Game Design Essentials

Online game design course for beginners taught by video game industry experts


Learn essential tools and techniques to begin your game design journey

Uncover what makes a video game compelling and start building your knowledge in designing game systems while you explore industry-used software, including Unreal Engine and Photoshop.

Why study game design with us:
  • Receive mentorship from professional game designers
  • We are an Unreal Academic Partner and Authorized Training Center
  • Discover industry techniques and workflows
  • Private 1-on-1 or small group classes (max. 4 students)

Learn the basics of game design through systems and mechanics, understand different job roles and team structures, deconstruct games to reveal intricate design decisions, and start designing and building your own game!


Industry Certificate


3 months


20 hrs weekly

Skill level


Start date

August 5th, 2024
September 9th, 2024
October 7th, 2024


Group Class: $3,333 USD
Private Class: $4,677 USD
Ask about our payment plans

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Industry-approved curriculum to help launch your career as a game designer

Term 1: 12 weeks

Foundations 1: Essentials of Game Design

Before you can begin building a game you need a basic understanding of game design theory. We'll look at HOW things should be designed, WHY they work, and WHAT you need to do to make a compelling game. See how a platform can change the game design in fundamental ways, and how the differences must be adapted across genres.

Expect to play a LOT of games in the name of research. Every great designer must know how to analyze, deconstruct and understand how each game differs and why. You'll achieve this by learning how to paper design and concept, getting the hang of writing a level design specification, and ensuring level functionality and other technical needs are met.

*This short course is equivalent to the first term of the Game Design Foundations course. If you continue your learning journey, you'll be eligible to join the Foundations course from Term 2 onwards.

  • Understand what a game and game systems are and how to design them
  • Design compelling game systems, quests & objectives
  • Design core gameplay mechanics
  • Add visuals to enhance levels
  • Start learning the Unreal game engine and building simple prototypes

Portfolio projects: Game pitch document, game design document, UE gameplay prototype.

  1. Introduction to Game Systems
  2. System Design
  3. Communicating
  4. Visual Design
  5. Game Genres
  6. Core Systems
  7. Development Process
  8. Single Player Design
  9. Technical Design
  10. Level Design
  11. Prototyping
  12. Creating a Prototype
Course Structure

Your Pathway to the Industry

This short course is equivalent to term one of the Foundations course. On completion of the Essentials course, if you decide to progress further with your studies, you'll enroll straight into term two of the corresponding Foundations course which means you'll already be one-third of the way through your studies! Continue your learning journey towards an exciting career in the industry by enrolling into the Foundations Career Track.

Pathway illustration for Essentials 3 Month Course

Develop your game design skills led by video game experts

Receive training, support, and personalized feedback from video game experts with years of industry experience.

Frequently asked questions

Game Design Essentials course FAQs

Learn more about the prerequisites for this course and the game development careers you could explore in the future. For general questions about studying at CG Spectrum, visit the main FAQ page or contact us.

Age Minimum
he general minimum age to be able to enroll in our industry certificate courses is 16. We require parent or guardian consent during the enrollment process for applicants under 18.

Students under 16 will require a further assessment before they can officially enrol. This may include an interview with a course advisor and the creation of a study plan to ensure they have considered how they will manage a college-level workload.

English Proficiency
We expect our students to have a good understanding of written and spoken English. There’s no specific ’level'; however, you must be able to understand video tutorials in English (no subtitles) and speak with your mentor in English during your live Q&A session.

Computer Literacy
To be successful in this program, you will need basic computer skills and a computer that meets the minimum specifications (see next question).



Students are required to use Unreal Engine, which is free to download. 

We also recommend that you purchase Photoshop/Illustrator (photography plan only) for the duration of your course. Free alternatives to Photoshop include GIMP/Inkscape.


Students will need a dedicated graphics card and a computer that meets the minimum requirements for Unreal Engine and Photoshop

Please note: as the software we use is regularly updated, please check the specs against the latest available version at the time of enroling.

At CG Spectrum, occasionally, it is possible to skip ahead and start studying in later terms. We highly recommend that most students do not skip ahead as each subject covers a tremendous amount of information and skills that will be used throughout the entire program (and will require some catching up in your own time if skipped).

Term one is still incredibly challenging and covers a lot of material. It includes over 25 hours of lecture videos and there are over a dozen assignments students need to complete. All of the future course material will build upon this foundation.

The course will cover some basic concepts, teach the basics of using the Unreal Engine, teach the fundamentals of system and level design, and teach you how to deconstruct games properly and design using a systemic approach. 

If you have not released an indie game or worked professionally to design PC/Console AAA games, we highly recommend you do not skip the first term. Even if you have designed mobile games, VR, or other genres or platforms of games, we do not recommend skipping it as the nuances are different in each platform.

If you want to be considered for skipping the first term, you must submit a portfolio to be reviewed and considered. The portfolio must include:

  • Example Pitch Deck, Game Pitch, and a Game Design Document (GDD) for a major action, adventure, role-playing, shooter or other mainstream AAA PC/console game.
  • Whitebox level prototype in Unreal Engine or Unity.
  • Example PLAYABLE level or game built in Unreal Engine or Unity. It must also be action, adventure, role-playing, shooter, or other mainstream AAA PC/console game.

This will ensure that you are familiar with the right materials, concepts, and tools to design new game concepts and build them in a game engine.

If you are unsure if your skills are sufficient, send us your portfolio when you apply, and we'll arrange for the department head to review it and, depending on the circumstances, a student interview.

This short course will get you started on your creative journey, but in a competitive industry, we advise continuing your studies with the full career track.

The game design career track includes the Game Design Foundations and the Game Designer Specialization (available early 2025). It is designed to better prepare you for a job in the industry and help increase your employment opportunities.

The career track ensures you build strong foundational skills before moving on to more complex techniques and workflows. You will also dedicate time to career development and preparing a polished portfolio while you gain invaluable industry insights.

Some of the junior game design jobs you could pursue after completing the full study pathway include:

Discover more about these game development jobs, tips, and salary expectations on our careers page: