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Computer Game Science

The Computer Game Science (CGS) major combines a solid foundation in computer science with a focus on designing, building, and understanding computer games and other forms of interactive media. The fundamentals of information and computer science — along with coursework in mathematics, statistics, physics, and film and media studies — provide students with the concepts and tools to study a wide scope of computer game technologies.

CGS emphasizes design, teamwork, and the understanding of computer games and related technologies and media in a social and cultural context. The term “computer game” includes games that run on cell phones, mobile devices, PCs, consoles, Macs, web pages and even inside automobiles. CGS majors design and create games for entertainment, and also for education, training and social change.

The study of computer games is an emerging field driven by advancing computer hardware and software technology, the widespread popularity of video games as an entertainment medium, and by the interest of artists, economists, educators, scientists and many others to use game technologies for communication, visualization, computation and learning.


CGS is ideal for anyone interested in learning the technical components of creating games — computer programming, graphics, network design, database management, artificial intelligence and much more — and working in teams to design and implement exciting new games. If you are primarily interested in the art or management sides of creating games, the CGS major may not be the best fit for you.

Students who major in Computer Game Science will:

  • acquire a solid foundation in computer science and software development;
  • learn how to create interactive and human-centered computer game designs;
  • employ an interdisciplinary approach to computer game design and development, drawing on coursework in modeling and design, graphics, software engineering, hardware architectures, AI, algorithms, distributed systems, human interfaces and aesthetics;
  • be able to analyze and discuss computer game systems as communication, teaching and entertainment media that can be a force for education, social change and activism;
  • graduate with an extensive portfolio of implemented games.


Several factors contribute to the strength of UC Irvine’s Computer Game Science program, including:

  • Overall excellence. Ranked 28th nationally by U.S. News and World Report, computer science education at UCI is broad, deep and cutting-edge.
  • Location. Irvine and Orange County are home to a remarkable concentration of game development studios large and small, including industry giant Blizzard Entertainment. We consulted with these companies (many of which employ or were founded by UCI alumni) while planning the CGS major, and they look forward to offering internships and jobs to our students.
  • Collaboration. We partner with nearby Laguna College of Art and Design, which offers a Game Art major. Their student artists work with our CGS students to develop innovative, visually engaging games.


The CGS major combines the fundamentals of computer science with about a dozen game-focused courses. Requirements for this major are listed below.


  • Six courses in introductory computer science, programming and software engineering
  • Six courses in calculus, computer science-oriented mathematics and statistics
  • Introduction to physics
  • Three courses in game analysis, design and programming
  • Introduction to film and visual analysis (from the Film and Media Studies Department)


  • Six courses in computer game science, including graphics processor design, game engine lab and multiplayer game systems
  • Eight courses, drawn from computer science, informatics, business management, cognitive science, mathematics, and film and media studies
  • A two-quarter capstone project course

A suggested four-year academic plan is available below. This is just one example; students may complete these courses in any manner that is consistent with the prerequisites and the actual offerings each year.

Sample Program of Study for CGS Majors

ICS 21 Intro CS 1
ICS 60 CG and Society
Math 2A Calculus 1
ICS 22 Intro CS 2
ICS 61 Game Sys & Design
Math 2B Calculus 2
Writing 39B
ICS 23 Data Structures
ICS 62 Game Technologies
ICS 6B Boolean Algebra
Writing 39C
ICS 65 C++
Math 6G Linear Algebra
ICS 51 Computer Org.
Physics 3A
ICS 6D Discrete Math
ICS 160 Graphic Proc. & Game Platforms
CS 112 Comp. Graphics
ICS 52 Software Engineering
ICS 161 Game Engine Lab
Stats 67
One of: ICS 162, ICS 163, ICS 166
CS 171 Artificial Intellig.
F&M 85A Visual Media
CGS Elective
ICS 167 MultiPlayer Systems
One of: CS 122A, Inf 113, Inf 131
Upper Div Writing
ICS 168 MultiPlayer Project
CGS Elective
CGS Elective
One of: ICS 162, ICS 163, ICS 166
CGS Elective
ICS 169A Capstone Project
CGS Elective
ICS 169B Capstone Project



A wide variety of careers and graduate programs are open to Computer Game Science graduates. The video game industry is comparable in size to the film and music industries, and job growth projections are excellent for people with strong technical backgrounds. Many other fields, including mobile software development, interactive entertainment, and training and education software, have demand for similar skill sets and knowledge. CGS graduates are well trained in computer science, and can thus pursue graduate programs or any career that involves designing, implementing, evaluating or interacting with computer-based systems.


  • Bren School Honors Program. Allows juniors and seniors enrolled in Bren School major (Biomedical Computing, Business Information Management, Computer Game Science, Computer Science, Computer Science and Engineering, Informatics, Information and Computer Science, or Software Engineering) to pursue advanced work in one of many research areas. Students who join the program participate in an honors seminar, conduct independent research under the guidance of a faculty member, and write a research paper. Click here for more information about eligibility criteria and benefits of successful completion of the honors program.
  • Independent Research Opportunities. The Bren School encourages all majors to take advantage of this valuable experience, and faculty advertise many research opportunities every year. Students also are encouraged to participate in the campus Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, which offers guidance and grant funding for student-proposed independent research, and sponsors programs that provide summer stipends for students working on faculty-guided research.
  • Campuswide Honors Program. Available to selected high-achieving students from all academic majors, from their freshman through senior years. For more information see the CHP website.
  • Education Abroad Program. Upper-division students have the opportunity to experience different cultures while making progress toward degree objectives through the EAP, an overseas study program that operates in cooperation with host universities and colleges throughout the world.


Prospective and current UCI students interested in learning more about the Bren School’s degree options are encouraged to meet with the school’s associate dean of student affairs, counselors and student ambassadors. They will help you determine which of our majors and minors best support your academic strengths and interests. Call our Student Affairs Office at 949-824-5156 to make an appointment or to inquire about campus visit opportunities.

(Note: Appointments are made by phone only, not by email request.)

Bren School Student Affairs Office
Information and Computer Science Building I, Suite 352
Irvine, CA 92697-3430

Computer Game Science Open House Associate Professor Crista Lopes at the Computer Game Science Open House demonstrates her 3D simulation of a podcar system.

In the News

UCI students build games in a week
The Orange County Register features Game Jam, a popular competition sponsored by the UCI Video Game Development Club. Visit the Bren School YouTube channel to view a wrap-up of the spring 2011 contest.
UC Irvine’s new computer games major gets its game on
The OC Weekly publishes a six-page spread about the Bren School’s newest undergraduate major.
UC Irvine takes video games to the next level
The Los Angeles Times previews CGS before its launch in Fall 2010.
Meet the CGS mascot (mentioned in the LA Times article above), a character from the game Colossal Crisis, developed by UCI undergraduates James Dalby, Fritzie Mercado, Edward Fleischman and Quin Kennedy. The city is under attack by Godzilla, and the professor assigns multiple clones of our hero to collect equipment needed to fight back. Catch the demo video on YouTube.
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