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Students in the Game Lab develop games: a student writes on a board and other students work at a table covered in game pieces.

Create Games for Change

The MFA in Games and Interactive Media will help you create bridges and make change through the power of active engagement through games. This terminal degree can be completed in as little as 2 years and will offer you the qualifications to teach at the university level. Beyond traditional game design and development, students will learn to tailor play design to meet specific goals in player impact, focusing on both theory and practice. The program stretches the students' capacities as designers, developers and administrators and prepares them to take on a variety of creative leadership and instructional roles.

Students who graduate from the program will be poised for a variety of roles in the creative economy, including instruction and creative leadership. Whether your passion is digital game design, physical computing, virtual reality, analog games, new media art or something else, our MFA lets you develop the skills to create great games.

Consistently ranked as one of the best cities for job seekers, Washington, DC, offers game design master’s students unparalleled access to private and public sector opportunities. 

Take advantage of institutional relationships with government agencies, locally based companies, and not-for-profits alike. Clients you may contract with include the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM), and WAMU 88.5.  

Connect through renowned DC-held events, such as Indie Arcade at the Smithsonian Museum, Global Game Jam, MAGfestGames+, and more. 

Whether your next career step is local or global, you’ll gain the skills and network you need to succeed.

Program Director Lindsay Grace is an internationally exhibited game artist and designer whose Critical Gameplay collection has been exhibited in Asia, Europe, North and South America. Together, with a team of impressive faculty, he is leading AU's Game Lab to a superlative position in persuasive play and public purpose games.

The MFA brings together faculty from the game lab and the award winning artists, filmmakers, and leaders in the film & media arts division. Students can take graduate courses across the institution, working with creative people in every corner of American University. Class and studio time is spent with internationally award winning faculty, who not only study a wide array of media — they practice it.

With a 4:1 full-time student to faculty ratio, Game Lab students benefit from one-on-one interaction with world-renowned faculty. From working with Game Studio clients to performing scholarly research, students are able to learn from, and work side-by-side with faculty.

With more than $60 billion in annual revenue, the game industry is bigger than Hollywood and almost surpasses the music industry.

The industry is constantly growing and shifting in different directions. Here are some quick facts about the gaming industry you might not know about:

  • At least 155 million Americans play video games!
  • The video game industry made 2.5 billion dollars in revenue in 2015.
  • There is a projected 30% increase in employment for game designed careers for 2018.
  • 23 game companies call the Washington, DC area home
Sample headline from the Factitious game: China Assigns Every Citizen A Social Credit Score to Identify Who Is and Is Not Trustworthy. Buttons let player vote true or false.

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Teachers Find Fake News Fighting Game Useful in the Classroom

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AU Game Lab Student Brings Avatars to Life for ETS

It's really about freedom and critical thinking.

During the summer of 2017, MA in Game Design student Kirby Cofino interned with the DIAMONDS research group in the San Francisco office of Educational Testing Service (ETS) on a speech system called HALEF, a "multimodal dialogue system." It's a computer program that allows a person to talk to a computer, and the computer responds. Cofino’s role in the development of HALEF was to create 3D virtual human avatars that synced up with the computer’s responses.

50 percent of Game Design students work with corporate, NGO and government partners

The AU Game Lab has a 4 to 1 Student-Faculty ratio

Frequently Asked Questions

There is no typical Game Lab student! Students bring their unique backgrounds and passions to the program, having addressed diverse topics such as mental health, social justice, journalism, politics, money management, and advertising. The program can lend itself to your particular area of interest.

You do not need to have a background in coding to become a Game Lab student, just a love for games and the desire to learn.

Review the comparison chart below of our different degree offerings.

Comparison chart to explain the differences in related master's programs to Game Design. This includes MA in the Game Design, MFA in Games and Interactive Media, MFA in Film & Electronic Media, MS in Computer Science, and the Certificate in Game Design.
Program Degree Format Offered Start Date Duration Credit Hours

Game Design

MA

Weekday

Full/Part-Time

August or January

2 Years

36

Games and Interactive Media

MFA

Weekday

Full/Part-Time

Early August

2-3 Years

54

Film & Electronic Media

MFA

Weekday

Full/Part-Time

Early August

2-3 Years

54

Computer Science

MS

Weekday

Full/Part-Time

August or January

2 Years

30

Game Design

Certificate

Weekday

Part-Time Only

August or January

1 Year

15

Still have questions? Send us an email: GradComm@american.edu