Nineteen-year-old Andrea Kutsup has been a gamer since she was a kid. From “Lego Batman” to “Minecraft” and now “Overwatch,” she’s always loved video games.
“I developed a big friend group online through games,” she says, “and it has always been a safe place for me to go and express myself.”
Now as a second-year game artist at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, Kutsup isn’t just playing video games — she’s creating them. Her undergraduate degree combines her two passions — games and art — in a way that uniquely prepares her to pursue a career at a top video game company when she graduates.
Valued in 2020 at $173.70 billion, the video game industry is a growing global market — and it’s on track to reach $314.40 billion by 2026. Champlain College was ahead of the game as the first college with four-year academic programs in video game development when they launched game courses in 1998 and game-specific degrees in 2004. Today, the college boasts six undergraduate game-specific majors and three other game-adjacent majors that consistently earn Champlain a spot at the top of Princeton Review’s rankings of best undergraduate game design schools.
“If you’ve come to Champlain for game design, that’s what you’re studying. Not a computer science program or an art program, but a true game design program with many game-related courses, so our students can go really deep,” says Amanda Crispel, Chair of the Game Studio at Champlain College.
The Game Studio is one of the world’s most comprehensive game development programs, including faculty with extensive game industry experience; state-of-the art facilities; and six undergraduate majors.
As part of their curricula, students from these majors come together for 21 credits of collaborative work with each other — across disciplines — to develop and launch their own games.
“From their very first year, they’re working with students from other game major disciplines,” says Crispel. “That environment simulates the setup in a professional game studio, and allows our students to gain a level of skill not just specific to their one area of study, like game art or programming, but also to fully understand the process of how a game is developed through teamwork and collaboration.”
Inclusive and collaborative
Champlain’s Game Studio prides itself on its inclusivity, welcoming and encouraging students of all races and ethnicities, gender identities, and sexual orientations to thrive as they work toward their goals.
Kutsup says most of her Game Art classes are 50% women and 50% men, but some of her other game-related classes are male-dominated and more reflective of the percentages found in the game industry.
“Champlain College is very inclusive,” says Kutsup. “Even though I might be the only female in the class, I’m never at a disadvantage. We all respect each other, and we’re very open.”
She loves how hands-on and collaborative the program is; right from the start—she was already making games in her first year at Champlain. Now, she and her classmates create three games each semester. She’s also involved with Champlain Esports, which includes a robust club team and newly formed varsity leagues.
Kutsup is looking forward to being a game intern in the summer of her junior year, and Champlain has many game industry partners that favor Champlain game majors for their coveted internship spots.
“Champlain College graduates have so much production experience,” says Jeff Ross, a former Design Manager at Sony Bend, “it’s like they’ve been in the game industry for years.”
Many of Champlain’s graduates are hired directly by major game studios, such as Bend Studio, Insomniac Games, SEGA, and Ubisoft. On average over the past six years, 82% of game graduates achieved career success within six months of graduation in this highly competitive industry.
Learn more about Champlain College’s comprehensive game degree offerings: www.gamestudio.champlain.edu.