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.

New +Live course: This summer, enjoy all the features of our Video Game Design course PLUS live sessions on select weekdays. Choose +Live when you apply to select this option. Find the schedule and more details here.

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Program Dates

 Multiple 2- and 4-week sessions


For students ages 13+


$995 ($1295 for +Live)

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.

Skills you will gain from this course

  • The ability to customize your own templated video game
  • Knowledge of how game design theories allow for Meaningful Play
  • An understanding of the techniques of storytelling
  • How to build actions that align with the rules and narrative elements of the game
  • A working knowledge of how video games evolved from Atari to XBox and Mobile gaming
  • Earn a Certificate of Completion from the University of Rochester

Student engaging in video game design on a computer

2 Ways To Take This Course

Video Game Design Option

This option is fully asynchronous, allowing you to tune in anytime your schedule allows. It features online video lessons by professors and support from expert mentors.

Video Game Design +Live Option

The +Live version of this course features live sessions with industry experts, guest speakers, and mentors in addition to the pre-recorded video lessons by professors, offering peak engagement and interactivity in a structured learning format.

Video Game Design

  • Asynchronous video lessons
  • Certificate of Completion from Rochester
  • Support from mentors
  • -
  • Learn at your own pace

Video Game Design +Live

  • Asynchronous video lessons
  • Certificate of Completion from Rochester
  • Support from mentors
  • Live sessions on select weekdays with experts
  • Learn on a structured schedule

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

July 10 - July 24

Intro to Video Game Design

Length: 2 weeks

Cost: $995

Application Deadline: Sunday, July 3, 2022

July 10 - August 7

Intro to Video Game Design

Length: 4 weeks

Cost: $995

Application Deadline: Sunday, July 3, 2022

July 24 - August 7

Intro to Video Game Design

Length: 2 weeks

Cost: $995

Application Deadline: Sunday, July 17, 2022

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.

Chris | Rochester Video Game Design Course Mentor


B.S. Computer Science from University of Rochester with a focus on game development, music, and linguistics, 2019. Organized and led discussion groups in Professor Joseph Loporcaro's Open Gaming Sessions.

Tara | Rochester Video Game Design Course Mentor


Undergraduate at the University of Rochester working towards an Economics Degree. Video games initially began as a hobby, and she hopes to work towards developing her own games eventually. Presently, a text-based RPG is in the works!

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 working at her 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.

Earn Your Certificate of Completion from the University of Rochester

Apply Now


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.