In recent years there has been an explosion in popularity for kids who want to learn how to create their own video games at home. There are many free resources available including books, videos, lessons, and forums but not everyone is prepared to teach themselves. So should people try and teach themselves game design or take a degree instead?

There are many people who want to teach themselves game development. But is it possible? Can you learn at home, or does it take a degree? The answer is not straightforward and depends on what kind of person you are and how much time you have. If you’re looking for a quick yes or no, then the answer is that in some cases, it can be done with minimal effort. However, if you want to make games professionally, then game development requires dedication and hard work just like any other profession. In this article, we will explore both sides of the argument so that readers can come up with an educated decision about self-teaching their way into the industry!

Let’s look at the skills you need to be a game developer.

To those who are just starting, game development might seem like a daunting and confusing industry. We have programming, art, sound design and more to consider. But the truth is that there are many different paths you can take within game development based on your skillsets- for example, if you’re an artist but not into coding or mathematics then it’s possible to work as an environment designer or animator without ever touching code.

It will be difficult at first because what we know from experience in school doesn’t always apply here (e.g., math) – but with time and patience, anyone can learn how to make games professionally.

3D Modeling

3D modeling is the process of creating three-dimensional objects using computer graphics software. By manipulating different aspects, such as the shape and texture, you can create almost any object imaginable on a screen.

There are thousands of free 3D Modeling tutorials on YouTube for beginners, giving you a jumpstart in the game industry.

You can also find tons of free textures and models online to use for your own projects – but be aware that most are copyrighted material so it’s best not to share them or put them into games that you plan on selling commercially.

The first step would have been picking up an idea from one of these sites:

“Tutorials point”, “CGCookie”, “Lynda”. All three offer tutorials for every level of game development experience, which means that just about anyone should be able to find something they’re interested in learning. But if those weren’t helpful enough… there was always YouTube!

From inspecting these sites, you might have a good idea of that 3D modeling software is going to be best for making the games you want. There are multiple software packages available for developing games at home, but we will leave a review of the experience to another day.


Animation is an essential component to bring any game environment to life. It can be used to create emotions, add a sense of movement and provide feedback for the player. The majority of animation in games is done using keyframes or motion capture data from real actors – although it’s entirely possible to animate with just your computer keyboard if you’re feeling adventurous!

Once again, most artists will use some sort of digital art package at this stage and there are many available on the market. Some packages are very simple while others have an extensive range of features that allow them to do everything from conceptualizing concepts to game design. There is no ‘right’ answer here about which one you should choose as they all come down to personal preference but we’d recommend trying out several different options before deciding what works best for you.

Similar to 3D modeling, animation has been self-taught online for several years now. However, these days it’s more common to find animation courses in colleges and universities that come with mentorship from industry professionals. That way you can do the technical side of learning through online tutorials while working on your skills with a professional!

Programming in Unity or Unreal Engine

Unity is an industry-standard for game development with its own programming language called C++ which is designed specifically to work within Unity projects (so it’s easier than starting from scratch). There are many resources online that will teach you how to use this program – but if your skillset doesn’t include coding then now might not be the time to learn!

Unreal Engine is another game development platform that is gaining popularity in the industry. However, unlike Unity it does not have its own programming language and instead relies on other languages like C++ or JavaScript to do its work – this might be a good option for those of you who are already familiar with coding.

Many people back out when I mention that programming is needed for game development. Programming can seem difficult and not for everyone.

If you’re one of those people, then don’t worry! Game development is just as much about art and design. You might not need to be the one writing all the code if you like doing other aspects of game-making.

Sound Design Software & Audio Mixing

Your game environment could be as beautifully modeled and textured as it likes, but it would be nowhere with at least some basic sound design. A lot of game development software such as Unity and Unreal Engine provide some basic tools for sound design, but there are also a number of programs that allow you to do more advanced work. For example, if you need to create the sounds for every creature in your fantasy world – then FMOD Designer is what you’re looking for (it’s not free though).

There are many other pieces of software that can help with sound design; from simple editing suites like Audacity up to professional level audio production packages such as Pro Tools which would be best used by people who have already had training or experience working with these types of systems.

Thinking of Studying Game Design at Home?

So now that we’ve established that it is indeed possible to study and self-teach game design skills at home, let’s investigate the potential drawbacks studying at home might have.

As a first-year university student, I had to do multiple hours of self-study every week and they were all very much worth the effort. Many people might find this difficult because you have to be proactive about your learning. If you need help or guidance then it’s best that you sign up for one of the many game design courses on offer at universities around the world – depending on what type of games are your preference there should be something suitable near enough wherever you live!

You also get access to an actual degree course to things like industry networking which can’t really happen without spending time in college.

The main disadvantage is not having teachers close by if anything goes wrong; when it comes down to getting stuck on how certain processes work, or how to use certain programs on your computer.

Even if you do have an instructor in the same city it’s likely they’ll be just as busy teaching people in their office and might not always have time for one-on-one tutoring – which is fine because learning at home can’t replace getting a quality education from a university that specializes in games design! There are many benefits of finishing courses such as this; including finding employment opportunities with companies all over the world and having access to various career paths after graduating.

Where Can I Learn Game Design Online?

Some other resources for game development online include Udemy,, and Codecademy. YouTube is free and you can study at your own pace. Plus, it’s for free

Online Resources:

Udemy Website – Learn to make games on Unity with this comprehensive course that has over 20 hours of video content! ($200). Unlike YouTube, Udemy has strict quality control over its courses which guarantees the quality of the videos and the experience of the instructor you will be working with. or LinkedIn Learning – Access tutorials from experts in the field on topics like digital drawing techniques and animation software (monthly fee subscription required).

Codecademy – Interactive courses teach web programming languages such as HTML/CSS or JavaScript; includes a game coding project worth 120 points that will help you get started (free registration)

-Many gaming companies now have online tutorials such as Blizzard Entertainment’s “Blizzard Academy” which is available to everyone for free.

-Visit your local library! You can also try books on game development such as “The Game Maker’s Apprentice: The Fundamentals of Computer Game Programming by Craig E Hughes (Paperback)”

Where Can I Study Game Design in South Africa?

Depending on how much time you have available and your budget, the best option for game design study in South Africa could be a tertiary institution. Options include:

The Creative Media Academy (CMA) offers an online Bachelor of Arts with Game Design as one of their majors. They offer free tuition to candidates who meet certain criteria such as being able to demonstrate that they are under 24 years old or can show evidence that qualifying financial assistance is not currently available from another source. CMA also has a campus at Sunninghill in Johannesburg where students attend classes three hours per day five days per week while studying full-time distance learning courses through the rest of the week.

Open Window Institute (OWI) is a private distance education institution with courses that start at the Entry Level Certificate in Game Design. OWI requires students to complete three years of study before they can apply for a Diploma qualification and then two more years to get their Bachelor’s degree, or four if they want an Honours degree.

The Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) offers both onsite and online learning options for game design with tuition starting from around R110 000 per year. AIE provides specialized training by offering internships as part of its course programs which means it has strong links with industry professionals.

-Online secondary institutions like Unisa offer undergraduate degrees through Open Universities South Africa (OUSA).

Vega School is a brand of the Independent Institute of Education, and they have in more recent years offered Game Design as a degree.

The University of the Witwatersrand offers an undergraduate degree in Digital Media with a game design major.

University of Cape Town’s Computer Science and Information Systems graduate program accepts applications, as does Rhodes University which has a Game Development minor.

SAE Institute offers a Game Development program in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

Stellenbosch University offers a Master of Science degree in Computer Games Technology with specializations available for game design or programming.

Learn3D has campuses based in Johannesburg and Cape Town , and offers a comprehensive Game Development course.

The University of Pretoria also has an undergraduate degree in Computer Games Technology, with specializations available for game design or programming.

How Much Does A Game Design Degree Cost?

The fees for a game design degree vary depending on the institution.

-Unisa offers undergraduate degrees through Open Universities South Africa, and currently charges R37,000 per year.

-At the University of Cape Town’s Computer Science and Information Systems graduate program admission is free but you will need to pay tuition of around R25 000 for an honors degree or about double that for a Ph.D. degree.

-Rhodes University charges US$1400 USD per semester at their Game Development minor which means it would cost $11 400 USD if you study full time over four semesters.

There are other factors worth considering when choosing whether to go back to university or not including how much debt you may. One of these factors you would need to consider is which software the university is basing their education on and if that software is free or not.

Along with expensive software, you will be looking at investing in some expensive hardware for game development as well. An example of this is a high-end PC, which will cost about $1000 USD.

Is Game Design Right for You?

There is a specific type of person who would make a good game designer. To be a good game designer, you would need to nurture both the right and left sides of your brain.

In order to be a good game designer, you would need to have the ability to think creatively and in new ways. You also need to have an understanding of how people interact with games. This will help when designing levels or determining what feedback is appropriate for players at any given point during gameplay. Finally, it’s important that designers know their audience. If they don’t understand who is going to play their game then they won’t do as well creating a fun experience for them because this knowledge can affect everything from character design down to level layout choices.

The decision to go back to university for game development depends on your personal situation. If you have a full-time job that is not in the industry as well as an established career and lots of debt, it might be worth going back to learn more about game development because this could help with getting promotions or finding new jobs. On the other hand, if you don’t need any qualifications at all and working from home suits your lifestyle then continuing self-learning can work out better depending on what software they are teaching their classes on.

After reading the article “Teaching Yourself Game Development: Can You Learn at Home, or Does it Take a Degree?”, what do you think? How can people teach themselves game development if they don’t have time/money for university studies? Should more universities provide this as a major option? Let us know if you found this article helpful, and what your aspirations are for your future in game development.

Leah van der Walt

Leah van der Walt

Leah is a 3D Artist & VR / AR Developer with 8 years of experience. Based in South Africa, she is a passionate teacher and loves to listen to drum and bass in her spare time.

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