DESMA 157A: Design for Interactive Media - Computer Game Design

 

Winter Quarter 2007

 

Instructor:

Andreas Kratky

Prerequisites:

Courses C101 or 104 or 106, and 154A

Contact:

akratky [at] cinema.usc.edu

Time:

Tuesdays, 9:00 - 11:50 am

Fridays, 9:00 - 11:50 am

Location:

Broad 4240

TA:

Aaron Siegel

TA Contact:

asiegel [at] datadreamer.com

 

 

 

Description:

When they were invented in the 1960s computer games started as a political action and as an aesthetic experiment. The ‘abuse’ of expensive computers and high-tech equipment to play games was a subversive movement that anticipated the hacker culture that formed when computers became more readily available. Since then games became one of the fastest growing branches of popular culture. The game industry sales surpassed those of film and television as well as those of the music industry. With this growth also the professional career possibilities in the game sector increased.

 

The course gives an overview over central aspects of games and traces their roots as an essential part of human culture. It fosters an open and critical view and focuses on the creative aspect of game creation, modification and their artistic détournement. At the same time the class gives an introduction into the basics of the design process of games. Throughout the course the students will develop in an iterative design process one original game idea and develop it to a prototype and design document.

 

 

Grading:

Participation: 40%

In-class exercises: 30%

Final project: 30%

 

 

 

Schedule:

 

Week 1:

Meeting 1 (January 9, 2007) - Introduction

  • Overview over course structure
  • Lecture: What are games, the concept of play; relevance of games; artistic aspects of games
  • Presentation/Discussion: Relevant examples

 

Meeting 1a (January 12, 2007) - Game Design Process

  • Studio: Overview over the game design process; iterative design; games as a specific perceptual mode
  • In-class exercises

 

 


Week 2:

Meeting 2 (January 16, 2007) - History of Games

  • Lecture: Overview over the historic development of videogames
  • Presentation/Discussion: Relevant examples
  • Reading: J. Huizinga; Homo Ludens; Chapter 1: Nature and Significance of Play as a Cultural Phenomenon (included in reader)

 

Meeting 2a (January 19, 2007) - The Structure of Games 1

  • Studio: Overview over the formal elements of games
  • In-class exercises
  • Brainstorming: Development of original game ideas

 

 

Week 3:

Meeting 3 (January 23, 2007) - Rulebased Systems

  • Lecture: Games as rule-based systems; Simulation; Emergence
  • Presentation/Discussion: Relevant examples
  • Reading: G. Frasca; Simulation versus Narrative (included in reader)

 

Meeting 3a (January 26, 2007) - The Structure of Games 2

  • In-class exercises
  • Prototyping of the game design project

 

 

Week 4:

Meeting 4 (January 30, 2007) - Dramatic Elements

  • Studio: Overview over the dramatic elements of games

 

Meeting 4a (February 2, 2007) - Playtesting 1

  • Studio: Playtesting the game design project
  • Analysis and discussion of playtest results

 

 

Week 5:

Meeting 5 (February 6, 2007) - Narrative and Artificial Intelligence

  • Lecture: The role of narrative in games, language games, artificial intelligence
  • Presentation/Discussion: Relevant examples
  • Reading: J. Juul; Games Telling Stories? (included in reader)

 

Meeting 5a (February 9, 2007) - Design revision

  • Studio: Refining the game design project based on playtesting results

 


Week 6:

Meeting 6 (February 13, 2007) - Psychology of Games

  • Lecture: Psychological aspects of games, agency and representation; games as communication devices
  • Presentation/Discussion: Relevant examples
  • Reading: M. Csikszentmihalyi; Flow; Chapter 4: The Conditions of Flow (included in reader)

 

Meeting 6a (February 16, 2007) - Graphic Design

  • Studio: Development of the graphic design and interaction strategy for the game design project

 

 

Week 7:

Meeting 7 (February 20, 2007) - Guest Lecturer

  • Eddo Stern

 

Meeting 7a (February 23, 2007) - Field Trip

  • Class excursion to the Institute for Creative Technologies

 

 

Week 8:

Meeting 8 (February 28, 2007) - Aesthetic of Games

  • Lecture: The aesthetic of game worlds; abstraction; perspective
  • Presentation/Discussion: Relevant examples
  • Reading: Marc J. P. Wolf; Abstraction in the Video Game (included in reader)

 

Meeting 8a (March 2, 2007) - Playtesting 2

  • Studio: Playtesting the new iteration of the game design project

 

 

Week 9:

Meeting 9 (March 6, 2007) - Games as Art

  • Lecture: The appropriation of games by the artworld, critical responses
  • Presentation/Discussion: Relevant examples
  • Reading: Tilman Baumgärtel; On a Number of Aspects of Artistic Computer Games (included in reader)

 

Meeting 9a (March 9, 2007) - Implementation 2

  • Studio: Final implementation of the game design project

 

 

Week 10:

Meeting 10 (March 13, 2007) - Hacking and Bending

  • Lecture: Game Modifications, hacking and bending as a artistic approach
  • Presentation/Discussion: Relevant examples
  • Reading: Mentor; Hacker Manifesto - The Conscience of a Hacker (included in reader)
  • DUE: Final Project

 

Meeting 10a (March 16, 2007) - Final Presentation

  • Studio: Final presentation of the game design project

 

 

 


Required Reading:

- A course reader will be available for purchase. A copy will be on reserve at The Arts Library.

The reading assignments are due for the day they are mentioned in the syllabus.

 

  • Johan Huizinga: Homo Ludens; Boston 1955; Chapter 1: Nature and Significance of Play as a Cultural Phenomenon

 

  • Gonzalo Frasca: Simulation versus Narrative; in: Mark J. P. Wolf + Bernard Perron: The Video Game Theory Reader; New York 2003

 

  • Jesper Juul: Games Telling Stories? Game Studies, July 2001 (http://www.gamestudies.org/0101/juul-gts/)

 

  • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Flow; New York 1991; Chapter 4: The Conditions of Flow

 

  • Marc J. P. Wolf: Abstraction in the Video Game; in: Mark J. P. Wolf + Bernard Perron: The Video Game Theory Reader; New York 2003

 

  • Tilman Baumgartel; On a Number of Aspects of Artistic Computer Games; Media Art Net, Computer Games (http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/themes/generative-tools/computer_games/)

 

  • Mentor; Hacker Manifesto - The Conscience of a Hacker

(http://www.phrack.org/archives/7/P07-03)

 

 

 

Games: