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Welcome to Art & Design: Games and Playable Media

Announcing the inauguration of a new department at UCSC: The Department of Performance, Play & Design! This new department is formed from the fusion of two existing units: the Department of Theater Arts and the Art and Design: Games & Playable Media Program. 

These two programs have come together to better serve students who are seeking not only advanced training in traditional theater and game design but also those who are interested in the areas where these two disciplines intersect: the vibrant and dynamic worlds of multimedia and multiplatform performanceinteractive installationsocial media content, and interactive narrative design! Join us as we step into the future with a broad-based understanding of performance in both the live and the digital universes!

Games are an influential form of art. Game Design blends creativity, technology and personal expression. Curious, insightful, emotional, political, games are a growing and global phenomenon.

AGPM Community Values Statement:

As a community we are committed to equity, inclusion, social & environmental justice. As an intersectional feminist program we recognize this is a process that must be grounded in shared leadership & radical gentleness. 
In our work as students, faculty and staff we embody the values of honesty, kindness and critical thinking while maintaining a nurturing environment with a specific focus on health and wellbeing, critical consciousness and growth. 
We are committed to sustaining a program that is pro-LGBTQ+, anti-racist and anti-oppression. This work requires a proactive approach to sustainability and accountability, and ultimately relies on our shared experience and solidarity.

Art practice is a process of communication that promotes introspection, encourages innovation and gives rise to change. Together, these two disciplines help shape the future of our increasingly digital and connected world.  

The Art & Design: Games & Playable Media BA is a highly collaborative and uniquely interdisciplinary degree, designed to give students a strong foundation in both Art and Technology. It offers them the tools to find their own voice, the space to explore new ideas, and the skills to bring their creative visions to life. Read more about our curriculum, outstanding faculty and students, our activities across campus - and beyond!


Year One: Foundations

Students begin the program by being introduced to a variety of game design methodologies. Grounded in the idea that games produce valuable meaning through their mechanics, this year also includes introductory fine art and programming courses. Students learn about how games work as systems, how to critique existing games from that perspective, as well as how to design new experiences from scratch.


Year Two: Mediums & Construction

As students move through their second year and declare the major, they explore the history of games design and visual culture and continue studies in fine art. They learn now to create a digital game of their own, working across Art and Engineering disciplines. This teaches them how digital games are constructed at the level of code, and how the style and construction of game art influences the final game experience.


Year Three: Mission & Message

During year three, students begin to focus on the meaning of their work within the larger picture of art, technology, and entertainment experiences. What inspires them to create? What do they want to say with the things they make? Advanced upper division courses investigate how they can build unique, rich and personally meaningful experiences, and share them with the broader campus through programmed playtests, divisional events and exhibitions.


Year Four: Final Project

In their capstone year, all senior students from the BA and BS collaborate in small groups on a 3-quarter digital games project. This showcases their foundational understanding of game design, construction skills, and unique contributions to the final playable game. Alongside this work, they develop portfolios, apply for internships, festivals and graduate programs based on the path they’ve chosen.