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Frequently Asked Questions

Q) What is the difference between the BA and BS in Games & Playable Media?

The Art & Design: Games & Playable Media (AGPM) BA program focuses on Art & Design for games, while giving students a solid foundation in the fundamentals of computer game creation. It has Math and Computer Programming requirements, but the majority of the coursework is in Art and Game Design. The Computer Science: Computer Game Design BS is focused on Programming for Games, and gives students a much more extensive education in Computer Science. 

Q) What is difference between the Art & Design: Games & Playble Media BA and the Studio Art BA?

The AGPM BA is focused on giving students the experience of playing, designing, and creating digital and non digital games. The Art BA program provides students with both the technical skills and the critical skills necessary to develop meaningful art and design projects in print media, photography, animation, video, new media, sculpture, public art, environmental art, social practice, drawing and painting. 

Q) Is there a minor in the Art & Design: Games & Playble Media BA or Computer Science: Compter Game Design BS?

Not at this time.

Q) How do I declare this major?

1. Complete the four Major Qualification courses with a grade of C or better:

  • ARTG 80H - History of Digital Games
  • ARTG 80I - Foundations of Play
  • CMPM 80K - Foundations of Video Game Design
  • CMPS 12B/M - Introduction to Data Structures/Laboratory 

2. Then complete and sign the major declaration petition form and email it to the AGPM Undergraduate Adviser,

*If you have received two or more grades below C in the Major Qualification courses listed above, you must declare via portfolio appeal. See FAQ below

If you need an extension of your Expected Graduation Term (EGT) to complete the major contact the AGPM Undergraduate Adviser for details on additional steps.
General information on major declaration is available on the Undergraduate Advising Website. More details on our major qualification policy is available in our Program Statement.

Q) How do I declare this major via portfolio appeal?

If you have received two or more grades below C in the Major Qualification courses:

1. Repeat the four Major Qualification courses as needed to pass each with a grade of C or better.
2. Submit a written statment, link to online portfolio, and completed and signed major declaration petition form via email to the AGPM Undergraduate Adviser.

The written statement should answer the following questions:

  • Why do you want to pursue this major, specifically?
  • What kinds of games have inspired you?
  • What kinds of games do you wish to make?
  • How does your work demonstrate this intent?

The online portfolio may include:

  • Completed games (digital or non-digital) that can be experienced directly
  • Prototypes (paper or digital) that demonstrate knowledge of how games are constructed and how game designs work
  • Storyboards that communicate a narrative or user experience flow
  • Samples of fine art drawing and painting of characters, environments and objects for game design ideas

The objective of the review is to admit students who demonstrate, as evidenced in their portfolio and statement, that their intentions and achievements are most compatible with the mission, standards, goals, and specializations of the AGPM B.A. The faculty is looking for vitality, commitment, resilience and skill, or signs of potential for the development of these things.
Remaining courses and concerns about time to degree are also taken into consideration.
Within 15 days of this review, the faculty will notify the students, the Arts Division, college and Office of the Registrar of their decision.

Q) How do I enroll / petition for an individual (independent) studies course?

To enroll/petition for an individual studies course, you will first need to fill out the form linked here. You will be emailed a copy of your completed form. Send the completed form to your Faculty Sponsor asking for their email confirmation, and CC the AGPM undergrad adviser. Once your Faculty Sponsor confirms, the adviser will send you the course ID to use for enrollment.

Q) How do I petition a course to count as a substitute for one of my electives?

To petition for a course substitution, you will first need to fill out the form linked here. You will be emailed a copy of your completed form. We will look at your justification and see if the course you are requesting would qualify as a valid substitution. 

Q) What kind of computer should I have for this program?

While we don't have a specific make or model to recommend, here's some general guidance:

  • Programs that you will use the most include the Adobe Design Suite, the Microsoft Office suite, and in some cases Maya and Unity.

  • A lot of the programming is done in a Windows environment.

  • Consider what you're interested in working on - if you're interested in graphics or processor-heavy projects like 3D rendering or building virtual reality games, you may need a more powerful computer and/or graphics card.

  • Some students do a lot of digital drawing and sketching and enjoy having a touch-sensitive or tablet-style monitor.

  • Virtual reality requires a high-end desktop PC meeting Oculus or HTC Vive specs.

Q) What math requirements are necessary to meet for the BA?

One of the requirements for the AGPM major is CMPS 11.  This course has a prerequisite of the following:

      1. CMPS 5J


      2. A math prerequisite that can be satisfied in any of the following ways (only one required): successfully passing Math 3, Math 11A, Math 19A, Applied Math and Statistics 3, Applied Math and Statistics 11A, Economics 11A, or 400 or higher on the math placement exam.

Q) What is Math Placement?

Math Placement (MP) evaluates a student's math preparation and places them into the appropriate math course, and is required to enroll in a math course at UCSC. Math Placement can be determined in one of the following ways:

  1. Complete an assessment.  Students may complete an assessment in ALEKS - an online assessment, learning, and knowledge space - to determine their math placement.  ALEKS also provides math instruction, students can use the learning modules in ALEKS to work towards improving their placement.  Prior to completing an assessment, all students must first review the Assessment Guidelines.

  2. Use calculus test credit.  Students who have entered with AP or IB test credit for calculus may use their test credit to determine their placement, for more information visit Calculus Test Credit.

  3. Transfer math course credit.  Students who have completed a college-level math course may be able to use that course for their math placement, for more information visit Math Course Credit.

Q) How do I determine my Math Placement?

You can determine your Math Placement by completing an assessment at

  • If you have completed a college-level math course, or have scored 3 or better on an AP or IB calculus exam, you may be able to use that for placement instead of the ALEKS assessment.

If you wish to get a jump on math prior to attending UCSC, you can use ASSIST.ORG to find an equivalent math course at a California Community College.  

NOTE: UCSC math placement is not transferable. We do not provide assessment information to other universities as evidence of your math placement. Your placement is only valid for enrollment in UCSC math courses.

Q) When should I take the courses required for my Math requirements?

CMPS 11 is offered in Winter and Spring quarters, so you should have your math requirement completed by the end of either fall or winter so you can take CMPS 11 in Spring of 2016 (your first year).

  • You should complete your assessment by July 31 to get your results by August 4 (before enrollment opens back up to all students.  If your score is high enough to enroll in Math 3, then you should do so.  If classes are full, then you can enroll on the wait list for Math 3 in fall, or in Math 3 in the winter if you are not able to access the class in fall.

  • If your score allows you to take Math 2 but not Math 3, you can enroll in Math 2 for fall (or enroll on the wait list if the class is filled), or keep working with ALEKS  (online assessment tool) to improve your score over the fall quarter so you can be reassessed and, hopefully, qualify for Math 3 in winter

  • If you have passed an AP Calculus AB or BC exam with a score of 3 or higher, and if that score has arrived at UCSC and been posted to your record, then you have already satisfied the math prerequisite for CMPS 11 and do not need to take math unless you are considering other majors that require it.

Q) What math should I take if I am not sure if I want to be in games BA or BS?

If there is a chance that you may want to apply to the BS: Computer Science Game Design major (or any other School of Engineering major in the future), please note that you should NOT pursue the 11A-11B calculus series; the 19A-19B series is required.