Degree Available: Major
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.
Is Computer Game Science for me?
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:
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- 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.
Why study at UC Irvine?
Several factors contribute to the strength of UC Irvine’s Computer Game Science program, including:
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- 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.
What courses do I take?
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
Fall Winter Spring Units 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
ICS 23 Data Structures
ICS 62 Game Technologies
ICS 6B Boolean Algebra
ICS 65 C++
Math 6G Linear Algebra
ICS 51 Computer Org.
ICS 6D Discrete Math
ICS 160 Graphic Proc. & Game Platforms
CS 112 Comp. Graphics
ICS 52 Software Engineering
ICS 161 Game Engine Lab
One of: ICS 162, ICS 163, ICS 166
CS 171 Artificial Intellig.
F&M 85A Visual Media
ICS 167 MultiPlayer Systems
One of: CS 122A, Inf 113, Inf 131
Upper Div Writing
ICS 168 MultiPlayer Project
One of: ICS 162, ICS 163, ICS 166
ICS 169A Capstone Project
ICS 169B Capstone Project
What can I do with a degree in CGS?
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.↑Back to top
Special Programs and Learning Opportunities
There are several ways to add depth, scope, and experiential learning to your academic program of study. An academic counselor will help you determine the most efficient way to add another major, minor, or concentration to your academic plan, and will refer you to other campus programs and resources that support your interests and future goals.
- Engineering and Computer Science in the Global Context
All Bren School majors in good standing may propose an academic plan that demonstrates the ability to complete the concentration and other requirements for graduation in a reasonable timeframe.
The globalization of the marketplace for information technology services and products makes it likely that Bren ICS graduates will work in multicultural settings or be employed by companies with extensive international operations, or customer bases. The goal of the concentration is to help students develop and integrate knowledge of the history, language and culture of a country or geographic region outside the United States, through coursework both at UCI and an international host campus, followed by a technology related internship in the host country.Application:
Each student's proposed program of study, specifying coursework and a guided internship experience in a region outside the U.S., must be approved in advance by the Bren School of ICS Associate Dean for Student Affairs. It is expected that each student's proposal will reflect a high degree of planning that includes the guidance of academic counselors and those at the UCI Center for International Education regarding course selection, as well as considerations related to internship opportunities, housing and financial aid. The academic counselors and the Associate Dean will be available to assist qualified students with the development of a satisfactory academic plan, as needed.
- A minimum of eight courses at UCI or at the international campus with an emphasis on the culture, language (if applicable and necessary), history, literature of the country that corresponds to the international portion of the program, international law, international labor policy, global issues, global institutions, global conflict and negotiation and global economics;
- A one or two semester sequence of technical courses related to the major and, possibly, cultural, history, and literature courses taken at an international university;
- A two month or longer technical internship experience in the same country as the international educational experience.
Students inside and outside of the Bren School of ICS may want to pursue a minor, a coordinated set of courses which together take a student well beyond the introductory level in an academic field, subject, and/or discipline. Note: Some minor requirements may be fulfilled by the student’s major requirements. Some major/minor combinations are not allowed.
- Biomedical Computing (10 courses)
- Digital Information Systems (7 courses)
- Informatics (8 courses)
- Information and Computer Science (7 courses)
- Statistics (7 courses)
» OPPORTUNITIES FOR HONORS-LEVEL STUDYStudents who are majoring in Biomedical Computing, Business Information Management, Computer Science, Computer Science and Engineering, and Information and Computer Science, and ICS Undeclared Pre-Majors are invited to apply for admission to the Bren School of ICS's introductory honors sequence (ICS H21/H22/H23). These courses provide a uniquely challenging and intimate learning environment in which conventional course material is explored in greater depth.
A student must meet at least one of the following criteria to be eligible to enroll in ICS H21:
- Minimum 620 on each of 2 of 3 sections of the SAT; or
- Member of the UCI Campuswide Honors Program; or
- Verification of score of 3 or higher on AP Computer Science A exam; or
Eligible students will be provided an authorization code (required) for course enrollment at the time of their summer orientation/registration session.
» BREN SCHOOL OF ICS HONORS PROGRAM
Allows juniors and seniors majoring in Computer Science, Computer Science and Engineering, Informatics, or Information and Computer Science to pursue advanced work in one of many research areas.
Students admitted to the program participate in an honors seminar, conduct independent research under the guidance of a faculty member, and write a research paper.
More information about eligibility criteria and benefits of successful completion of the honors program is available at the Honors program web site.
» INDEPENDENT RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES
The School encourages all majors to take advantage of this valuable experience, and faculty advertise many research opportunities every year.
Students are also encouraged to participate in the campus Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), which offers guidance and grant funding for student-proposed independent research, and sponsors programs which 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 web site.
» EDUCATION ABROAD PROGRAM
Upper-division students have the opportunity to experience different cultures while making progress toward degree objectives through the Education Abroad Program (EAP).
EAP is an overseas study program which operates in cooperation with host universities and colleges throughout the world.
» OTHER PROGRAMS OF INTEREST
- UCI SAGE (Student Achievement Guided by Experience) Scholars Program
- UCI California Teach Initiative
- UCI Washington Academic Internship Program
- UC/DC Internship Program
- UCI Administrative Intern Program
Still not sure?
Prospective and current students interested in learning more about the Bren ICS degree options are encouraged to meet with the Associate Dean, counselors and student ambassadors in the Bren ICS Student Affairs Office.
They will help you determine which of our majors and minors best support your academic strengths and interests.
Bren ICS Student Affairs Office
Information and Computer Science Building I, Suite 352
Irvine, CA 92697-3430
Phone: (949) 824-5156