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Game Design FAQ

Are you a passionate gamer?

Two new programmes pioneered in collaboration between Digital Arts and Electrical and Information Engineering offer you the opportunity to work with what you love. Game design brings together the creative as well as the technical aspects of game creation. Both of these elements can be studied at Wits through these uniquely collaborative Game Design courses.

What is Game Design?

Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman explain the discipline of game design really well. They say that:
The focus of a game designer is designing game play, conceiving and designing rules and structures that result in an experience for players. Thus game design, as a discipline, requires a focus on games in and of themselves.

Creating a game requires a variety of skills, stretching from the technical development and programming to the creative disciplines of illustration, animation, writing, and sound design. Game design is at the heart of all these disciplines. It is the creation of the system and mechanics of a game, and the point where the disciplines intersect to create something great.

This multidisciplinary nature is why the Game Design courses will be offered to students from both the School of Electrical and Information Engineering and the Wits School of Arts.

What will we be doing in the Game Design Courses?

The core Game Design courses have a strong practical component, but also seek to emphasise a solid academic grounding in the field. You will learn about game history and theory; game mechanics; programming; puzzle design; level design; character design; and many more elements of games.

Each theoretical element is underlined by a practical project. A key focus of the course is the development of a portfolio of both analogue and digital games with which you can approach industry. You will be building games from day one!

Why would you want to study Game Design at Wits?

Game development is a massive international industry. At Wits we are working closely with the game development community, keeping our fingers on the pulse of the industry as it takes shape here in Africa and internationally. Game Design at Wits offers an exciting opportunity for collaboration between the technological and creative aspects of the field. A familiarity and fluency in the elements of game development provides students with a solid base from which to either pursue a career as a designer, or to specialise in one of the key fields of game creation be it in the creative disciplines or the technical arena.

Building Jozi Traffic – from brainstorm to prototype

Degrees with Game Design

The Game Design courses can be taken in two separate degrees:
Catering for aspirant developers is a new degree hosted in the School of Electrical and Information Engineering. It is a 3 year degree called a Bachelor of Engineering Science in Digital Art – BEngSc (Digital Art)
For students interested in creative production there is the Bachelor of Arts in Performing and Visual Arts majoring in Game Design – BA PVA (Game Design) which is hosted in the Wits School of Arts. Students in both programmes take the Game Design courses together. Within this multidisciplinary arena you will become familiar with many areas within game creation, while still having the opportunity to specialise in your own field of interest.


Degree Code: EF 0003
This three year degree is intended to produce graduates that can become specialist practitioners in the technological arena of software development within a game context. You will attend half of your courses in the School of Electrical and Information Engineering. Here you will do Physics, Maths, Electric Circuits, Software Development, and Electromagnetic Systems with Game Design as the core subject. This degree aims to give you an introduction into both the hardware and software environments.
On completion of the degree you may wish to further your studies by pursuing an Honours in Digital Arts or by entering into the 3rd year of a professional Electrical and Information Engineering degree.


Degree Code: AF 0008
The BA PVA (majoring in Game Design) is intended to produce graduates that can become specialist practitioners in the creative areas of game production.
Falling under the auspices of the BA PVA degree, you would have the opportunity to select subjects that complement you Game Design major, tailoring you choice to their own individual artistic interests. Some exciting options include Design and Drawing, Writing, English, Psychology, Philosophy and many more.

Hunter/Hunted, one of the first games prototyped in 2012

What are the entry requirements?

The entry requirements differ for the two degrees. All applicants for the Game Design programmes are required to submit a critical essay for evaluation before being invited to an interview. Based on the essay, candidates will be invited to an interview. If invited for an interview applicants should be prepared to answer several questions regarding their perceptions of Game Design, Games and Play.
Final places are offered only after all matric results have been received and are dependent on academic performance and the applicants APS.
The full Admission Point Score (APS) table and explanation can be found here: Admission Reruirements


36 APS points
English HL or 1st Add Lang – minimum scale of achievement APS 4 – likely scale of achievement APS 5
Mathematics – minimum scale of achievement APS 5 – likely scale of achievement APS 6
Physical Science – minimum scale of achievement APS 5 – likely scale of achievement APS 6
Due to the limited number of places available meeting the likely acceptance level does not guarantee admission.


34 Wits APS points
English HL or 1st Add Lang – minimum scale of achievement APS 5 – likely scale of achievement APS 6
Students majoring in Game Design must select either ‘Design or Drawing’ or ‘Writing’ as an additional subject. Based on subject preference, the applicant needs to prepare the following submission.

    • Writing: A creative piece of writing 2-3 typed pages long that shows your ability as a writer and storyteller. The piece can be a short story, a 1 act play, or a short film or game script.
    • or

  • Design and Drawing: Present a portfolio of creative drawings in any medium. There are no size or quantity requirements but it should give the lecturer a good idea of your capabilities.

How many people will be accepted?

There are 30 places in the course. 15 will be admitted from the BEngSc degree and 15 from the BA PVA. Admission into the course will therefore be highly competitive. But remember: it is always worth trying!

Screenshot from a prototype by Michael de Jager, a Masters student in Digital Arts

How do I apply?

The closing date for applications is 31 August 2012
Financial aid applications also close on 31 August 2012
Residence applications close on the 31 August 2012

Go to the Student Enrolment Page on the Wits Website

Here you will find all the necessary forms and instructions to apply, either through a traditional paper application form, or online.

When you fill in your forms, you will need the degree code.
For the Bachelor of Engineering Science in Digital Art – BEngSc – (Digital Art) you apply for the Bachelor of Science Engineering (Electrical) with the Degree Code: EF 0003
For the Bachelor of Arts in Performing and Visual Arts – BA PVA (majoring in Game Design) you apply for the Bachelor of Arts in Performing and Visual Arts with the Degree Code: AF 0008

Once you have submitted your application you will be contacted to determine if you have specifically applied for Game Design. If you don’t hear from anyone about this, please contact us make sure they find you.

If you have any questions about the application process contact the Student Enrolment Centre. They are best placed to help you.
Student Enrolment Centre
Tel: (011) 717-1030
E-mail: Admission.Senc@wits.ac.za

Students applying for the Bachelor of Arts in Performing and Visual Arts – BA PVA (majoring in Game Design) are also welcome to contact
Charlotte Fraser – Wits School of Arts Student Liaison Officer
First Floor, Wits School of Arts
Telephone 27 (11) 717 4656
Fax 27 (11) 339 7601
Email charlotte.fraser@wits.ac.za

A group of First Year students play-testing their board game

What are the fees?

Each degree has a different fee structure but all students would be required to pay the Game Design Lab Fee. The fees are adjusted annually.

Fee information is available from:
Fees for 2012
For information relating to Financial Aid and Scholarships go to:
Financial Aid

For any questions, or if you would like to discuss the programmes further contact:

Hanli Geyser
011 717 4687

Wits Jam-tarts

Game Jams with a difference!

Come experience the fun of a Game Jam hosted by Wits Digital Arts. We’re even encouraging the creation of non-digital games, so those with no programming experience can still participate.

Game Jams are held quarterly, so keep an eye on Game Jam Tarts for updates.

Screenshots from games made during a 24 hour game jam held on campus