Art and Design: Games and Playable Media B.A.

Information and Policies

Introduction

The Art and Design: Games and Playable Media (AGPM) Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree at UC Santa Cruz focuses on the creation of novel game systems, spaces, and configurations that can produce broad ranges of player experiences, for a wide variety of purposes. It does this through:

  • courses in related theory, history, and critical interpretation;
  • courses that take a practice-based approach to experimental game creation;
  • courses that provide a foundation in working with game media forms;
  • courses that provide a foundation in working with game technical materials.

This degree complements the Computer Science: Computer Game Design (CGD) Bachelor of Science (B.S.), which focuses particularly on the technical materials. The B.A. focuses more on experience design (in particular) as well as on history, theory, and media creation—while still taking advantage of courses developed for the B.S. and creating a shared community with those students.

Students in the AGPM major learn to understand game design as an art in and of itself, positioned within the context of a number of more disciplinary approaches. Furthermore, students understand game design as a practice of creation, within a much larger and deeper social and historical context.

The AGPM B.A. in the Arts Division ensures that students have the needed programming skills, and equally importantly, that they meld such technical skills with critical and historical understanding, which is essential for the production of socially conscious, inclusive, and emotionally engaging games.

Upper-division studio courses require coursework to be completed on computers. All students in the B.A. program are strongly encouraged to own a laptop computer. This expense is separate from the cost of tuition and other fees.

While pursuing coursework in the major, all students are to encouraged to build portfolios that showcase their growing body of work, with an emphasis on material from courses such as ARTG 80I, CMPM 80K, and ARTG 120, and CMPM 120.

Academic Advising for the Program

Please refer to the AGPM advising page for the most up-to-date information on drop-in hours and appointments.

You can reach the AGPM office via phone by calling (831) 459-1554.

If you are a prospective junior transfer hoping to join AGPM, please be sure to carefully read the section below on Transfer Information and Policy.

Getting Started in the Major

Students interested in entering the Art & Design: Games & Playable Media (AGPM) program as frosh can do so as long as they are admitted into UC Santa Cruz.

Incoming frosh do not need to satisfy any programming or art requirements prior to arriving at UCSC.

While frosh may not need to satisfy specific requirements, they are urged to make games—using any materials, from Javascript to cardboard—and carefully study game systems. Developing an arts practice in any medium is also helpful, including drawing, writing, music, sculpture, filmmaking, and others. Finally, deepening your understanding of technology is good preparation, including computer programming, participating in maker groups, or whatever else grabs your interest.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students who earn a B.A. in Art and Design: Games and Playable Media gain the skills, knowledge, and understanding that enable them to:

Program Learning Outcomes (PLO)
PLO 1:
Demonstrate understanding of the connections between technical commitments and game system design, on one hand, and player experience and cultural communication goals, on the other.

PLO 2: Demonstrate the ability to define, develop, and communicate artistically innovative game ideas—situated historically and employing the methods of multiple art practices.

PLO 3: Demonstrate the ability to design and build a technical system in response to an artistic goal for audience experience that employs a fundamental understanding of algorithms and data structures.

PLO 4: Demonstrate an understanding of game history and interpretation sufficient to do independent research on a topic, identify relevant games and secondary literature, think critically about a particular games-related topic, and make a convincing, research-based argument about games.

PLO 5: Demonstrate the ability to collaboratively plan, organize, and execute complex, team-oriented projects, using appropriate communication and coordination techniques.

PLO 6: Demonstrate the ability to effectively use techniques for understanding how players experience a game system, and to compare this with a project's artistic goals—then successfully iterate and revise project shape, scope, and function based on external feedback and personal/team constraints.

Major Qualification Policy and Declaration Process

Major Qualification

Prior to declaring the AGPM major, students must complete the following Major Qualification courses with a grade of C or better (these courses can also be taken as Pass/No Pass):

ARTG 80HCritical History of Digital Games

5

ARTG 80IFoundations of Play

5

CMPM 80KFoundations of Video Game Design

5

Either this course

CMPM 35Data Structures for Interactive Media

5

or this course

CSE 101Introduction to Data Structures and Algorithms

5

Note: CMPM 35 and CSE 101 have computer science and mathematics prerequisites that are not considered in the major declaration process. Grades in these courses are not considered for qualification.

Students receiving a C-, D+, D, D-, F or NP in one of the major qualification courses or associated labs may only declare once they have passed the same or equivalent course or lab with a grade of C or better.

Students need to complete these major qualification courses early in their studies so that the petition to major status is accomplished by the end of their sophomore year.

Appeal Process

Students who are informed that they are not eligible to declare the major may appeal this decision by submitting a letter to the department chair within 15 days from the date the notification was mailed. Within 15 days of receipt of the appeal, the department will notify the student and college of the decision. Appeals should be emailed to the AGPM adviser.

How to Declare a Major

Students that have successfully passed all of the major qualification courses complete and sign the major declaration petition form and email it to the AGPM adviser.

Transfer Information and Policy

Transfer Admission Screening Policy

In preparation for transfer to AGPM, students are required to demonstrate proficiency in programming, visual art, and game design. Complete the following courses:

Minimum grade of C (2.0) in courses articulated to UCSC’s Computer Science and Engineering
CSE 30Programming Abstractions: Python

7

Students entering UCSC through fall 2021 also have the option to use a course articulated to CSE 15/CSE 15L (previously offered for this requirement as CMPS 12B/M, Introduction to Data Structures).

Minimum grade of C (2.0) in two courses articulated to courses in the following list:
ART 15Introduction to Drawing for the Major

5

ART 20Any course in the ART 20 series

ARTG 80GVisual Communication and Interaction Design

5

ARTG 80HCritical History of Digital Games

5

ARTG 80IFoundations of Play

5

CMPM 25Introduction to 3D Modeling

5

CMPM 26Introduction to 3D Animation

5

CMPM 80KFoundations of Video Game Design

5

FILM 20PIntroduction to Production Technique

5

MUSC 1CUniversity Concert Choir

2

MUSC 2University Orchestra

2

MUSC 3Large Jazz Ensemble

2

MUSC 5AWest Javanese Gamelan Ensemble: Beginning

2

MUSC 5BWest Javanese Gamelan Ensemble: Intermediate

2

MUSC 5CWest Javanese Gamelan Ensemble: Advanced

2

MUSC 6Classical Guitar Ensemble

2

MUSC 8ABeginning Balinese Gamelan

2

MUSC 8BAdvanced Balinese Gamelan

2

MUSC 9Wind Ensemble

2

MUSC 10Eurasian Ensemble

2

THEA 10Introduction to Theater Design and Technology

5

THEA 14Drawing

5

THEA 15Special Topics in Textiles

5

THEA 17Costume Construction

5

THEA 18Drafting for Theatrical Production

5

THEA 19Design Studio: Lighting Studio A

5

THEA 20Introductory Studies in Acting

5

THEA 21Acting Studio I: Psychological Realism

5

THEA 22Indonesian Dance and Drama

5

THEA 30Introduction to Dance Theory and Technique

5

THEA 31CDance Studio I: Contemporary Dance Theory and Technique

5

THEA 33CDance Studio I

5

THEA 36Introduction to Dance Composition

5

THEA 37African Dance

5

THEA 40Introduction to Directing

5

THEA 50Fundamentals of Theater Production

2

THEA 80ZIndian Dance

5

Additional Suggested Courses

Students are highly encouraged to complete all general education requirements before coming to UC Santa Cruz.

Transfer students who meet the requirements above and complete general education requirements will be able to complete the major in two years as shown in the academic plan in the Planners section of the Requirements and Planners tab on this page. Because of the number of credits required by the B.A., transfer students who have general education requirements remaining may need to take summer session courses and/or additional courses over the academic year to allow graduation in two years. If a student meets the requirements for major qualification but cannot complete general education requirements, taking community college courses that are articulated for credit with courses in the Foundational Courses and lower-division “Arts Requirements and Electives” courses listed in the Requirements and Planners tab  is recommended.

Getting Started at UCSC as a Transfer Student

Transfer students are strongly advised to attend a UCSC Summer Orientation session for transfer students. Transfer students should consult with an AGPM academic adviser prior to enrolling in classes to determine their status and to begin the declaration of major process as soon as possible.

Please see a recommended academic plan for junior transfer students in the Planners section of the Requirements and Planners tab on this page.

Letter Grade Policy

All courses used to satisfy any of the Art and Design: Games and Playable Media major requirements can be taken for a letter grade or as Pass/No Pass. This includes both introductory lower-division and advanced upper-division requirements, and with the major qualification courses. A grade of "Pass" is equivalent to meeting the requirement of "C or better" in the Major Qualification policy.

Course Substitution Policy

Students are able to petition a course to count as a substitute for any given elective requirement via the AGPM Course Substitution Petition form. Once submitted, requests are reviewed by the program chair. After they come to a decision, the AGPM adviser will reach out to the student and let them know whether their petition was approved or not. 

Double Majors and Major/Minor Combinations Policy

Students may choose to do a double major or minor along with the AGPM program, but are advised that AGPM has a high number of course requirements. As a result students may be required to petition for a later graduation date in order to complete a double major or minor.

Requirements and Planners

Course Requirements

The AGPM major requires a minimum of eight lower-division and 11 upper-division courses in residence and satisfaction of the senior comprehensive requirement.

Lower-Division Courses

Foundational Courses

Complete the following six courses:

ARTG 80HCritical History of Digital Games

5

ARTG 80IFoundations of Play

5

CMPM 80KFoundations of Video Game Design

5

CSE 20Beginning Programming in Python

5

CSE 30Programming Abstractions: Python

7

AND

Either this course

CMPM 35Data Structures for Interactive Media

5

or this course

CSE 101Introduction to Data Structures and Algorithms

5

Notes: 
CSE 101 has computer science and mathematics prerequisites.
• Students with prior programming experience, AP credit, or who test out of CSE 20 can start with CSE 30.

Film and Digital Media 80V

Complete the following course:

FILM 80VVideo Games as Visual Culture

5

Lower Division Arts Elective

Complete one lower-division course from the following:

(Check with the Art Department and the General Catalog for restrictions or prerequisites on art courses.)

ART 10D2D Foundation

5

ART 10E3D Foundation

5

ART 10F4D Foundation

5

ARTG 80GVisual Communication and Interaction Design

5

MUSC 1CUniversity Concert Choir

2

MUSC 2University Orchestra

2

MUSC 3Large Jazz Ensemble

2

MUSC 5AWest Javanese Gamelan Ensemble: Beginning

2

MUSC 5BWest Javanese Gamelan Ensemble: Intermediate

2

MUSC 5CWest Javanese Gamelan Ensemble: Advanced

2

MUSC 6Classical Guitar Ensemble

2

MUSC 8ABeginning Balinese Gamelan

2

MUSC 8BAdvanced Balinese Gamelan

2

MUSC 9Wind Ensemble

2

MUSC 10Eurasian Ensemble

2

MUSC 80LArtificial Intelligence and Music

5

THEA 14Drawing

5

THEA 15Special Topics in Textiles

5

THEA 17Costume Construction

5

THEA 18CDrafting-Computer Aided

5

THEA 19Design Studio: Lighting Studio A

5

THEA 20Introductory Studies in Acting

5

THEA 21Acting Studio I: Psychological Realism

5

THEA 22Indonesian Dance and Drama

5

THEA 30Introduction to Dance Theory and Technique

5

THEA 31CDance Studio I: Contemporary Dance Theory and Technique

5

THEA 33CDance Studio I

5

THEA 36Introduction to Dance Composition

5

THEA 37African Dance

5

THEA 40Introduction to Directing

5

THEA 50Fundamentals of Theater Production

2

THEA 80ZIndian Dance

5

History of Art and Visual Culture Requirement

Complete any one 5-credit History of Art and Visual Culture (HAVC) course. This can be either a lower- or upper-division course.

Upper-Division Courses

Game Design Requirements

Complete all the following courses:

CMPM 120Game Development Experience

5

ARTG 120Game Design Experience

5

ARTG 170Game Design Studio I

5

ARTG 171Game Design Studio II

7

ARTG 172Game Design Studio III

7

Electives

Media Creation Electives

Check with course home departments and catalog for availability, prerequisites, or enrollment restrictions. ART courses may have restrictions or prerequisites. FILM courses have prerequisites and/or require an application, and are generally restricted to Film and Digital Media majors. MUSC courses are restricted to students in the electronic music minor, who will fulfill all of their media creation electives through the courses required for that minor.

Complete four courses from the following courses (note: completion of CMPM 25 and CMPM 26 counts as one Media Creation elective):

ART 101Introduction to Computer Programming for the Arts

5

ART 102Interactive Arts

5

ART 103Interactive Art: Object, Interface, Robotics

5

ART 104Digital Video

5

ART 106A2D Animation

5

ART 106E3D Modeling and Animation

5

ART 108New Media and Social Practice Artmaking

5

ARTG 118Digital Drawing/Painting for Game Design

5

ARTG 129Special Topicsin Game Design

5

CMPM 25Introduction to 3D Modeling

5

CMPM 26Introduction to 3D Animation

5

CMPM 150Creating Digital Audio

5

DANM 140
/ART 105
Introduction to 3D Printing, Laser Cutting, and More

5

FILM 170AFundamentals of Digital Media Production

5

FILM 171DSocial Information Spaces

5

FILM 173Narrative Digital Media Workshop

5

FILM 177Digital Media Workshop: Computer as Medium

5

FILM 179ASpecial Topics in Animation

5

FILM 179BDocumentary Animation Workshop

5

FILM 189Advanced Topics in Digital and Electronic Media Studies

5

MUSC 123Electronic Sound Synthesis

5

MUSC 124Intermediate Electronic Sound Synthesis

5

MUSC 125Advanced Electronic Sound Synthesis

5

MUSC 167Workshop in Electronic Music

2

THEA 104Multimedia Authoring

5

THEA 106
/ART 146T
Digital Illustration

5

THEA 114Sound Design and Engineering for the Theater

5

THEA 117
/ART 147T
Design Studio: Costume

5

THEA 124Movement for Performers

5

THEA 157Playwriting

5

THEA 159Advanced Playwriting

5

DANM 220Introduction to Programming for the Arts

5

ARTG 118, ARTG 129: may be repeated for credit

Completion of CMPM 25 AND CMPM 26 counts as one Media Creation elective.

DANM 140 also offered as ART 105

FILM 170A, FILM 189: Prerequisite is FILM 20C or CSE 101 or CSE 111

FILM 171D, FILM 173, FILM 177: Prerequisite is FILM 170A

FILM 179A, FILM 179B: By application. Recommended prerequisite is FILM 170A

THEA 117 also offered as ART 147T

Game Design/Human-Computer Interaction Electives

CMPM and CSE courses may have restrictions or prerequisites.

Complete two of the following:

DANM 219Introduction to Electronics for Artmaking

5

CMPM 131User Experience for Interactive Media

5

CMPM 146Game AI

5

CMPM 147Generative Design

5

CMPM 148Interactive Storytelling

5

CMPM 151Algorithmic Music for Games

5

CMPM 163Game Graphics and Real-Time Rendering

5

CMPM 176Game Systems

5

CMPM 177Creative Strategies for Designing Interactive Media

5

CMPM 178Human-Centered Design Research

5

CMPM 179
/ARTG 179
Game Design Practicum

5

CSE 118Mobile Applications

5

CSE 183Web Applications

5

CMPM 179 also offered as ARTG 179; may be repeated for credit

Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement

Students of every major must satisfy that major's upper-division disciplinary communication (DC) requirement. The DC requirement in Art and Design: Games and Playable Media is satisfied by completing:

ARTG 170Game Design Studio I

5

Comprehensive Requirement

Students satisfy the senior comprehensive requirement by receiving a passing grade in all three courses of the game design studio sequence (ARTG 170, ARTG 171, and ARTG 172). This sequence will meet in collaboration with CMPM 170, CMPM 171, and CMPM 172.

ARTG 170Game Design Studio I

5

ARTG 171Game Design Studio II

7

ARTG 172Game Design Studio III

7

Planners

The following is a recommended academic plan for students to complete during their first two years as preparation for the AGPM major.

Art and Design: Games and Playable Media B.A. Planner

  Fall Winter Spring Summer
1st (frosh) ARTG 80I CMPM 80K CSE 20  
^MATH 3, Precalculus   HAVC elective      
       
2nd (soph) CSE 30 CMPM 35 CMPM 120*  
 ARTG 80H  FILM 80V  ARTG 120*  
 Lower-division arts elective**      
3rd (junior) Media Creation elective 1        Media Creation elective 2        Media Creation elective 3      
GD & HCI elective 1      GD & HCI elective 2      Media Creation elective 4         
       
4th (senior) ARTG 170 ARTG 171 ARTG 172  
       
       

^ The prerequisite for CSE 30 can be satisfied in any of the following ways: successfully passing MATH 3, MATH 11A, MATH 19A, AM 3, AM 11A/ECON 11A, or a score of 400 or higher on the mathematics placement examination.

* ARTG and CMPM 120 are also offered during the summer. 
** We highly recommend that students enroll in ARTG 80G for their LD Arts Elective course. 

In addition to the specific courses shown in the four-year planner, a student must complete courses satisfying the CC, ER, SR, SI, and TA general education requirements.
 

Transfer Students Planner

  Fall Winter Spring Summer
1st (junior) Lower-division arts elective** CMPM 35 CMPM 120*  
ARTG 80H CMPM 80K     ARTG 120*  
ARTG 80I FILM 80V Media Creation elective 1      
2nd (senior) ARTG 170 ARTG 171 ARTG 172  
GD & HCI elective 1     GD & HCI elective 2   Media Creation elective 3  
HAVC elective     Media Creation elective 2     Media Creation elective 4      

The two-year planner assumes that a student has completed all general education requirements before coming to UCSC.