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The Best Video Game Design Schools in Canada

video game schools

This guide is your one-stop shop for navigating the exciting world of Canada’s video game schools. We’ll profile some of the country’s top institutions and equip you with a handy “cheat sheet” to help you choose a program with confidence. 

Full disclosure: I work for Toronto Film School but am in no way involved in the day-to-day running of the programs.  

What Does a Video Game Designer do? 

A Video Game Designer conceives the concept of a video game, along with the themes, characters, objectives, levels, settings, and plots. They will work with a Game Developer, who will oversee the planning and development of the game through coding and asset creation.  

Video Game Designers need to collaborate with team members that may include (depending on the size of the gaming studio) an external client, project manager, video game developer, video game programmer, modeler, artist, animator, AI programmer, and more.  

For a list of defined roles in the video game industry, check here 

How Many Video Game Companies Are There in Canada? 

According to the Entertainment Software Association of Canada’s (ESAC) latest industry report, there are 937 video game development companies in Canada.

Woman in forefront of shot, working on computer designing video game. Co-worker can be seen in background, also working on a game.
Look for a video game design program that also teaches you how the gaming industry works.

 

Become an Insider

Which Province Is Home to the Most Video Game Companies? 

According to ESAC’s report (above), Ontario has more video game companies, at 298, than any other province or territory. Many indie video game studios have chosen to locate their companies in Toronto, and larger international studios have also established offices heresuch as Ubisoft, Zynga, and Glu 

 

What Are the Best Video Game Design Schools in Canada? 

In no order, we have listed 5 video game design schools that may meet your needs.  

Sheridan College | Oakville, Ontario 

Sheridan College offers two programs in video game design:   

  • Game Level Design | Certificate Program (one year) 

Students are taught both 2D and 3D game design, along with game development, story and scripting, cinematography and sound, multi-player systems, game documentation and play testing. Student work will focus on case studies and in their final semester they’ll work with graduate level programmers on a capstone project to develop a video game.  

  • Honours Bachelor of Game Design | Degree Program (four years) 

This program offers a more intense curriculum than the certificate program. Students will study game design and mechanics, level design, programming and technology, game narrative and audio, 2D and 3D art and animation, and project management. There will also be case studies, simulations, and lab projects. In the final semester, students will work with a team to develop a video game.  

Each program has only one term start per yearin September. Classes are held entirely on campus.  

As of this writing, CourseCompare has given Sheridan a 4.5 rating based on external reviews. 

 

CG Spectrum & CG Spectrum Institute | Online only 

There are two CG Spectrum schools, CG Spectrum and the CG Spectrum Institute. We will highlight the differences here: 

  • CG Spectrum provides certificate courses in gaming essentials and foundations that are 3 or 9 months in duration. One can choose from small online class sizes (no more than 4 people) or there’s a 1:1 option (for an additional fee). In either case, students will be learning through a mix of recorded sessions and critiques, and some live online time with an assigned mentor.  

The workshops, which are two weeks in duration, cover Drawing Basics, Human Head Anatomy Basics, Gesture Drawing, and 3D Basics.  

  • The CG Spectrum Institute (CGSI) offers a seven-month diploma program or a two-year intensive degree program in Game Development. Students must choose a specializationeither game design or game programming. Both options will start out with an industry overview alongside gaming concepts and foundations.  The degree program courses go deeper, for instance offering courses on lighting and cinematography and more specific courses relevant to the chosen specialization. CGSI does not offer 1:1 classes.  

The CG Spectrum Institute has three term starts per year, and there is a part-time study option available. CG Spectrum offers their courses and workshops throughout the year. Both programs are online only. 

Both schools are headquartered in Australia. Although CourseCompare does not list CG Spectrum in its rankings, TrustPilot gives the school a 4.6 rating based on external reviews. Currently, there are no online review pages for the CG Spectrum Institute.  

Candore College | North Bay, Ontario  

Candore College provides a 3-year Game Design and Development Diploma Program. Students will learn design, programming, algorithms, the role of artificial intelligence, and how to create game art. They will learn to problem solve and come to understand how art, design and technology all come together to deliver an exciting interactive experience. 

The program has three term starts per year. Programs are delivered in a hybrid format; some online (through remote synchronous delivery) and some on campus.  

As of this writing, CourseCompare has given Candore a 4.8 rating based on external reviews. 

Vancouver Film School (VFS) | Vancouver, British Columbia  

Vancouver Film School offers a 12-month diploma in Game Design. Students will learn the fundamentals in game creation in addition to coding, game art, level designing, and more. Towards the end of the program, students will conceive, plan, create, test, and deliver a final interactive project.  

During their time at VFS, Students will develop a professional online portfolio of work and create a network of contacts that include students and industry professionals.  

The program has four term starts per year, and all courses are held on campus. VFS does offer two online certificate programs, one in Game Design Fundamentals and the other in Unreal Engine.   

As of this writing, CourseCompare has given Vancouver Film School a 4.15 rating based on external reviews. 

Toronto Film School (TFS) | Toronto, Ontario 

Toronto Film School is located in the heart of Canada’s largest city and business capital, Toronto. The school offers a dynamic learning environment for aspiring video game designers, as students can fuel their gaming passions through their choice of two diploma programs: 

Students will be taught the entire game production pipeline, from concept through to completion. They will learn 3D modeling, scripting, design, animation, and motion capture technology through hands-on training. This program equips students with the skills to create stunning visuals and breathe life into their game ideas while building up a demo reel of work that showcases their new abilities. 

Students will be immersed in a simulated studio environment, designing and programming games for consoles, PCs, and mobile platforms. A choice program for those who want a deeper understanding of the entire game development process including programming logic, cross platform programming, physics, game testing and debugging, and more. Students graduate with a portfolio showcasing their new skills, ready to impress employers or gaming studios with their work. 

Both programs offer students exclusive opportunities to meet industry professionals through workshops or speaking events. Students will also learn the business of industry, including budgeting, marketing and how to run their own gaming studio.  

TFS provides a Career Services Centre to help students find jobs in the gaming industry. 

Students will graduate industry ready, with a dedicated support system and the skills necessary to thrive in their new careers. 

Both Toronto Film School video game programs have four term starts per year; they are a mix of on-campus and online (synchronous) learning.  

As of this writing, CourseCompare has given Toronto Film School a 4.6 rating based on external reviews

 

What Should I Look for in a Video Game Design Program? (The Cheat Sheet) 

Do you dream of creating epic games? Choosing the right video game design school is crucial. This cheat sheet equips you with the key factors to consider during your research. 

  • Faculty Firepower: Are instructors seasoned game creators actively working in the industry, or just teachers with a past life in gaming? 
  • Industry Access: Does the school connect you with industry professionals through events or guest lectures? 
  • Curriculum: Dive deep into the course listings. Will the program equip you with the skills to launch your own studio after graduation? 
  • Program Fit: Consider program length and ask yourself: can you commit the time required for classes and projects? 
  • Business Savvy: Look for a school that goes beyond design, offering a solid foundation in the business aspects of gaming. 
  • Career Catalyst: Does the school have a dedicated career services centre to help you land that dream job? Can you access their services, even after graduation? 
  • Location, Location, Location: Can you handle the commute? Factor in travel time, especially during peak hours if you’re considering an on-campus program. 
  • Budgeting for Success: Carefully assess tuition costs to ensure they align with your financial plan. 
  • Reviews Reveal Reality: Read online reviews from students and graduates to gain valuable insights about the school and your program of interest. 

Use this cheat sheet to navigate your video game design school search and find the perfect program to launch your gaming career! 

Person at desk testing a video game.
Game tester in studio testing video game in advance of public release.

 

Final Thoughts on Finding the Right Video Game Design Program 

After narrowing your choices to a few schools, consider scheduling campus visits. It’s your chance to experience the school firsthand and assess: 

  • School Spirit: Immerse yourself in the campus culture. Is it energetic and collaborative, or something else entirely? 
  • Safety First: Feel comfortable and secure by getting a sense of the school’s safety measures. 
  • Resources: Explore the facilities and resources available to students. 
  • Class Act: If possible, sit in on a class to witness the teaching style and student interaction. 
  • Student Buzz: Chat with current students in common areas. Get their honest opinions on the program and student life. 

A campus visit paints a vivid picture of what your student experience could be like; imagine yourself walking the halls, attending classes, and interacting with the community. 

Good luck! 

Garry Murdock
Born in Montreal, Garry Murdock is the marketing copywriter for Toronto Film School. He got his start in television production at YTV, and then later worked as a promo producer and commercial director for a number of television networks. He was the supervising producer of Cineplex’s national in-theatre pre-show, providing creative direction and leadership on over 600 produced segments, and directed on-location interviews around the world with Hollywood celebrities such as Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise, Ben Affleck, Chris Evans, Kermit, Miss Piggy and many more. He has a bachelor’s degree in Radio and Television Arts from Toronto Metropolitan University and a certificate in Digital Marketing Management from the University of Toronto.

Garry Murdock

Born in Montreal, Garry Murdock is the marketing copywriter for Toronto Film School. He got his start in television production at YTV, and then later worked as a promo producer and commercial director for a number of television networks. He was the supervising producer of Cineplex’s national in-theatre pre-show, providing creative direction and leadership on over 600 produced segments, and directed on-location interviews around the world with Hollywood celebrities such as Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise, Ben Affleck, Chris Evans, Kermit, Miss Piggy and many more. He has a bachelor’s degree in Radio and Television Arts from Toronto Metropolitan University and a certificate in Digital Marketing Management from the University of Toronto.

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