Course Description: This course provides a foundation in game design.  By focusing on non-digital prototyping, the coursework develops the concepts that are unique to game design in a manner that is isolated from any platform specific technical techniques. Throughout the course students will develop three playable non-digital games, each project will explore various aspects of game design, including: rule design, game balance, multiplayer dynamics, complexity, randomness, polemics, narrative, physical interaction, and the aesthetic and pragmatic aspects of physical game design.

The course will cover game design concepts through reading and written assignments, class presentations, discussions, playtesting sessions, and game design and production projects.

Grading: Project 1 (20%), Project 2 (%20), Project 3 (25%) 5x Reading notes (20%), 3x Game analysis feedback forms (10%) Class participation (5%)

All reading notes, feedback forms and assignment PDFs must be uploaded to the class website before the beginning of class time on the day they are due unless a midnight deadline is indicated (as 24:00). 

More than two absences without the professor’s prior permission will lower the participant’s final grade by one unit (e.g. an A will become an B). With each additional unexcused absence, the grade will drop an additional unit. Late projects will drop one letter grade, and will not be accepted if more than one week late

Required Materials: Class assignments will require the use of a wide range of mixed media such as paper, cardboard, foam core, magnets, wood, plastic, fabric, and any other materials you may want to incorporate into your projects.

Required Books:

Salen, Katie and Eric Zimmerman, “Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals”, MIT Press, 2004 (ISBN: 9780262240451) (Available Online)

Recommended further reading on game design:

Caillois, Roger, “Man Play & Games”, University of Illinois Press, 2001 (ISBN: 9780252070334)
Huizinga, Johan, “Homo Ludens: A study of the play element in culture”, Beacon 1971 (ISBN: 9780807046814)
Rouse, Richard, “Game Design: Theory and Practice”, Wordware Publishing, 2001 (ISBN: 9781556229121)
Crawford, Chris, “Chris Crawford on Game Design”, New Riders Games, 2003 ( ISBN: 9780131460997)


157 Weekly Schedule:

Week 1 Tuesday Jan 6th
Class Overview
Website Demo
Screening “Going CardBoard”
Handout: Reading Notes 1
Thursday Jan 8th
Play : Games part 1 
(Backgammon/ Citadels)
Handout: Proj 1 – Physical to Tabletop Adaptation
Due : Reading Notes 1
Week 2 Tuesday Jan 13th
Game design Lecture:
-Designing good rules
-Chance and skill
-Probability / risk reward
Play: Games Part 2
(Stratego / Catan / Smallworld/ Stone Age)
Handout: Reading Notes 2
Thursday Jan 19th
Discussion: Methods for game analysis
Play: Games part 3
(German games part 2/ Clue)
Handout: Rough Draft
Due: Reading Notes 2
Week 3 Tuesday Jan 20th
Project 1 Playtests
Work in Class
Handout: Feedback
Due: Rough Draft Game
Thursday Jan 22nd
Play:Games part 4 (Cooperative)
(Pandemic / Mice and Mystics/ Beowulf)
Work in Class
Due: Feedback Forms 1
Week 4 Tuesday Jan 27th
Project 1 Playthroughs and Critique (Grp A)
Handout: Proj 1 Feedback Form
Due : Project 1: Physical -> Tabletop
Thursday Jan 29th
Project 1 Playthroughs and Critique (Grp B)
Handout Proj 2 – Video Game to Tabletop Adaptation
Due: Proj 1 Feedback Forms (4x)
Week 5 Tuesday Feb 3rd
Work in class
Handout: D&D Reading
Due: Proj 1 Feedback Forms (4x)
Thursday Feb 5th
Play: Dungeons and Dragons (w David!)
Due: D&D Characters
Week 6 Tuesday Feb 10th
Project 2 Playthroughs and Critique (Grp A)
Handout: Proj 2 Feedback Form
Handout: Reading Notes 3
Due : Project 2: Video game -> Tabletop
Thursday Feb 12th
Project 2 Playthroughs and Critique (Grp B)
Handout: Project 3: Polemical Game

Due: Reading Notes 3

Due: Proj 2 Feedback Forms (Due at Midnight)

Week 7 Tuesday Feb 17th
Polemical Game Proposals (group A)
Due: Project 3 Proposals
Thursday Feb 19st
Polemical Game Proposals (group B)
Handout: Reading Notes 4
Week 8 Tuesday Feb 24th
Polemical game Lecture
Class Discussion: responses to reading notes
Due: reading notes 4
Thursday Feb 26th
Work in Class
Play:Part 5 Polemical Games
(Anti Monopoly / Objectif / Journeys of Paul)
Week 9 Tuesday Mar 3rd
Work in Class
Thursday Mar 5th
Work in Class
Week 10 Tuesday Mar 10th
Project 3 Playthroughs and Critique (Grp A)
Handout: Proj 3 Feedback Form
Due : Project 3 Polemical Game
Thursday Mar 12th
Project 3 Playthroughs and Critique (Grp B)
Due: Proj 3 Feedback Forms (Due at Midnight)
Week 11 Project 3 Final Documentation



Student Responses