If you want to develop your voice as creators of expressive games and want to be able to harness the power of this interactive medium for social, cultural or artistic impact; this programme is for you. Games have the potential to capture, illuminate and enrich the human experience in their unique way. Through hands-on game design projects you can explore how to facilitate experiences that are meaningful, thought-provoking and transformative.
You will study at Uppsala University's Campus Gotland, located in Visby on the Baltic island of Gotland, Sweden - the best-preserved medieval city in Scandinavia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Campus Gotland's educational environment is characterised by the close proximity between professors and students.
Why this programme?
Games have become the most important and influential cultural medium of the 21st century. They have found application areas within and beyond the entertainment sector, have become an intrinsic part of a wide range of research fields and have been harnessed to address social and personal issues. They have conquered digital, non-digital and hybrid play-spaces from living room screens to cell phones to alternate realities, urban spaces, hospitals, schools, therapists' offices and homes for the elderly.
Game Design is a young discipline, and increasing numbers of higher education providers, both in Sweden and internationally, are establishing it as an area of study.
In the Master's Programme in Game Design at Uppsala University, you will combine theory and practice to push the boundaries of what games and their players can be. You will learn how to make games that are different, and that make a difference in the world. The focus is not merely on designing experiences that are fun or engaging, but experiences that cause players to see the world and themselves with fresh eyes - that provoke reflection, insight and action beyond the gameplay itself.
Good books and movies plant seeds in us - seeds that help us grow as people. Games can do that, too. This is not about making "serious games": this is about making awesome games, deep games - games that have something to say and say it well. It is about games that invite players into evocative and emotionally-rich possibility spaces that can lead to self-inquiry, insight, reflection and change.
As such, our students - who do not need to have previous game development or programming experience - are exposed to a wide range of theories and ideas to aid in the development of their own views. As a student in the programme, you will learn to think holistically, broadly and deeply, because creating inspiring experiences for others, starts with developing one's own perspectives
The skills and knowledge gained in this programme can be applied to all areas of game design. Beyond that, they open career paths in academia and industry and can greatly contribute to all areas and professions that require effective, compelling communication, leadership and problem-solving skills.
If you already have an undergraduate degree in Game Design, the Master's programme offers opportunities to develop your creative, reflective practice and push the boundaries of games as an expressive medium. Design research can establish connections to other departments at Uppsala University and beyond. This will enrich game design practice with theoretical approaches from other fields of study, e.g. psychology, sociology, linguistics, health and philosophy.
The programme leads to a Master of Arts (120 credits) with Game Design as the main field of study. After one year of study, it is also possible to obtain a Master of Arts (60 credits).
What programme are you currently enrolled in?
Emilie: We are currently enrolled in the Master's Programme in Game Design
What made you choose this programme and specialisation?
Emilie: Over the last couple of years my interest in both game research, game studies and game research has increased, so the choice to enroll for this programme was driven by my further growing interest of those topics.
Amr: As a game developer, I've always wanted to improve my game design skills and broaden my knowledge in the Game Design part in making Videogames.
What made you choose Uppsala University?
Emelie: The Institution of Game which is located at Campus Gotland is located in Visby where I already live, as well as the previous reputation of the bachelors programme gave me the confidence to pick Uppsala Univesity.
Amr: After some research, I've found that Uppsala University is one of the top universities that provide studies in Game Development and Design, so it was a natural choice.
What are the best things about your programme?
Emelie: This far, the Course Material and lectures have been fantastic.
Amr: It develops your thinking in different aspects in game design, and puts you on the right road.
Describe how an average day looks for you
Emelie: A pretty standard 9-5 schedule for me, I get up and prep for class, starting work at around 9 AM or 10 AM. Then I get ready for classes which start at 1 after lunch. Following class, I wrap up any reading I still got left for the next lesson and then I enjoy the Visby Free time activities like climbing and gaming cafés.
Amr: Usually the lectures start later at 1pm, so I either have enough time for sleep, or breakfast or workout, and then to the lecture/s, never boring, it usually ends at 3pm, later on, I usually get home to prepare dinner, then either read any assigned readings for the next lecture, or hang out with friends, or party if its a week-end, it won't get boring on the island if you know what to do.
How would you describe the atmosphere in class and on campus?
Emelie: The Atmosphere in class is great, we’ve gotten to build a very talkative and close build group during lectures which also stretches outside of class. The Campus area is great and there is almost always space to work while not being disturbed.
Amr: The atmosphere in class is usually interactive and goes both ways, lecturers keep opening up discussions, the campus is great to be in before or after classes.
What do you hope to do after you graduate?
Emelie: Move on to a PhD or keep doing game design/research consultancies in the mean time.
Amr: I would either try to find a job as a game design, or start my own start-up with fellow designers/developers.
What advice do you have for other students interested in applying for the same programme?
Emelie: There will be a lot of reading of academic texts, the better your English is the easier it is to take the material to heart.
Amr: Reading about game design research in general, and get ready to read scientific papers about game design.
The programme comprises two years of full-time study. Semesters one, two and four contain compulsory courses in game design. After one year of study, it is also possible to obtain a Master of Arts, One Year, 60 credits by selecting the project thesis course for 15 credits.
The first semester consists of an introductory course containing a review of current research and development work in game design. This course includes theory and method as well as scientific writing, which prepares you for the degree project that you will write in semester four. In addition, the first semester contains courses in game analysis, presenting different methods of analysing games and their mechanics, structures and composition.
The second semester contains a course in game testing with an in-depth review of various ways of testing games, and a course on games and society, which deals with how games reflect their contemporary context. Further, there is a course in Pervasive Games, i.e. games that are played in the physical world as well as in the game world in such a way that public space becomes part of the game. The semester concludes with a course about game prototypes for research purposes, where you are given the opportunity to combine the theoretical and practical knowledge you have acquired during the programme.
In semester three you are able to choose courses - at first or second-cycle level - within or outside the department. Another option is to participate in international student exchange within the framework of the university's or the department's exchange agreements. During this semester, the department offers courses in experimental game design and in various forms of storytelling.
The whole of the fourth semester is devoted to writing the degree project, 30 credits. This thesis project work is dedicated to an in-depth exploration of a topic relevant to game design. The thesis must be based on solid, theoretical research, have a clear problem statement and be conducted in a methodologically sound, rigorous and ethical way. The Master's thesis project must include an application of theory to practice, where students are expected to create a game and critically reflect on their intent, process and design outcomes.
Courses within the programme
See the outline for courses within programme.
As befits a game design degree, instruction emphasizes hands-on game design workshops, project work (both in groups and individually), and design critiques through instructors and peers. New concepts and theories are introduced through poignant lectures and wherever appropriate applied to practice.
You are expected to show initiative and work independently outside the classroom to hone your design skills and develop your identity and voice as a creator and game design researcher. You will be asked to familiarize yourself within and beyond the classroom with a range of game design relevant theories and methods and to articulate your newfound knowledge in written and oral reports.
Students graduating from the programme will be equipped to shape the future of the medium and push the boundaries of its expressive potential in a variety of domains. You may choose to join or start a game studio to pursue the commercial application of your work. You could continue on an academic path, pursuing a PhD in a related field, within Human Computer Interaction or any other field for which you fulfil the entry requirements.
Depending on your area of interest, graduating students may also put their newly acquired skills and perspectives to work in the fields of health, education, government, and community activism, where games are being used more and more for purposes beyond entertainment. Graduates could also find themselves engaged in the art community, working with experimental design firms, or curating and developing museum and exhibition programs.
Requirements: Academic requirements A Bachelor's degree, equivalent to a Swedish Kandidatexamen, from an internationally recognised university.
Language requirements All applicants need to verify English language proficiency that corresponds to English studies at upper secondary (high school) level in Sweden ("English 6"). This can be done in a number of ways, including through an internationally recognised test such as TOEFL or IELTS, or through previous upper secondary (high school) or university studies. The minimum test scores are:
IELTS: an overall mark of 6.5 and no section below 5.5
TOEFL: Paper-based: Score of 4.5 (scale 1–6) in written test and a total score of 575. Internet-based: Score of 20 (scale 0–30) in written test and a total score of 90
a total appraisal of quantity and quality of previous university studies;
a statement of purpose (1 page); and
a digital portfolio of 1–5 items.
The statement of purpose should include artistic/academic goals and reasons for applying to the MA. Students are encouraged to be specific, vivid and focused, taking the programme description into account and connecting their own creative work and/or background to the nature of the programme as described in the programme description.
The digital portfolio may include examples in a variety of media as well as writing samples. Examples of portfolio items:
Series of digital prototypes or games demonstrating the applicant's breadth and depth of work in the field. lnclude download links, installation and gameplay instructions.
Board game or physical game. lnclude detailed documentation including video and photographs of gameplay as well as rules.
Game design document
Performance or event. lnclude documentation of project including video, photographs, and script.
Writing samples such as a scholarly article, essay, or creative writing
Creative practice in a professional field (animation, video, film, applications, graphic design, etc.).
Tuition fee-paying students and non-paying students are admitted on the same grounds but in different selection groups.
If you are not a citizen of a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) country, or Switzerland, you are required to pay application and tuition fees. Fees cover application and tuition only and do not cover accommodation, academic literature or the general cost of living. Read more about fees.
The Student Portal provides logged-on students access to course and programme pages, study results, e-transcripts, information from the student unions, file area, webmail, and more. In order to log on, you must have applied for a student account. The course and programme pages in the Student Portal can be seen without being logged on here. The pages contain basic information plus those features that the department has chosen to make accessible.