Art & Design: Games & Playable Media

Introduction

The Bachelor of Arts in Art & Design: Games & Playable Media (AGPM) is an interdisciplinary undergraduate program in the Arts Division at UCSC. The program is closely affiliated with the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science: Computer Game Design in the School of Engineering.

Students in both programs work together throughout their studies at UCSC, from foundation courses to a year-long capstone sequence that results in team creation of a releasable game. Students in AGPM obtain a degree focused on the design of game systems and other interactive experiences, including their connection to a wider arts context — with a full grounding in the fundamentals of artistic practice and expressive game development.

The foundation of the program is game making, with students in both B.A. and B.S. degrees working together to make games each year. Students also learn about the history of games, the interpretation of games and game culture, expression of ideas and creating experiences through games, and approaches to design, communication, teamwork, and artistic innovation.

Degrees Offered

  • B.A.

Study and Research Opportunities

  • B.A.
  • Year-long, team-based game design project
  • The Center for Games and Playable Media. The center houses the school's five games-related research labs, including:  
    • Social Emotional Technology (SET) Lab -  the lab's mission is to design, implement, and study human-computer interaction technologies that enhance physical, social, and emotional experiences.  
    • ASSIST Lab - this lab focuses on helping people with special needs (PSN) maintain a high quality of life through technology. 
  • The Ludo Lab Center for Games & Playable Media Research. The Ludo Lab seeks to approach the issues and opportunities that shape our collective future - including Social and Environmental Justice, Gender Equality, Identity, and Representation.

Information for First-Year Students (Freshmen)

Students interested in entering the program as frosh are urged to make games — using any materials, from Javascript to cardboard — and carefully study game systems. Developing an arts practice in any medium is also helpful, including drawing, writing, music, sculpture, filmmaking, and others. Finally, deepening your understanding of technology is good preparation, including computer programming, participating in maker groups, or whatever else grabs your interest.

Information for Transfers

In preparation for transfer to AGPM, students are required to demonstrate proficiency in programming, visual art, and game design.

See department website for more information.

It is required that incoming transfer students complete all the necessary programming courses and have some experience with art or game design courses prior to entering UCSC. Students interested in entering as junior transfers, including from within UCSC, are urged to complete all general education requirements and as many appropriate foundation courses as possible.

Careers

The AGPM B.A. serves as the sister program to the Computer Science: Computer Game Design (CS:CGD) B.S. major. While the CS:CGD major prepares its students for engineering and developer roles, the AGPM program prepares students for taking an artist, designer, or producer role. Specific job titles/roles are listed below: 

  • 2D / 3D Artist
  • Game Designer
  • Game Programmer
  • Game Writer
  • Producer
  • Sound Designer
  • User Interface (UI) Designer
  • User Experience (UX) Designer

Facilities

  • Digital Arts Research Center (DARC) – A multimedia complex housing extensive digital printmaking/photography facilities, faculty studios, and exhibition/media labs.
  • The AGPM Game Lab is located within the DARC and serves multiple functions. The lab is a modular/dynamic space that can be used as a classroom, coworking space, and prototyping studio. 

Awards, Honors, and Recognitions

UC Santa Cruz is ranked 17th on the list of "Top 50" undergraduate Game Design programs by the Princeton Review.

Alumni Focus

  • Our alumni have gone on to continue their games education through top graduate programs, such as the University of Southern California's Interactive Media & Games program.
  • Those who choose to pursue the industry route have also found success in game studios throughout the country. Pixelberry is one of these studios and is best known for their mobile game Choices, which has close to 1 million users across both the iOS and Android platforms. 

Department Website

More Information

Juan Morales-Rocha
AGPM Adviser
Arts Division Programs Office
Digital Arts Research Center 302
(831) 459-1554
juanmr@ucsc.edu

Robin Hunicke
Associate Professor
AGPM Director
rhunicke@ucsc.edu

University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064