Sega screen in Kyoto
Kyoto, Japan

Video Game Design

Summer '25 Applications Open




3 weeks



Application Deadline

Enroll Now

Request Information



3 weeks



Application Deadline

Enroll Now

Request Information

Program Overview
Power up your imagination for video games in the ancient capital of Japan.

Enter the various levels of the gaming world in Kyoto. Through hands-on classes, get an inside look at how video games are made. In just three weeks, learn the basics of storyboarding, coding, and animation. Then, create a prototype for a new video game and present it to a panel of industry experts!

Hear from engineers and designers from world-class gaming institutions, like Nintendo and Capcom. Tour video game schools, like the Ritsumeikan Center for Game Studies, and independent gaming studios to get feedback on your project. Understand the processes of effective game design and how experts leverage programming tools to make the best games.

Discover the incredible landmarks of Kyoto, like Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine, Kiyomizu Temple, and Nijo Castle; shop in vibrant downtown markets; and meet local teens, too. On excursions, get your heart racing at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka and visit the gaming megapolis of Tokyo! In Kyoto, you’ll experience first-hand the process of creating video games and immerse yourself in the traditions of the gaming capital of the world.

The Take-Aways

Real-world Experience

Experience the game design process, grasp the basics of coding and programming tools, and come home with a simple game you code and create yourself.

Credentials For Your Future

Topics for your college essays, experience to inform your future career, and your own video game design.

Life Skills And New Friendships

Return with greater self-confidence, independence, and improved communication skills. Enjoy a broader worldview and diverse friendships from across the U.S.


Hours Of Expert Instruction


Weeks Pursuing Your Passion


Life-changing Experience

The Destination
  • KYOTO, JAPAN Video Game Design
  • KYOTO, JAPAN Video Game Design
  • Kyoto Video Game Design

The Destination

Welcome to Kyoto, home of some of the world’s greatest video game franchises.  

Japan’s capital for more than a thousand years, Kyoto is the both the center of traditional Japanese culture and a mecca for video gamers. Ancient architecture and serene landscapes blend with numerous gaming cafés and arcades, which host tournaments for new and classic games regularly. The International Manga Museum, featuring gaming titles, and the Nintendo Museum are perfect places to discover the artistic influences behind iconic video game universes. Super Mario, Zelda, Resident Evil, and Final Fantasy—just to name a few—all hail from Kyoto! 

There are many remarkable experiences that await. The city boasts zen rock gardens, incredible views of surrounding hills, districts that feel like villages from another era, and 2000 temples and shrines. At restaurants, you can try some of the best traditional flavors the city has to offer, like ramen, sushi, and the most exclusive green teas. In Kyoto's mix of old and new, traditional and modern, you'll discover a city full of inspiration that you can channel into your game design. 

Cultural Awareness

CIEE wants all our students to feel welcomed, supported, and empowered to succeed while studying abroad. Local CIEE staff have provided details about conditions and cultural attitudes that students with specific identities might encounter in Kyoto. 

Daily Life

Daily Life


Each day offers a balance between interactive instruction and cultural activities with time on your own, too. Morning classes and afternoon activities may swap places.  

  • Breakfast at the hotel 
  • Hands-on classes with expert instructors and artists.  
  • Lunch with your fellow Global Navigators in the community 
  • Out and about for a cultural activity or workshop  
  • Dinner out in the community   


  • Overnight or day excursions to top sites  
  • Quality time with friends

Check out the blog posts to discover more about daily life and excursions on program.


Hotel, shared rooms with other Global Navigators

24/7 Support

1 Program Leader for every 12 students and support from local staff

Program Blogs


The Sound of the Beat!

By Leslie O'Brien at CIEE

One of our first lessons in Japan, was the drums. Students gathered around large drums in pairs and were taught several drumming pieces. Students had to listen to one another... keep reading


Work hard, play harder!

By Larry Bogan at CIEE

Our students have been diligently working in their game design class, channeling their creativity and technical skills into developing their own game prototypes. The commitment and hard work they've put... keep reading


First Day Adventures!

By Leslie O'Brien at CIEE

What a great first day for the Game Design group in Kyoto, Japan. Those of us traveling from the airport experienced the Hello Kitty train, followed by a transfer to... keep reading


Sample Activities

KYOTO, JAPAN Video Game Design

Just imagine all the fun you’ll have!

  • Experience the marching rhythms of Japanese taiko drumming as you get musical with your fellow Global Navigators. 
  • Transport yourself into your favorite video game adventures and thrill rides at Super Nintendo World, located at Universal Studios Japan in the city of Osaka. 
  • Step into virtual reality worlds and release your inner warrior as you become a Samurai or Ninja at Kyoto’s Samurai & Ninja Museum. 
  • Check out the old Nintendo Uji Ogura Plant, turned into the new Nintendo Museum, displaying a wide array of gaming products from Nintendo’s past. 
  • Pick out your favorite souvenirs and find hidden Pokémon throughout the world-famous Pokémon Centers in both Kyoto and Osaka!  

Please note activities are based on past programs and subject to change at CIEE's discretion to adapt to local circumstances and participant feedback. Our goal when arranging activities is always to enhance your experience.  



  • Participants must be 14 years old and above.
  • Program open to all current high school students: Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors.    
  • For scholarship eligibility requirements, please check our scholarship page.  

For more information, refer to the detailed Program Essential Eligibility Criteria.

Dates & Fees

Dates & Fees

Application Fee  


Program scholarships and tuition include iNext Travel Insurance, but do not cover the cost of flights. Find additional details about what’s included with your tuition.  

More Questions? Find answers, get application support, sign up for virtual presentations, or contact us!


Application Due

Start Date

End Date


Program Summer Session I 2025 3 weeks Start Date End Date Costs $6,450
Program Summer Session II 2025 3 weeks Start Date End Date Costs $6,450

What's Included

Interactive Classes


3 Meals/Day

(Dietary Needs Accommodated)

All Ground Transportation

(Once In-country)

Optional Flight Chaperone

(Flight Cost Not Included)

Pre-departure Advice and Orientation

Access to Local Phone and WIFI

All Cultural Activities and Excursions

Comprehensive Medical and Travel Protection

24/7 Emergency On-site Support

Our Staff

Our Staff

Conor Aherne

Center Director

Conor’s passion for Japan began 12 years ago when he studied abroad in Tokyo. He holds an MA in Japanese & Asian History from Saitama University and is a specialist in Kyoto history.

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