How to Learn Game Development using Free Gamedev Courses

You don’t need to attend a video game design college to learn how to make games when there are so many free online courses that walk you through the entire game development process.

Of course there are a lot of specialties in game development, including programming, art, game mechanics designing, sound effects and music to name a few. In this article, we’re going to look at each section of game development and outline all the free courses for every game development discipline.

List of Free Gamedev Courses

The following article is meant to be a complete, up-to-date resource that lists every free courses for video game developers covering the basics of the entire video game industry. I’ve separated the courses by topic to make it easier to find the gamedev courses that you’re interested in.

Free game programming courses

Free Game Programming Courses

Video game college degrees are great, but they’re not for everyone. You should consider studying at your own pace, following these free courses for video game developers. If you’re completing new to programming, one of the best way to get started is by taking the free interactive courses at Codecademy. Try them all out and don’t be afraid to jump in at a certain point.

Free Gamedev Course Platform Description Free Certification? Expiration
Video Game Design and Development: Introduction to Game Programming This is a great free gamedev course suitable for beginners. The focus is exclusively on video game programming, but it is more about giving you a complete understanding of the concepts rather than practical hands-on programming tasks. This is the perfect course to take if you’re on the fence about learning game programming, because by the end of it, you will know the theory of game programming and can then decide to dive into the actual practice if it seems like something you’re into. No Unknown
Code Your First Game: Arcade Classic in JavaScript on Canvas Udemy Javascript may not be the language you think of when it comes to game programming, but it is one of the easiest programming languages for beginners to start using right away. This is part of what makes this course a great intro for anyone interested in gamedev. By the end of this free course you will have created your first functional video game in Javascript, which are skills you can take with you on whatever project you work on afterwards. No Unknown
Game Development with Phaser.JS

Learn how to make HTML5 games with Phaser.JS. The course is free, but exams and projects related to the course require a PRO account. No Unknown

Free Video Game Art Courses

These are all free courses on how to learn gamedev art and graphics. There are a lot of different styles of game art, depending on the game’s target platforms, budget, overall tone and artistic direction.

Free Game Art Courses Platform Description Free Certification? Expiration
Pixel Art for Video Games Michigan State University &
If you want to create pixel art for use in video games this course will walk you through the entire process. Yes 7/31/2020
Computer Graphics UC San Diego &
Don’t let the course name “Computer Graphics” throw you off, by the end of this you will know how to write shaders in GLSL and understand the foundational basics of how computer graphics work. This is a must take course for anyone who works with 3d modeling, shaders and texturing. No Unknown
Concept Art for Video Games Michigan State University &
Concept art positions are very critical in the game industry and this course will help you get your foot in the door by teaching you everything you need to know about creating compelling and useful concept art for games. Yes 7/31/2020
Low Poly Art For Video Games Michigan State University &
Low poly art is useful for style or performance, but there is an art and a science to making low-poly objects look compelling and professional. This course teaches you all the methodologies, tricks and tips to make beautiful low poly art for video games. Yes 7/31/2020
Current Gen 3D Game Prop Production Michigan State University &
The art of creating props for video games has a lot of intricacies to it that may not be obvious to outsiders. This course reveals all the production pipelines and skills needed to create beautiful and modern props for video games. Yes 7/31/2020
Character Design for Video Games California Institute of the Arts &
Games are diverse, which means learning the art of character development is extra hard because you need to be able to match the specific requirements for characters on projects that can have wildly different needs. This course is intended to give you the practical knowledge of how to create unique, compelling and game appropriate characters for modern video games. Yes 7/31/2020

Free Video Game Music & Audio Courses

The following free game audio courses focus mainly on game music. Creating music for video games is actually a bit different from traditional music making. For instance, a lot of games use dynamic soundtracks that add or remove sonic layers from the score depending on what the player is doing. This and other fundamental differences means that even seasoned musicians and audio engineers can benefit from learning about video game audio design.

Free Gamedev Course Platform Description Free Certification? Expiration
Video Game Design and Development: A Bit-by-Bit History of Video Game Music This course is about the history of video game music, exploring the progression of video game soundtracks in the 1980s. It lays some great groundwork for understanding why video game music sounded the way it did back then and how those early technical limitations forged a unique soundscape that is still used by indie game developers today. No Unknown
Soundtrack Composer Masterclass: Score Films and Video Games Alison This is a course about making appropriate soundtracks for movies and games. No Unknown

Other Free Game Development Courses

These are free gamedev courses that didn’t fit into any of the broader categories like programming or music. Although as I continue to add courses here it looks like I could have made a game design section.

Free Gamedev Course Platform Description Free Certification? Expiration
CS50’s Introduction to Game Development Harvard University &
This course starts with the basics like Mario and Pong and then uses that as a foundation to bring you up to speed with modern game development. By the end of the course you will have programmed several mini-games and have direct experience as a game developer. No Unknown
Introduction to Game Design MIT &
Engineering games requires a top to bottom design that plans the execution of your games mechanics in a fun and engaging way. This course from MIT covers the theory and practice of developing good game designs. No Unknown
Business of Games and Entrepreneurship Michigan State University &
Games are a giant industry and like any other business, it takes careful planning and execution to make enough profit to be able to make more games. This course is all about the economic realities of creating games by focusing on how games earn money and how to run a game development or publishing company for profit. Yes 7/31/2020
World Design for Video Games California Institute of Art &
This course is focused on the intracities of designing full and compelling game worlds. Yes 7/31/2020
Game Design Document: Define the Art & Concepts California Institute of Art &
The Game Design Document is the seed, guide and bible of your game. This course teaches you how to create a full GDD so that you are able to fully flesh out your game ideas into a complete game proposal. Yes 7/31/2020
Game Design and Development Capstone Michigan State University &
This course requires you to make a game design document and then build and complete the game you planned. That’s right, this course requires you to go the distance and complete an entire game! Yes 7/31/2020
Story and Narrative Development for Video Games California Institute of Art &
This course is all about writing stories for video games as well as developing appropriate narrative elements into the mechanics, props and world. Yes 7/31/2020
Principles of Game Design Michigan State University &
This is a foundational course that covers game design from the ground up. Topics include creating game concepts from scratch, prototyping, documenting, creating characters, narrative and worlds, including level and mechanics design. Yes 7/31/2020

Unity Free Unity Courses

These are free Unity courses that will help you learn how to make games using the Unity engine. This is one of the most popular game engines today because it is relatively simply to learn and allows you to create multi-platform games with relative ease (compared to the old days.)

Free Unity Course Platform Description Free Certification? Expiration
Introduction to video game development with Unity UPV &
This is a course that will take from a complete beginner in Unity to someone who knows exactly how to use each aspect of the engine to create full games. No Unknown
Creating Virtual Reality (VR) Apps UC San Diego &
This free VR course teaches you how to create your own virtual reality game and other apps using the Unity 3d engine. No Unknown
Unity 3d | Using Light and Shadow in Game Development Udemy This free course is all about mastering lighting and shadows in Unity 3d scenes. Apparently this course is a bit outdated at this point, but still has some relevant content for those new to lighting and shadows in Unity. No Unknown
Intermediate Object-Oriented Programming for Unity Games University of Colorado &
For those who already know the basics of C# and Unity game development, this course ramps things up and takes it to the next level. Yes 7/31/2020
Game Development for Modern Platforms Michigan State University &
This course is focused on using Unity to make multi-platform games. Yes 7/31/2020
Rapid Gameplay Prototyping Unity &
Make playable builds out of your ideas quickly with this rapid prototyping course intended to make you a Unity expert. Yes 7/31/2020
C# Programming for Unity Game Development Capstone Project University of Colorado &
This is the capstone course on C# programming for Unity. This is a great course to take after you’ve passed beginner and intermediate courses on C# and Unity and are ready to move onto expert level courses. Yes 7/31/2020
Introduction to C# Programming and Unity University of Colorado &
This is a great introduction to Unity and programming games using C# that walks you through all the basics and gets you comfortable with C# coding in MonoDevelop or Visual Studio. Yes 7/31/2020
Unity Certified Programmer Exam Preparation Specialization Unity &
This is a set of 4 courses created by Unity that is designed to walk you through all the skills and information you need to learn to become Unity Certified. Yes 7/31/2020
Unity Certified 3D Artist Specialization Unity &
You may be wondering why this is located in the Unity section instead of the art section, and that is because this set of 5 courses is all about the Unity asset production pipeline. This means you can expect to learn how to take your game art and import it into Unity. Completing this coursework will allow you to become a Unity Certified 3D Artist. Yes 7/31/2020
More C# Programming and Unity Unity &
After getting ahold of the basics of C# programming and Unity, this course moves forward with some more basic and a few intermediate subjects. Yes 7/31/2020
Performance Optimization in Unity Unity &
Creating a game in Unity without an eye on optimization is a road to disaster. This course will help you avoid that disaster by teaching you all the performance bottlenecks, how to optimize your game assets and how to squeeze extra performance by working smarter. I recommend all Unity developers take this course. Yes 7/31/2020
Data Structures and Design Patterns for Game Developers University of Colorado &
This course is meant for intermediate or better Unity developers and focuses on efficient and fast data structures, storage and design patterns. Yes 7/31/2020

Free Gamedev YouTube Tutorials

There are tons of good YouTube game development tutorials. I’ve linked to channels or playlists only in this section.

YouTube GameDev Tutorials Platform Description
Brackeys (Unity Tutorials) YouTube Hands down the best Unity tutorials on YouTube. There are tutorials for virtually every basic and intermediate subjects.
Grant Abbitt (Blender Tutorials) YouTube Some of the best and easiest to follow Blender tutorials.
Unity (Learn Unity Tutorials) YouTube The official Unity 3d YouTube channel. I’ve linked directly to their “Learn Unity” series of playlists.
Sebastian Lague Tutorials YouTube Some interesting videos on Blender and Unity. Some of them are getting out-of-date at this point, but are still usable and relevant.
SpeedTutor (Unity Tutorials) YouTube Covers virtually all Unity subjects and has done several multi-part series.
Unity Guruz (Unity Tutorials) YouTube Does a great job of exploring new features and making Unity tutorials.
Jayanam (Blender & Unity Tutorials) YouTube A bunch of in-depth Blender and Unity tutorials.
Danny Mac 3D (Blender Character Tutorials) YouTube A bunch of tutorials on character creation using Blender.
GameDevHQ (Unity Tutorials) YouTube Coding, level design and feature tutorials on Unity.
Awesome Tuts (Unreal & Unity Tutorials) YouTube Tons of tutorials on Unreal and Unity engines.
Charger Games (Unity Tutorials) YouTube Unity tutorial series with a strong bent towards Android development.
Unity Game Programming For Beginners (Unity Tutorials) YouTube This is a relatively young channel but it is off to a good start. The tutorials focus on completing games a certain type and are meant for Unity beginners.
Infallible Code (Unity Tutorials) YouTube Some intermediate and higher level Unity programming tutorials.
Jason Weimann (Unity Tutorials) YouTube Unity tutorials for beginners and experts. In fact, I suggest anyone using Unity subscribe to this channel.
Dilmer Valecillos (Unity VR & AR Tutorials) YouTube Full VR and AR tutorials for Unity. Also focuses on other areas of indiedev, but XR content is the main focus.
learningasidraw (Art Tutorials) YouTube While this isn’t totally focused on gamedev, it is focused on digital art which can be applied towards video game art.
CS50’s Introduction to Game Development YouTube Lua game development tutorials.
Gamefromscratch YouTube Very diverse channel covering a ton of different gamedev topics.
Extra Credits YouTube Not tutorials per-se but instead some philosophical deep-dives into game development topics.
Devslopes (Unreal Tutorials) YouTube A playlist focusing on Unreal Engine tutorials.

Free Non-English Gamedev Courses

Here are free gamedev courses that are presented in a langauge other than English.

Free Gamedev Course Platform Description Free Certification? Expiration
Come creare un videogioco Platform [ITA] – Senza codici Udemy This free Italiano gamedev course teaches you how to create a browser based game for desktop or mobile from scratch. No Unknown
Conhecendo a Área de Jogos Digitais Udemy This free Português gamedev course teaches you how to create interactive digital entertainment and explores the facets and genres of video games. No Unknown
retr0의 유니티 클리커 게임 한방에 개발하기 Udemy This free 한국어 gamedev course teaches you how to create a clicker style game in the Unity 3d engine. No Unknown

Video game design degree programs are ideal for people who are beginning their careers, or interested in expanding their horizons into new areas, but they are not mandatory unless the job you’re applying for demands it. The reality is that skills pay the bills, so go out there and learn how to make the game of your dreams.

If you liked this article, be sure to share it on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for reading, please let me know in the comments if I missed any free game dev courses and I will add them to the list.

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