If you’re a playfully serious business person, game industry professional, or educator interested in changing the world and wondering how to introduce serious games into your career path, Michigan State University’s fully online graduate certificate in serious games might be what you’re looking for. While these courses are offered in person at the MSU campus, the certificate is also available online for busy professionals, nomads, and online learners anywhere in the world.
MSU Professor Dr. Carrie Heeter is the founder and director of the graduate certificate in serious games. The online program was launched in the Fall of 2012, soon to be expecting its first batch of graduates this December. As the only graduate program focused specifically on serious games, the certificate is part of a suite of game-related undergraduate, MA, and PhD degree programs offered by MSU, one of the top-rated game development programs in the nation. Our faculty collaborate to design and study serious games and meaningful play in the Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) lab, adding an additional layer of understanding and expertise.
Our amazing, diverse serious game graduate certificate students include game industry professionals, business experts, and educators whose experience and participation help to create a vibrant and enthusiastic atmosphere. The result is a community of learners, where sharing of expertise and feedback in class discussions is welcome and strongly encouraged.
The certificate program itself is composed of three very hands-on, active learning courses in which the instructors encourage personalization of assignments in order to reach personal learning goals. Each of the courses is represented by a mascot:
Foundation Monster: What kinds of serious games are out there? How does the process of game development with a serious twist proceed?
Theory Ninja: Learn a diverse set of theories and implications for game mechanics to inform serious game design decisions.
User-Experience Wizard: Discover how to apply user experience design research methods to guide world-changing game design for real players.
You might be wondering “Mascots? Really? Why?” Games are about playfulness and fun, and this is one way to embody that. Our faculty shares the mascots’ vision and desire to change the world, believing that games are one way to achieve that while empowering students to do the same.
Created for learners who hope to change the world, the graduate certificate program in serious gaming prepares you to envision and plan games for learning, training, health, productivity, social change, and more. At the end of the day, game development is a team effort, and you will still need game designers. We teach you why and how to go about creating these games, including creative and effective ways to use existing digital games, experience brainstorming, conceptualizing, refining, and playtesting game concepts, and approaches to implementing serious games into your company or classes.
The courses are designed to be conceptual, theoretical and hands-on. We rely on active, project-based learning. We do not teach (or require) programming or art that is involved in digital game design. Instead we teach the added layer of knowledge that serious game design requires. After completing the program, you should feel confident discussing appropriate and feasible approaches to using serious games for change, understand the stages and processes of serious game design, be able to point to scientific theories explaining why specific games are good for learning or health, and know how to plan and use design research methods to help create and improve the player experience.
If while taking the certificate, you find that your interest in serious games and graduate education grows, which is not at all doubtful, the same three courses transfer over and count toward a Master’s in human-computer interaction offered at the MSU main campus, or a Master’s in Education Technology which can be completed online. As a certificate student, several paths will be available to develop your personal and professional goals. It’s up to you which to pursue, but the foundations should enrich and advance your horizons.
Have we sparked your curiosity? The deadline for the Spring Semester is fast approaching—November 15th. Feel free to look over the application requirements and program details here. If you have questions about the program, email Carrie (email@example.com).