bones pre-built GMS2 project.

Customize your 2D Platformer

Work with GMS2 to customize the pre-built demo and turn it into a 2D platforming game of your own design.

Become a digital storyteller

Learn the most widely-used narrative genres in digital gaming. Become familiar with storytelling techniques found in adventure, puzzle, Sci-Fi and other popular game genres—and gain insight into using them for your own game.

Explore college majors and future careers related to the field of video gaming

Topics covered in this course offer a good background for those thinking about pursuing a future in video game design and digital media.

How you will benefit

  • Learn to customize your own templated video game
  • Understand how game design theories allow for Meaningful Play
  • Learn the techniques of storytelling
  • Know how to build actions that align with the rules and narrative elements of the game
  • Gain a working knowledge of how video games evolved from Atari to XBox and Mobile gaming
  • Determine if video game design is a field you’d like to pursue

Student completing Rochester's online video game design course

3 Learning advantages designed for you

1. Flexible Learning

  • 100% online — works with your schedule
  • 20-25 hours of total instruction and course work, including engaging multimedia, simulations, and curated assignments for which you will receive guidance and support
  • You’ll learn through engaging videos. Tune in anytime that works for you
  • Engage with fellow students from around the world

2. Mentoring

You’ll receive guidance from a mentor who can support you and answer questions as you deepen your learning experience. You can expect:

  • Encouragement and direction on all assignments
  • Inspiration, motivation and confidence to help you succeed
  • Brainstorming to help as you prepare for your final capstone project

3. Final Project

The course culminates with a special final project that allows you to: 

  • Customize a templated video game, incorporating your own visual design and storytelling
  • Use GameMaker Studio 2 for this project 
  • Get feedback on your work from your mentor

Apply now for the next available course

June 11 - June 25

Intro to Video Game Design

Length: 2 weeks

Cost: $995

Application Deadline: Sunday, June 4, 2023

June 25 - July 9

Intro to Video Game Design

Length: 2 weeks

Cost: $995

Application Deadline: Sunday, June 18, 2023

July 9 - July 23

Intro to Video Game Design

Length: 2 weeks

Cost: $995

Application Deadline: Sunday, July 2, 2023

All course options, whether 2 or 4 weeks, have the identical educational content, learning materials, and number of assignments. The difference in length of course is due to time of year (not amount of instruction). We know the school year keeps you busy, so we’ve made the course longer during that time so that you can get assignments done.

Course designed by:

Joseph A. Loporcaro, PhD, Lecturer, University of Rochester, Video Game Design

Professor Loporcaro is a Lecturer at the University of Rochester in both Digital Media Studies and Computer Science. He has been teaching at the college level for over 13 years. His background spans all areas of mass media from traditional audio/video production to his ultimate focus on video games. Loporcaro has always wanted to be a teacher and relishes the opportunity to cultivate the next generation of great video game creators.

Joseph A. Loporcaro | Video Game Design Course Instructor | University of Rochester

Course Mentors

Miranda | Rochester Video Game Design Course Mentor


Undergraduate student at the University of Rochester majoring in Digital Media Studies and minoring in Computer Science and Spanish.

Tara | Rochester Video Game Design Course Mentor


Undergraduate at the University of Rochester majoring in Economics. Tara's currently working on creating a text-based RPG.

Emersyn | Rochester Video Game Design Course Mentor


Computer Science major in the Hajim School of Engineering at the University of Rochester. Currently, a Software Engineering Intern at Activision-Blizzard on the Risk Systems team. Emersyn has held the presidency in both the University of Rochester Esports club and the Computer Interest Floor, as well as the chair of the UR Overwatch team.

Student sitting at a desk and working at his computer

How to Apply

It’s easy. No transcripts or letters of recommendation are required. Our application will ask you to provide the following:

  1. Basic contact information for you and your parent or guardian.
  2. Why you wish to take this course. You can tell your story through writing, video, photos — any media you prefer. NOTE: Please submit all application materials in English.

Begin the guided process. It should take only a few minutes of your time to answer the questions.

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Want to know more?

Sign up for more information and we’ll be in touch.

Apply now for online pre-college courses

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Frequently Asked Questions

How will you be graded? What are assignments like? How much time do you get to turn around a project? When do you find out if you're accepted?

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Undergraduate Admissions

To learn more about applying to the University of Rochester for your undergraduate studies, visit the Undergraduate Admissions page.

Learn More About Undergraduate Admissions


We offer need-based scholarships in each cohort to students exhibiting high potential who need assistance affording the associated cost. If you would like to be considered for a scholarship but you:

The University reserves the right to modify the course as may become necessary.