Differences Between Creative Computing and Creative Technology

Explore the connection between creativity and computer science. Learn about the differences between creative computing and creative technology.

Image of woman interacting with abstract virtual experience

Creative computing and creative technology are related but different disciplines. Creative computing centers on the use of computer science to create digital art and expression, while creative technology centers on leveraging technology to enhance and augment traditional forms of creative expression or to create new forms of physical art.

People who develop skills in either area are in high demand. Business leaders at forward-looking companies want talented employees who can help them keep pace with the ever-evolving uses of technology to improve operations. Graduates from a creative computing program combine computer science expertise with creative problem-solving skills. It’s a combination that makes them highly employable in a tech-driven market.

Defining Creative Computing and Creative Technology

People who have creative computing or creative technology skills focus on developing immersive, experiential digital content that audiences can interact with directly. Applications range from the creation of NFTs and art installations to virtual retail stores built in the metaverse. 

What is Creative Computing?

Creative computing involves using computer science and technology to create new forms of digital art, such as interactive installations, digital music and other forms of digital expressions. It’s a relatively new field within technology that has applications for both artists and businesses.

Photo of an automobile rendered using projection mapping

Early examples of this include Obscura Digital’s projections at the Sydney Opera House coupled with music from the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Audi A1 car projection mapping. The first uses technology to visualize music in a new, exciting way, while the latter uses technology to create an innovative approach to marketing and engaging with consumers.

Photo of interactive art installation

Artists also use technology to enhance visual presentation. Yayoi Kusama provides an early example, using mirrors and LED lights in the mid-20th century to create her Infinity Mirror Rooms. Modern installations show how far technology has advanced since those days. For example, the interactive installation “Story of the Times When Gods Were Everywhere” involves audiences touching a wall to launch characters in the installation, allowing them to create a personalized version of the artwork.

As it evolves, technology allows for the creation of digital installations that audiences can better interact with, creating stronger emotional connections to the work. 

What Is Creative Technology?

Photo of mobile augmented reality app

Creative technology focuses more on the tools used to enhance traditional modes of expression. It’s an area that rose to prominence around 2015 in the advertising world as creative technology such as motion sensors, VR headsets and smart technologies emerged. These technologies allowed for the creation of immersive and interactive content that continues to improve as smarter digital tools and larger processing power become available.

Examples of the tools available for creative technology include computer graphics, digital cinematography, virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D printing, connected devices (the Internet of Things) and wearable technology.

Content creators with an entrepreneurial mindset can use these tools to create enhanced, interactive digital environments, such as those companies currently are building in the metaverse. 

Careers in Creative Computing and Creative Technology

When it comes to considering career opportunities, the line between creative computing and creative technology is blurred. People who focus on either area can qualify and excel in the following careers. In general, creative computing graduates focus on using technology to develop new and original interactive experiences, while those in creative technology focus more on using tech tools to enhance traditional modes of expression.

Photo of a UX designer

Some jobs within creative technology include:

User Experience (UX) Designer: A UX designer creates engaging, accessible products that capture the user’s attention. They create everything with the user’s perspective in mind while also ensuring a product meets company goals.

Game designer: Game designers employ visualization skills and creativity, translating their ideas to create virtual worlds. They also must learn technical programming skills, system design, level design and game narration.

Multimedia animator: A multimedia animator uses photographs, music and visuals to create a presentation that gives the illusion of movement. 

Visual designers: Visual designers create engaging website interfaces while also keeping brand guidelines in mind. 

Sample jobs in creative computing, including jobs held by graduates of SMU’s creative computing bachelor’s program, include the following.

Management consulting company analyst: In this role, creative computing skills are used to find creative solutions to business problems.

Associate software engineer: By bringing a design mindset to technology, associate software engineers can enhance user experience when designing business software applications.

Software developer: A background in creative computing allows software developers to bring unconventional ideas toward solving business problems and creating new products.

App developer: With user experience in mind, an app developer with a creative computing education can better design engaging software applications in a variety of industries.

Product developer: Creating computing graduates bring a unique perspective to product development, finding unique solutions and ensuring products meet consumer needs.

SMU’s M.A. in Creative Technology

creative tech program imageWhile creative computing focuses on using computer science to create digital art and expression and creative technology focuses on leveraging technology to enhance or create new forms of physical art, both skill sets can help prepare you jobs in the tech industry. Professionals with creative computing and/or creative technology skills can develop immersive, experiential digital content that audiences can interact with directly. If you’re a creative professional who desires a deeper understanding of emerging technologies, or a programmer looking to get more skilled in the arts, the M.A. in Creative Technology from the Meadows School of Arts is the ideal next step to advance your career potential.

To learn more about SMU’s M.A. in Creative Technology program, visit our program page.