Games & Simulation Undergraduate Certificate

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This AI-generated image showcases what's possible. At the iSchool, you can learn how to analyze, manage and lead our transition into an AI-fueled future.

The Games and Simulation Certificate provides undergraduate students with the design and development skills necessary to create virtual interactive environments that span across devices and platforms.

While a certificate is not a professional certification, this certificate will signal to employers that students have dedicated the time and energy necessary to build fluency with concepts that underlie virtual world development.

The Games and Simulation Certificate serves a diverse student population, training both 1) technically minded students the nuances associated with effectively modeling real and imaginary settings, and 2) less technically minded students the basic skills necessary for making ideas come to life in a digital space.


Declaration or Application Process 

A certificate can be completed as a stand-alone program or alongside an undergraduate degree. There are no additional application requirements for the Games and Simulation Certificate.

If you are a current UArizona student, you may declare your certificate here:

Declare my Certificate 

If you are not a current UArizona student, you can apply for admission as a certificate-seeking student.

Games and Simulation is available via main campus and Arizona Online

Students must meet the same general UArizona admissions criteria as degree-seeking students. The requirements and expectations are the same as a first-year, transfer or readmit student depending on what admit type a student is (first-year, transfer or readmit). Students have to fill out the application fully and submit all required transcripts and requested materials. Certificate seeking students (as in Certificate seeking only, not as part of a degree) are not eligible for merit aid or financial aid and if they apply as degree-seeking in the future, they are considered "readmits."


Requirements

Students are required to maintain a 2.0 or C average in certificate coursework to complete the certificate. Student who wish to graduate with an undergraduate certificate should submit a certificate application to graduation services when they have finished the certificate requirements. There is a one-time $15 graduation fee. There are no deadlines to apply to graduate with a certificate.

Up to 6 units may be shared with a degree requirement (major, minor, General Education) or second certificate.

View or Download Certificate Fillable Checklist (PDF)


Courses

Required Courses

  • 12 units are required for the certificate 
  • Up to 6 units may be shared with a degree requirement (major, minor, General Education) or second certificate.
  • 9 units in residence (taken through UArizona; not transfer)
  • All students, including Game and Information Science major students, may only double use' 6 units towards another program of study (major, minor, General Education, or another certificate)

This course provides an introduction to game design and teaches students the fundamental concepts for creating games. Students will survey many different games, exploring the issues game designers face when designing games in different genres. Students will participate in a series of game design challenges and will be responsible for designing and prototyping simple games using a game building tool. Students will present their solutions to these challenges in front of the class for general discussion and constructive criticism.


Elective Courses

  • Complete 2 GAME courses (6 units):

This course focuses on a critical reading of video games, including cultural and gender representations, and implications of decisions in narratives and design. Students will analyze how video games bring new pathways, questions, and perspectives about cultural memory. Through creation of their own interactive fiction within this course as an important step in their game development education, students are encouraged to apply humanism and critical lenses to games' representation of local and global cultures.

Digital games have exploded in popularity and have given rise to new and fascinating policy questions. This course will explore legal issues in the context of digital games and related industries like eSports. These issues include but are not limited to those related to first amendment rights, censorship, privacy protections, unionization of professional groups, and intellectual property. This course will provide students a broad survey of legal and policy matters that will provide them with a helpful prospective and foundation for careers in digital game industries.

This hands-on project-based course centers on advanced simulation environments, including their development, evaluation, and importance in contexts ranging from education, health care and emergency response, exploration and mission planning, and entertainment. Understanding the objective of simulation will involve information gathering, problem exploration, and analysis of complex problems. The emphasis of this course will be on the effective design and integration of diverse elements. Practical and theoretical applications of these will include: mobile, virtual, augmented, mixed, and extended reality simulation; storyboarding and narrative development; collaborative participatory design; modeling methods; and a variety of human-computer interaction (e.g., affect and context aware systems) and learning science methodologies.

This project-based course engages students in exploring, assessing, and applying the elements of storytelling within the design of digital games, including the practice of situating game narrative as an essential design element across multiple communicative modes (i.e. imagery, audio, video, text). Students will explore narrative elements employed in classic and modern digital games, develop original story elements for digital games, and engage with the stories created by their colleagues.

This course develops and applies critical frameworks to understand diversity and bias in world-building, game mechanics, character representation, and social behavior within games. We will interrogate games to discover implicit and explicit biases, explore diversity and inclusion initiatives within the gaming industry, and develop strategies toward more inclusive game development and play experiences.

This hands-on project-based course centers on advanced simulation environments, their development, evaluation, and importance in contexts ranging from education, health care and emergency response, exploration and mission planning, and entertainment. Understanding the objective of simulation will involve information gathering, problem exploration, and multimethodological analysis of complex problems. The emphasis of this course will be on the effective design and integration of diverse elements and will include practical and theoretical applications, of: mobile, virtual, augmented, mixed, and extended reality simulation; storyboarding and narrative development; collaborative participatory design; modeling methods; and a variety of human-computer interaction (e.g., affect and context aware systems) and learning science (embodied learning and designed based research) methodologies.

The course on gamification introduces you to the uses of game design elements (such as online games or apps) in non-game contexts. Gamification is a broad concept, which has been increasingly applied to different sectors and areas, ranging from political communications, the non-profit sector (gamification for advocacy), the business sector, and even the public sector. The rise of gamification as an important tool and strategy raises fundamental questions about the opportunities, challenges and the risks of the increased use of websites, online games and apps for major sectors of society.  In this course, you will be introduced to and compare scholarly analyses of gamification across a variety of fields, analyze relevant case studies and best practices of gamified strategies from various social sectors such as business organizations, non-profits, media, and politics, examine common patterns in the development of gamification strategies, and survey potential benefits and disadvantages arising from the use and overuse of gamification principles.

This course surveys eSport as an activity, as a site for groups or teams building community, and as an emerging digital industry worldwide. Students will learn about differing stakeholders and organizations converging in eSports. Learners will also consider eSports from differing lenses, perspectives, and academic disciplines. Emerging employment opportunities in eSports as well as potentials for professional players will be discovered and examined.

This course aims to give students fundamental knowledge and hands-on experience about the ways of earning money through video games independently. The course will include content-based lectures that cover information about relevant aspects and platforms along with best-practices and real-life examples. There will be discussions, hands-on activities, research and case studies, reading and video assignments followed by quizzes, a midterm exam, and a final project that emphasizes hands-on application of the learned content. In the course, the tools of the trade and various channels for monetizing independent gaming will be introduced. After completing this course, students will be equipped with the necessary knowledge to be able to pursue independent money-earning activities in gaming.

Video game development is an ever-changing diverse field that has seen many advances in the recent years. This course aims to teach students fundamental concepts of game development as well as basics of the Unity Game Engine. The course will cover topics such as fundamentals of C#, components of Unity, game objects, transform operations, cameras, lights, materials, textures, skyboxes, terrains, prefabs, handling assets, adjusting project settings, character controllers, particle systems, physics components, ray casting, animation and audio. The course is heavily hands-on and project oriented. The covered topics will be implemented on small-scaled Unity template projects. There will be a larger scaled final project, where students will implement a basic video game applying the best practices covered throughout the course. At the end of the course, students will have gained fundamental game development skills that can be further advanced with upper level courses.

Game development is a vast field with many advanced concepts. This course aims to teach students such concepts, techniques and mechanisms in Unity, covering procedural content generation, design patterns, artificial intelligence, shaders and postprocessing effects, animation, custom interactions and gestures, and performance optimization. The students are expected to have fundamental game development knowledge in Unity and C#. The course is heavily hands-on and project oriented. Students will implement the covered concepts on small-scaled Unity project templates using C# and also develop a larger-scaled final term project. At the end of the course, students will have gained advanced game development skills that can be applied to future jobs or self-development.

Additional Elective Courses

  • Complete one additional course (3 units) chosen from any of the following:

This course will lay a foundation for understanding how stories shape communities, identities, memories, and perspectives on our lives. In addition, this course will provide opportunities for the theoretical analysis of self representation, composite narratives on behalf of others, cultural heritage, and memories as they are preserved and performed within stories and through narrative. Influences on digital storytelling such as the sociocultural context, the institutional contexts of production the audience, and the needs or goals of the digital storyteller will be examined. Students will be required to call on their own intellectual, emotional, and imaginative processes, as well as to develop their own skills in digital storytelling, interviewing, oral history collection, and the use of relevant digital storytelling tools.

This course focuses on a critical reading of video games, including cultural and gender representations, and implications of decisions in narratives and design. Students will analyze how video games bring new pathways, questions, and perspectives about cultural memory. Through creation of their own interactive fiction within this course as an important step in their game development education, students are encouraged to apply humanism and critical lenses to games' representation of local and global cultures.

Digital games have exploded in popularity and have given rise to new and fascinating policy questions. This course will explore legal issues in the context of digital games and related industries like eSports. These issues include but are not limited to those related to first amendment rights, censorship, privacy protections, unionization of professional groups, and intellectual property. This course will provide students a broad survey of legal and policy matters that will provide them with a helpful prospective and foundation for careers in digital game industries.

This hands-on project-based course centers on advanced simulation environments, including their development, evaluation, and importance in contexts ranging from education, health care and emergency response, exploration and mission planning, and entertainment. Understanding the objective of simulation will involve information gathering, problem exploration, and analysis of complex problems. The emphasis of this course will be on the effective design and integration of diverse elements. Practical and theoretical applications of these will include: mobile, virtual, augmented, mixed, and extended reality simulation; storyboarding and narrative development; collaborative participatory design; modeling methods; and a variety of human-computer interaction (e.g., affect and context aware systems) and learning science methodologies.

This project-based course engages students in exploring, assessing, and applying the elements of storytelling within the design of digital games, including the practice of situating game narrative as an essential design element across multiple communicative modes (i.e. imagery, audio, video, text). Students will explore narrative elements employed in classic and modern digital games, develop original story elements for digital games, and engage with the stories created by their colleagues.

This course develops and applies critical frameworks to understand diversity and bias in world-building, game mechanics, character representation, and social behavior within games. We will interrogate games to discover implicit and explicit biases, explore diversity and inclusion initiatives within the gaming industry, and develop strategies toward more inclusive game development and play experiences.

The course on gamification introduces you to the uses of game design elements (such as online games or apps) in non-game contexts. Gamification is a broad concept, which has been increasingly applied to different sectors and areas, ranging from political communications, the non-profit sector (gamification for advocacy), the business sector, and even the public sector. The rise of gamification as an important tool and strategy raises fundamental questions about the opportunities, challenges and the risks of the increased use of websites, online games and apps for major sectors of society.  In this course, you will be introduced to and compare scholarly analyses of gamification across a variety of fields, analyze relevant case studies and best practices of gamified strategies from various social sectors such as business organizations, non-profits, media, and politics, examine common patterns in the development of gamification strategies, and survey potential benefits and disadvantages arising from the use and overuse of gamification principles.

This course surveys eSport as an activity, as a site for groups or teams building community, and as an emerging digital industry worldwide. Students will learn about differing stakeholders and organizations converging in eSports. Learners will also consider eSports from differing lenses, perspectives, and academic disciplines. Emerging employment opportunities in eSports as well as potentials for professional players will be discovered and examined.

This course aims to give students fundamental knowledge and hands-on experience about the ways of earning money through video games independently. The course will include content-based lectures that cover information about relevant aspects and platforms along with best-practices and real-life examples. There will be discussions, hands-on activities, research and case studies, reading and video assignments followed by quizzes, a midterm exam, and a final project that emphasizes hands-on application of the learned content. In the course, the tools of the trade and various channels for monetizing independent gaming will be introduced. After completing this course, students will be equipped with the necessary knowledge to be able to pursue independent money-earning activities in gaming.

Video game development is an ever-changing diverse field that has seen many advances in the recent years. This course aims to teach students fundamental concepts of game development as well as basics of the Unity Game Engine. The course will cover topics such as fundamentals of C#, components of Unity, game objects, transform operations, cameras, lights, materials, textures, skyboxes, terrains, prefabs, handling assets, adjusting project settings, character controllers, particle systems, physics components, ray casting, animation and audio. The course is heavily hands-on and project oriented. The covered topics will be implemented on small-scaled Unity template projects. There will be a larger scaled final project, where students will implement a basic video game applying the best practices covered throughout the course. At the end of the course, students will have gained fundamental game development skills that can be further advanced with upper level courses.

Algorithms are a crucial component of game development. This course will provide students with an in-depth introduction to algorithm concepts for game development. The course will cover basic algorithm and data structures concepts, basic math concepts related to game algorithms, physics and artificial intelligence based game algorithms that are supplemented with modern examples. Unity Game Engine along with C# programming language will be used throughout the class.

This course provides a comprehensive survey of video game production practices. Students work on game development assignments for presentation in a professional portfolio. The course topics include: collaborative technologies, software design patterns for games, spatial transformations, and technical considerations surrounding game art, such as authoring sprites, 3D models, animations, texture mapping, and writing shaders. Students will be given periodic assignments that reinforce lessons from class.

Game development is a vast field with many advanced concepts. This course aims to teach students such concepts, techniques and mechanisms in Unity, covering procedural content generation, design patterns, artificial intelligence, shaders and postprocessing effects, animation, custom interactions and gestures, and performance optimization. The students are expected to have fundamental game development knowledge in Unity and C#. The course is heavily hands-on and project oriented. Students will implement the covered concepts on small-scaled Unity project templates using C# and also develop a larger-scaled final term project. At the end of the course, students will have gained advanced game development skills that can be applied to future jobs or self-development.

An introduction to computational techniques and using a modern programming language to solve current problems drawn from science, technology, and the arts. Topics include control structures, elementary data structures, and effective program design and implementation techniques. Weekly laboratory.

**Programming-intensive Course, College Algebra recommended

This course examines the ways in which computing and information science support and facilitate the production and creation of art in current society. A particular focus of the course will be to discuss how artists have used advances in technology and computing capacity to explore new ways of making art, and to investigate the relationships between technical innovation and the artistic process. This class satisfies a Tier II: Arts General Education Requirement. Alternatively, this class can be applied towards the ISTA BA/BS and ISTA minor. Tier II Gen-eds can be double-dipped with a minor but not a major. 

This course will provide the student with the information and experience necessary for the creation and manipulation of digital audio. Students will have the opportunity to experience the music-making process with the technology tools and techniques that are common in both home and professional studios. The class will make use of a variety of software packages designed for contemporary music production, explaining the universal techniques and concepts that run through all major software programs. Topics will include musical analysis, MIDI control, synthesis techniques, audio editing, and audio mixing. Lab assignments will emphasize hands-on experience working with musical hardware and software to provide the necessary skills to create music based on today's musical styles. The course provides the foundation for further study, creative applications, and personal expression.

Virtual reality (VR) is an emerging technology that has recently been widely used in various areas, such as education, training, well-being, and entertainment. VR offers a highly immersive experience as the head mounted displays surround a 360-degree view of the user. It encompasses many disciplines, such as computer science, human computer interaction, game design and development, information science, and psychology. This course merges a theoretical and practical approach to give students the necessary knowledge that is required to design, develop, and critique virtual reality games and applications.