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UC Santa Cruz's Games and Playable Media (GPM) Professional Master's program is an intensive 5-quarter educational and vocational experience that teaches students how to design and develop all types of games, ranging from mobile to Indie to AAA titles. UC Santa Cruz's graduate programs in game development are highly ranked by Princeton Review and others for its expertise in game design and development, and UCSC is #1 in the world for Institutions Active in Technical Games Research.

The GPM curriculum has been crafted to launch a successful career in the games industry. Its critical success factors are strong industry connections and unique approach to Capstone Projects. GPM places upwards of 85% of its graduates into the games industry, and fosters a close alumni network that ranges from artists, to programmers, to producers. If you are looking for a successful career in the games industry, this is the program for you.

Located in the Heart of Silicon Valley

The GPM program is located on the Silicon Valley Campus of UC Santa Cruz, allowing ideal access to the greatest games and technology companies in the world. Over 50 game industry veterans come to the Silicon Valley Campus each year to interact with students on topics ranging from AAA title production to the latest game technologies, providing outstanding professional development advice and opportunity. Past lecturers include John Romero (Romero Games, id Software, and past Creative Director of the program), Greg Johnson (ToeJam & Earl), Kellee Santiago (thatgamecompany), and Eric Williams (God of War).

Students also have access to professional development seminars in other disciplines offered by UC Santa Cruz, such as Serious Games, HCI, and Computational Media.

Designed for Professional Development

The GPM curriculum caters to students that have both technical and non-technical backgrounds and career interests. Required courses include game programming, game design, and game technologies, while electives focus on such disciplines as storytelling and level design.

The cornerstone of the GPM program is the required 3-quarter Capstone Project. Students work in self-selected groups to create a playable game, with roles ranging from producer to artist to technical director. The Capstone Project simulates the game development cycle from concept to pitch to pre-production. Industry veterans are brought in-house at multiple stages to offer tips and tricks to Capstone teams, helping each produce the best game possible.

Upon graduation, students have masterfully crafted playable games to include in portfolios. Some teams will get the opportunity to showcase their titles at game development conferences, such as IndieCade and the Game Developer Conference (GDC). Some continue the production process past graduation, publishing their titles independently. The possibilities of what can be achieved are limited only by each student's imagination.

Accomplished Faculty and Program Advisors

The GPM program's Vice Chair, Michael John (MJ), came to UCSC in 2015 with more than 20 years of industry experience. Prior to joining GPM, MJ enjoyed great success in the video game industry, ranging from design on Spyro the Dragon for the PlayStation game console with Insomniac Games, to serving as Creative Director at Electronic Arts and Game Director at GlassLab.

GPM has access to a host of other esteemed faculty, including Dr. Magy Seif El-Nasr, a renowned expert in game analytics. Magy has published numerous research papers and two books on the topics, and has served as a faculty member at many of the world's leading game institutions. Magy also heads the cutting-edge Game User Interaction and Intelligence (GUII) Lab at UCSC.

Applying to UC Santa Cruz GPM M.S. Program

The UC Santa Cruz Games and Playable Media M.S. program accepts applications to its program from October to mid-January. The range of applicants runs the gamut, from Artists to Computer Scientist, from hardcore gamer to the occasional casual game player. Along with an undergraduate degree and portfolio submission, the only true application requirement is a strong belief that games are instrumental in making the world a better place.

University of California Santa Cruz Games & Playable Media MS Program
Santa Clara, CA
408-919-8938