The UCLA Game Lab is an internationally renowned creative research center that approaches game development and design as a discipline that combines technology and the arts.

Founded in 2009 by artist and game designer Eddo Stern, a professor in the Department of Design Media Arts, the lab is sponsored by the School of the Arts and Architecture and the School of Theater, Film and Television.

The lab’s mission is to foster the production of various game forms and game-related research along three areas of focus:

In the Game Lab’s Summer Institute Program, you will have the opportunity to develop the fundamental skills required to create games and game art that express a personal and subjective approach to game making.



During the two-week program, the UCLA Game Lab Summer Institute will introduce high school students to the art and technology of game development through a four-course curriculum.

In week one, Game Design Fundamentals is paired with Character Design and Animation for Games. The skills learned in these courses prove foundational for week two’s courses, Building Game Worlds and Programming and Developing Mobile Games.

Game Design Fundamentals

This section focuses on the fundamentals of game design for tabletop game forms. Through in-lab instruction, students will learn the essential elements of making compelling games, such as meaningful player choice, multiplayer dynamics, chance, and rule design. The final project will be a board or card game built around a personal experience or point of view.

Character Design and Animation

Games give us avatars to control; this section provides an introduction in how to create playable characters through 3D modeling and animation. Students will use Maya, a state-of-the-art 3D modeling and animation application, to learn essential 3D skills like rigging, weight painting, UV mapping, modeling, and animation.

World Building

Videogames rely on worldbuilding to give game environments narrative potential and playful motivation. In this section, students will create a game environment in the Unity3D game engine and fill it with environmental elements such as buildings, plants, terrain, and lighting. The end result will be a navigable environment that expresses the creative decisions of each student.

Programming and Developing
Mobile Games

The last section guides students through the process of creating a playable game for a mobile device. Using p5.js, students will build a videogame, playtest the results, and make refinements as part of an iterative design process. Students will engage with specific coding exercises, which will introduce them to the fundamentals of programming for games.

Daily Schedule

Each day is divided into two classes: a morning class from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and an afternoon class from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. During each class, students receive one-on-one instruction and work individually and in groups to develop their own projects. Experts from the field are invited to give guest lectures and provide input on students’ works.

Lunch is from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Students must bring money to purchase their own lunch.

Evening Activities

The program offers many extra-curricular activities, including guest lectures from indepent game developers as well as extended lab hours for work time.

Final Exhibition and Closing Reception.

The two-week program culminates in a final exhibition of students' works and a closing reception. This event is held on the last day of the program, Friday, August 4, from 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. Parents are encouraged to attend.

Grades and Transcripts

UCLA Game Lab Summer Institute students earn four quarter units of UC credit on a pass/no pass grading basis. Official transcripts must be ordered; they are not automatically sent to students. More information on grading policies and transcripts can be found on the UCLA Summer Sessions Website.


The UCLA Game Lab Summer Institute curriculum is developed by Eddo Stern, Director of the UCLA Game Lab and professor in the Design Media Arts Department. It is based on materials covered in the UCLA Design Media Arts department's undergraduate curriculum. Instructors for the UCLA Game Lab Summer Institute are graduate students and alumni of the UCLA Game Lab.


Application Requirements

The Game Lab Summer Institute is designed for students in grades 9-12. The program is first-come, first-served.


Program Fee* $2045
Documentation Fee** $50
IEI Fee *** $61

*All fees subject to change by action of the UC Regents.

**Summer-only students will be assessed a one-time document fee during their first summer term; summer-only students will not be subject to the document fee any following summer terms.

*** The IEI fee is a course materials fee that is charged in order to support the use of technology in education at UCLA.

Day 1 - Game Lab High School Summer Institute


For questions about the program, please contact:

UCLA Game Lab Summer Institute Info
Email: summer.institute@games.ucla.edu