Do you want to develop a deeper understanding of games as expressive media? Would you like to study the social and cultural effects of games? With its specific emphasis on the impact games have on society, and core academic themes such as ethical game design, meaningmaking, representation, inclusion and social justice, this two-year Master´s Programme in Game Design, prepares you to become a critical and informed voice in the field of games.
You will study at Uppsala University Campus Gotland, located in Visby on the island of Gotland, Sweden.
Why this programme?
In the Master's Programme in Game Design at Uppsala University, Campus Gotland, our emphasis is on teaching active game literacy in order for the students to responsibly use games' expressive and conceptual potential and become aware of their impact on society. Active game literacy means the ability to understand games deeply from a theoretical as well as a practical perspective. It includes being able to analyse existing games, design new play experiences, and gain insight into and awareness of the contexts in which games are created and played. Active game literacy also includes understanding how games can affect their players through their rules, mechanics, themes, narrative and audio-visual design.
In the Master's Programme in Game Design you will investigate questions such as:
What needs to be considered for a game to resonate with its players?
How can games allow for the exploration of deep ideas and profound experiences?
What are dark design patterns?
What are the possibilities, but also the responsibilities, of a game designer?
How can game design specialists inform the way games are seen in, and impact, society?
As student, you do not need any previous game design, game development or programming experience. You will be exposed to a wide range of theories and creative methods to aid in the development of your own perspectives; to think holistically, broadly and deeply. Students coming to us as - or going on to become - journalists, teachers, artists, community organisers, activists, experience and exhibit designers or other creative industries professionals, will be able to use their active game literacy to inform their work.
There is a wide varitey of nationalities participating in the programme. In recent years the group has been under 50 students.
The programme leads to a Master of Arts (120 credits) with Game Design as the main field of study. After one year of study, it is also possible to obtain a Master of Arts (60 credits).
Carolina Bernárdez Martinez, from Mexico, and Melika Haghikia, from Iran.
How did you choose this programme?
Melika – I have loved playing games since I was a child, and my passion for gaming made me choose art as a field of study at a university in Iran. During the past 10 years, I worked with different companies in the gaming and animation industry, but I felt that it was necessary to update my knowledge.
Carolina – Sweden has become such an important place in the videogame industry, and it just felt right to choose this country, as well as this university, to further my studies.
What is it like to be an international student?
Carolina – Arriving in Sweden was a very interesting experience because of the culture shock. But as soon as I started meeting people and making friends, I found that people here are very nice and welcoming.
Melika – Being an international student, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the work because of the language barrier. However, after arriving in Visby, my worries disappeared. Studying abroad is exciting, challenging, and adventurous at the same time, but it comes with certain difficulties.
What is the best thing about studying at Uppsala University?
Melika – The staff has been supportive. They answer all your questions regardless of how silly you might think they are. They take time to make sure you have a full grasp of the subjects and specializations. The professors are well-qualified and committed and enthusiastic. Also, there are lots of activities to take a part in on campus.
Carolina – I would have to say the people. Moving from Mexico was an overwhelming experience at first, but they helped me feel comfortable whenever I was homesick. As for the studies themselves, they have been super interesting so far.
Do you remember your first impression of Visby? Please tell us!
Carolina – I’m from a big, noisy city. Visby is the opposite of what I grew up with! When I came from the airport I remember seeing all the wooded areas and thinking about how amazing it looked. Being from a big city, it definitely took some getting used to.
Melika – My first impression was the open sky. My biggest issue with major cities like Tehran, where I grew up, is that you can’t see the sky because pollution and tall buildings hide it from your line of vision. For me, Visby represents beauty and freedom.
What are three things on your schedules this week?
Melika – Planning for GGC 2023 (Gotland Game Conference), practicing Swedish, hanging out with friends and gaming.
Carolina – I usually have classes in the morning and then I like to go climbing and swimming in the afternoons. I do homework in the evenings. At the weekends, I usually meet with my friends to watch a movie or play a game.
The Master's programme in Game Design consists of two academic years of full-time studies. The first two semesters contain compulsory courses on the advanced level in game design research and you will take the courses together with students enrolled in the one-year Master's programme in Game Design.
In the first semester, you will take an introductory course that gives you a review of current research and development work in game design and game studies, emphasising active, critical game literacy in regard to the intersection of games and society. You will deepen your knowledge of conceptual game design approaches through practical, creative inquiries in the Game Design Studio course that follows. Parallel to the studio course, you will continue the in-depth, critical reflections on practices and contexts of game design in the course Games and Society.
During the first half of the second semester, you take two parallel courses. Critical Making is a theoretically informed, hands-on course, in which the discussion of games as pervasive media is central. In parallel the Advanced Game Design Research Methods course allows you to develop the questions that interest you the most, in a research or design project. From here you can start working towards your master thesis (fourth semester). During the later part of the semester, you will take the course Game Research Prototypes and Game Testing. This course allows you to dive deep into one design so that you can modulate and craft the experience of the players. You will learn how to test the game to understand if it works as planned and how it affects players emotionally.
The second year provides an opportunity for specialised study and you may deepen your interests through elective courses in the third semester. You can also choose to apply for an exchange programme, to study at one of our partner institutions.
The thesis concludes your studies during the fourth semester, with the degree of Master in Arts and must be based on theoretical research, have a clear problem statement and be conducted in a methodologically sound, rigorous and ethical way. We encourage practice-based work and for this, the Department of Game Design has equipment and resources for you to use.
The instruction in the programme combines seminars, lectures, hands-on game design workshops, project work (both in groups and individually), and design critiques through instructors and peers. New concepts and theories are introduced through poignant lectures and are, where appropriate, applied to practice. You are expected to show initiative and work independently to hone your academic and design skills and develop your identity and voice as a scholar, creator and game design researcher. You will learn a range of game design-relevant theories and methods. Furthermore, you will articulate your newfound knowledge in written and oral reports.
You will study at Uppsala University's Campus Gotland, located in Visby on the island of Gotland. The island is in the Baltic Sea between the mainland of Sweden and the Baltic States. Visby is the best-preserved Medieval town in Scandinavia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The language of instruction is exclusively English and you will study and collaborate with students from all over the world.
With our particular approach to the integration of theory and practice, we aim to strike a balance that opens up numerous career pathways for our students. Students can enter the games industry themselves, should they already come with a background in game development, or go the academic route. The skills and knowledge gained from the programme can be applied to all areas and professions that require effective, compelling communication, leadership and problem-solving skills.
This degree is best suited for those who use it as a complement to already existing skills or in an established profession where a deepened, critical, active game literacy - including games' expressive potential and impact on society - is of particular relevance.
Graduating from the Master's Programme in Game Design, you can harness the benefits of games and play to communicate important ideas, engage in further studies at the PhD level and/or shape the public conversation around this medium. This equips our alumni to act as consultants for the game industry as well as to contribute to an informed public conversation and more in-depth use of games as a medium.
During your time as a student, UU Careers offers support and guidance. You have the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities and events that will prepare you for your future career. Learn more about UU Careers.
Below you will find details about eligibility requirements, selection criteria and tuition fees. For information on how to apply and what general documents you need to submit, check the application guide. Besides the general supporting documents, you also need to submit two programme-specific documents: 1. a statement of purpose (1 page); 2. a digital portfolio of 1-5 items. All documents should be submitted on universityadmissions.se toghether with your application.
The statement of purpose should include artistic/academic goals and reasons for applying to the programme. Students are encouraged to be specific, vivid and focused, taking the programme description into account and connecting their own creative work and/or background to the nature of the programme as described in the programme description.
The digital portfolio may include examples in a variety of media as well as writing samples. Examples of portfolio items:
Series of digital prototypes or games demonstrating the applicant's breadth and depth of work in the field. lnclude download links, installation and gameplay instructions.
Board game or physical game. lnclude detailed documentation including video and photographs of gameplay as well as rules.
Game design document
Performance or event. lnclude documentation of project including video, photographs, and script.
Writing samples such as a scholarly article, essay, or creative writing
Creative practice in a professional field (animation, video, film, applications, graphic design, etc.).
A Bachelor's degree, equivalent to a Swedish Kandidatexamen, from an internationally recognised university.
Proficiency in English equivalent to the Swedish upper secondary course English 6. This requirement can be met either by achieving the required score on an internationally recognised test, or by previous upper secondary or university studies in some countries. Detailed instructions on how to provide evidence of your English proficiency are available at universityadmissions.se.
Selection: Students are selected based on:
an overall appraisal of previous university studies;
a statement of purpose; and
a digital portfolio of 1-5 items.
Tuition fee-paying students and non-paying students are admitted on the same grounds but in different selection groups.
If you are not a citizen of a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) country, or Switzerland, you are required to pay application and tuition fees. Fees cover application and tuition only and do not cover accommodation, academic literature or the general cost of living. Read more about fees.