Featured Course

Designing Mobile Apps for Games

It’s an app, app, app, app world

If you’re reading this, chances are good you’ve already downloaded Super Mario Run, Nintendo’s latest game that finally brings the Japanese game giant’s platforming mascot to iOS (and soon to Android) devices.

Super Mario Run is just the latest mobile game to capture the public’s imagination—it joins other cultural touchstones as Pokémon Go, Temple Run and Angry Birds. And judging from the App Store’s game-heavy bestsellers list, it won’t be the last.

But when when your game is literally one of several billion apps that a user can download, how does any one project stand out?

ArtCenter alumnus Jeremy Steiner (BFA 04 Illustration), a senior UI/UX designer at Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media and the instructor of ArtCenter at Night’s new introductory course Designing Mobile Apps for Games, believes his background in illustration development and concept art give him a leg up on the competition.

“When it comes to apps, you’re developing a product that can potentially change the world,” says Steiner, pointing out that apps are a new product or IP that require users to act or do something in a new way. “Look at the most popular apps like Facebook and Twitter, and you’ll see that flat design is very popular right now, because it all comes down to usability.”

That same approach doesn’t necessarily lend itself to games, says Steiner, whose recent projects include Disney Mix, Disney Emoji Blitz and Disney Enchanted Tales. “My class if definitely going to address experience and usability, but I want my students to make sure their interface matches the product,” he says, pointing out that visual development and concept art is equally important when it comes to games. “If a flat interface makes sense, go for it, but if not, it’s going to take extra work to get things just right.”

Exploring principles and techniques necessary to approach apps for games, Designing Mobile Apps for Games students will research and compose wireframes and storyboards, give pitch presentations, design user interface art, and create a simple prototype on an iOS device.

Over the duration of the 14 weeks, students will take their ideas from rough pencil sketches to finished interactive mockups. And though Steiner says he’d prefer his students focus on creating a casual, simple experience, he says he’ll be open to all sorts of possibilities.

“They can choose to concentrate on interface design, concept illustration art, or making a prototype,” says Steiner. “It’s really wide open in terms of what students can create.”

Designing Apps for Mobile Games is just one of the more than 150 college-level courses and workshops in design and the visual arts offered through ArtCenter at Night. Taught by practicing artists and designers, the program’s courses are designed to help students acquire the knowledge and expertise they need to thrive in their careers, or take the next step toward their educational goals.