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The 14 best online game development courses, from free beginner classes to advanced certificate programs

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Closeup of person's hands typing on a laptop in their lap

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  • You can find online game development courses from e-learning sites like Coursera, edX, and Udemy
  • Below, you’ll find the best online game design and development classes, from beginner to advanced.
  • They range in topics from core programming principles to pixel art and animation.

Whether you’re a programmer looking for a career switch or a complete beginner who’s always wanted to make their own game, there are many online courses for game development and design out there.

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

Below, you’ll find some 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.

Beginner game development courses

In-depth courses and programs

Creative game design courses

A short course about the game development industryGraphic of a hand creating a video game from the Game Design Foundations: Ideas, Core Loops, and Goals  LinkedIn Learning online course

LinkedIn Learning

Time commitment: 1 hour and 32 minutes

This short course is perfect for anyone who’s interested in being a game designer but doesn’t know where to start. Led by an award-winning game designer, it covers the basics of breaking into the industry, drafting game ideas and loops, and turning loose concepts into concrete designs for teams to create.

An intro game design course for complete beginnersLight up Xbox video game controller on a dark surface

Suludan Diliyaer/Pexels

Time commitment: 10 hours

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

A beginner-friendly Javascript and Phaser.js courseA green graphic of a gaming controller

Codecademy

Time commitment: 6 weeks

Perfect for beginners, this course teaches students how to build games completely from scratch by learning to code in JavaScript and use the Phaser.js library to add visual effects and put the whole game together. Students end the course with three completed games.

A course for beginners and experts to learn C++ and GitOver the shoulder view of a person wearing headphones taking a gaming development course on a Mac desktop.

Hitesh Choudhary/Pexels

Time commitment: 31 hours

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

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

A two-course program that covers C, Python, JavaScript, SQL, CSS, and HTMLComputer screen showing a video game coding program

Luis Gomes/Pexels

Time commitment: 6 months

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 are introduced to concepts like abstraction, algorithms, data structures, encapsulation, resource management, security, software engineering, and web development. Students 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.

A four-course C# programming specialization for beginnersTwo people looking at a computer taking a Gaming Development online course.

Christina Morillo/Pexels

Time commitment:  7 months

This specialization (which includes four courses and a final project) is great for beginners. It assumes no programming experience, and students 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 implement their own game idea using Unity and C#.

A game development project for those who know some PythonOverhead view of a person typing on a laptop with a book about Python programming in the chair next to them.

Christina Moirllo/Pexels

Time commitment: 2 hours

This two-hour project-based course helps students learn the basics of game development with Python using PyGame modules. Students 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.

A crash course in C# unity 2D game developmentPerson's hand typing on a keyboard in a dark room

Soumil Kumar/Pexels

Time commitment: 34 hours

Students learn C# from scratch so no programming experience is necessary, though it may be helpful. On top of building a solid foundational understanding, students create playable game projects to use in their portfolios and become adept at using the Unity game engine. Students 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.

A course for those familiar with some PythonGraphic from the FutureLearn Object-oriented Programming in Python: Create Your Own Adventure Game online course

FutureLearn

Time commitment: 4 weeks

For those already familiar with Python, this course covers the basics of object-oriented programming, teaching students how to create objects, functions, methods, and classes. By the end, you’ll produce a module and learn how to extend other people’s classes through inheritance and polymorphism.

A five-course program in Unity 3D game designSony playstation video game controller on a yellow surface

Stas Knop/Pexels

Time commitment: 5 months

This specialization (five 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 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 build four complete Unity 3D game projects by applying the skills and knowledge they’ve gained throughout the course. In a final capstone project, they 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.

A course devoted to pixel art and animationA video game pixel art tutorial from Skillshare

Skillshare

Time commitment: 5 hours and 11 minutes

Designed to focus on the art behind games, this is the first course in a three-part Skillshare series that teaches students how to make lines and shapes, understand color theory, design characters and backgrounds, and — finally — put it all together through animation. As a nice bonus, Skillshare also lets you share your projects with the class for feedback.

A course on writing game plots and storylinesPerson sitting at a desk looking at two computer monitors with code shown on them.

ThisIsEngineering/Pexels

Time commitment: 11 hours

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

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

A beginner course in 3D modelingPerson making a 3D model of a lion on a computer.

ThisIsEngineering/Pexels

Time commitment: 65.5 hours

Students 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. 

A course in writing music for gameskeyboard, gaming headphones, controllers, and gummy candy scattered on a desktop shot in purple lighting

Lulizler/Pexels

Time commitment: 20 hours

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

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