The 15 best affordable game development courses you can find online, whether you're a total beginner or advanced programmer

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  • You can find many online game development courses from e-learning sites like Coursera, edX, and Udemy. 
  • Below, you’ll find 15 of the best online game design classes, from two-hour beginner courses to series that train students for the Unity Certified 3D Artist exam.
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Whether you’re a total beginner interested in game design, or a current programmer looking to re-skill, there are several online courses for game development that span a variety of skill levels and specializations. Options range from an online UPenn Wharton course that applies digital game design techniques to business, to classes on crafting compelling storylines. 

Most courses will arm students with the conceptual and technical knowledge needed to advance, plus projects for their portfolios and the option to earn a certificate of completion.

Below, you’ll find a few of the best and most affordable options whether you want to dabble in a new hobby or up-skill to stand out in the job market. Courses range in specificity, length, and emphasis to best suit individual needs. 

Top 5 game development courses:

  • C# Programming – Unity Game Development Certification (Coursera)
  • Unity Certified 3D Artist Specialization (Coursera)
  • Complete C# Unity Game Developer 2D (Udemy)
  • Computer Science for Game Development (edX)
  • Create Your First Game with Python (Coursera)

Read on for all 15 of the best game development courses:

C# Programming – Unity Game Development Certification

Time commitment: Approximately 7 months

Certificate: Yes 

This specialization (which includes four courses and a final project) is great for beginners. It assumes no programming experience, and students will learn to program in C# and then use those new skills to create Unity games.

Each of the courses includes exercises to instruct students on concepts in C# and Unity — from 10-20 exercises per course to several larger C# console applications and Unity prototypes, as well as two complete games. In the final capstone course, students will implement their own game idea using Unity and C#.

Unity Certified 3D Artist Specialization

Time commitment: Approximately 7 months

Certificate: Yes

This five-course program is Unity’s official series and is designed to prepare students for the Unity Certified 3D Artist exam. Students will work on two main projects: a Kitchen Configuration application with a realistic look and a 3D video game level with a “stylized science-fantasy” aesthetic. Across both, learners will import assets, manipulate materials, create prefabs, add lighting, and more.

This course is best suited for those who have been using Unity for real-time rendering for one or two years and are looking to demonstrate a professional standard.

Complete C# Unity Game Developer 2D

Time commitment: 34 hours of instruction

Certificate: Yes

Students will learn C# from scratch so no programming experience is necessary, though it may be helpful. On top of building a solid foundational understanding, students will create playable game projects to use in their portfolios and become adept at using the Unity game engine. Students will also develop transferable skills like coding, problem-solving, and applying knowledge from this course to .NET and other languages.  

This course is fitting for everyone from beginners to developers looking to re-skill.

Computer Science for Game Development

Time commitment: Approximately 6 months

Certificate: Yes

This program (which includes two courses) is designed to build a broad understanding of computer science, programming, and software development, as well as empower students to feel comfortable in the fundamentals of game design and development. 

Students will be introduced to concepts like abstraction, algorithms, data structures, encapsulation, resource management, security, software engineering, and web development. Students will also work on familiarity with multiple languages such as C, Python, JavaScript, SQL, CSS, and HTML, as well as the principles of 2D and 3D work.

Create Your First Game with Python

Time commitment: 2 hours

Certificate: No

This two-hour long project-based course helps students learn the basics of game development with Python using PyGame modules. Students will learn concepts like creating a game loop and image display through hands-on experience.

The course is designed for students looking to get started with game development who already have some prior programming experience in Python.

Unreal Engine C++ Developer Course

Time commitment: 31 hours

Certificate:  Yes

This course is designed for students from beginners to developers and existing programmers who are looking to re-skill.

Students will learn everything from C++, Git, and programming patterns and best practices to transferable problem-solving skills and vector maths for game play and physics calculations. 

Game Design and Development Specialization

Time commitment: Approximately 6 months

Certificate: Yes

This specialization (four courses and a capstone project) focuses on both the theoretical and practical foundations of video game production while using the Unity 3D game engine. Its instructors have a reported 50+ years of experience building games and teaching game production.

Lessons will cover everything from prototypes to iterations to licensing and marketing. It’s a good fit for those looking to build a foundation that can be applied to roles like gameplay designer, level designer, technical designer/artist, programmer, or producer. 

Students will build four complete Unity3D game projects by applying the skills and knowledge they’ve gained throughout the course. In a final capstone project, they’ll build an original market-ready game. 

The online game portal Kongregate is the capstone partner, which provides an avenue for distribution of the project and a pathway for monetization.

Introduction to Game Development

Time commitment: 19 hours

Certificate: Yes

This introductory course teaches students how to start developing their own video games using standard development tools like Unity3D game engine and C#. Once completed, students will have created three hands-on projects and have the skillsets needed to create basic games. 

Business of Games and Entrepreneurship

Time commitment: 17 hours

Certificate: Yes

This course focuses on the videogame industry landscape and can be useful to those who want to make games as a hobby or start their own business. Students will learn about game production, project management, teamwork skills, and how to position their game and themselves in the marketplace.

Once finished, students should be able to develop a portfolio of game work and a business plan to bring their game to market. 

Introduction to Game Design

Time commitment: 10 hours

Certificate: Yes

This introductory course requires no prior programming experience and focuses on the conceptual basics of games. Students will learn about the primary underpinnings of gaming and how those basics affect the way that users interact with games.  

Story and Narrative Development for Video Games

Time commitment: 11 hours

Certificate: Yes

This course focuses on the story and narrative that drives gameplay forward, so students will learn how to create a compelling game concept.

Students will evaluate and interpret historical and contemporary games to identify different story styles and the themes and procedures that they can use in their own games. Students will also explore traditional narrative storytelling processes and how they complement a game’s strategic elements. 

Game Development for Modern Platforms

Time commitment: 13 hours

Certificate: Yes

This game development course teaches students how to “develop, refine, package, and prepare [their] game” for distribution on diverse game platforms such as Web, Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android. They’ll pick up intermediate and advanced game development techniques in the Unity game engine and pay special attention to developing a 2D- platform game that works well on different computing devices and supports multiple input and output forms.

Principles of Game Design

Time commitment: 18 hours

Certificate: Yes

This course focuses specifically on turning an idea for a game into the real deal. Students will learn how to move from game concept to design documentation. It also delves into prototyping and testing.

At the end of the course, students will have produced a game’s high concept document, one-page blueprint, physical prototype, and pitch with supporting design documentation.

Game Music Composition: Make Music For Games From Scratch

Time commitment: 20 hours

Certificate: Yes

This course teaches you how to compose original video game music through the lens of music theory, composition, production, and general game music knowledge. 

Complete Blender Creator: Learn 3D Modelling for Beginners

Time commitment: 65.5 hours of instructional video

Certificate: Yes

Students will learn how to use Blender to create 3D models, including combining CGI with real-life footage, using Blender’s physics engine, and exporting their models to external packages. 

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