Game Design

From schools where students face “boss levels” instead of taking tests, to public health experts who have looked to games as a way of slowing flu outbreaks, to the idea that “gamification” can be used to change human behavior, it’s indisputable that games have emerged as an area of serious academic inquiry. At their best, games are fun – but creating game experiences that are fun, challenging, sufficiently complex and somehow addicting is extraordinarily difficult. In this class, we will examine the “mechanics” of game design. How are games created? What makes games fun? What is a game?

Syllabus (PDF) | Course schedule (Google Doc for Fall 2011, in progress)

Readings + Resources:

Brenda Brathwaite and Ian Schreiber, Challenges for Game Designers / Many of the challenges + activities we engage with in this course are inspired by (or come directly from) this collection.

Ian Schreiber’s Game Design Concepts (, a class Schreiber taught online in 2009. / The scope + sequence of this course is based largely on Schrieber’s curriculum.

James Paul Gee, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy

Jane McGonigal, Reality is Broken

Ralph Koster, A Theory of Fun for Game Design

Game Design Challenges:

Challenge #1: Race-to-the-End (PDF) /

Challenge #2: Focus on the mechanic (PDF) /

Challenge #3: Chance vs. Skill: Epic Battle (PDF) /

Challenge #4: Running a Restaurant (Instructions_PDF + writing_rules_PDF) /

Challenge #5: The Final Challenge (PDF) /

Game Evaluation Criteria from Mike Compton: (Rubric PDF) and (URL)

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