MEDIA 363.97 || Concepts in Game Design

This course surveys the historical basis  of and current practices in game design. Just as a study of rhetoric and persuasive argument lays the foundation for effective written communication, the study of game design lays the foundation for an equally effective interactive communication. Clear design concepts are phase one of any sucessful digital experience. The concepts explored in this class will prove fundamental to the design of any interactive experience from a non-fiction website to a MMORPG.


The class is divided into three sections.
Part one covers strategies of interaction including pattern languages, flow, progression, and emergence. We will also examine the design of some classic games.
Part two of the class looks at computer games specifically and examines the relationship between engines, quests, missions, and level design.
Part three examines the rise of art and serious games, the impact of socially aware design on entertainment, societal and cultural values that may be encoded in games, and early and current theories of play.

Books and Materials

Barton and Loguidice. Vintage Games.
Other readings as noted from the course reading pack (.pdf)

Course work

Three five page analytical papers
Two paper protypes ( team collaborations )
Two presentations


aferraiolo at inbox dot com

Week 1

How Design Creates Behavior
In class: Traditional. Four Square.
In class: Pajitnov. Tetris.
In class: Miyamoto. Super Mario Brothers.
In class: Miyamoto, Tezuka. The Legend of Zelda.
Design Exercise: Rules and Mechanics
Read: Barton and Loguidice. Chapters 13, 16, 17

Week 2

Lost in the Arcade
In class: Iwatani, et al. Pac-Man.
In class: Nishikado. Space Invaders.
In class: Yotoriyama. Soul Caliber II.
Design Exercise: Pattern as Mechanic
Read: Alexander. A City is Not a Tree. online here

Week 3

Repetition, Divergence, and Reward
In class: Ong. Grow Island.
In class:
Grimm, Robinett. Rocky's Boots.
In class: Tynjala. Logicly.
In class:
Traditional. Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Design Exercise: How Repetition Works, How Repetition Fails
Read: Barton and Loguidice. Chapters 1, 12, 22
Read: Uhler. Postmortem of Myst III: Exile (.pdf)
Hand in: Paper 01 - Analysis of A Meaningful Game Mechanic

Week 4

Hooking the Player
In class: Miller, Miller. Myst III: Exile.
In class: Chanfray, Raynal, Barroz. Alone In The Dark.
In class: Wright, et al. The Sims.
Design Exercise: Puzzle and Collection
Read: Nyman. Experimental Music (.pdf)

Week 5

Information Schemes from Artists
In class: Fluxus and Surrealist games
In class: Bookchin. The Intruder.
In class: Roher. Passage and Gravitation.
In class:
Amanita Design. Samarost.
Design Exercise: Your Life as a Vending Machine
Read: Barton and Loguidice. Chapters 2, 5, 25.
Read: Csiksentmihalyi. Flow. ( .pdf )

Week 6

Level and Flow from Simple Maps to 3D Arenas
In class: Anderson, Blank, Daniels, Lebling. Zork.
In class: Williams. Mystery House.
In class: Carmac. Wolfenstein, Doom, Quake.
In class: Miyamoto. Mario World.
Design Exercise: A Dog's Brain is a Level Design
Read: Barton and Loguidice. Chapter 4.
Read: Schaefer. Postmortem of Diablo II.
Read: Leonard. Postmortem of Thief: The Dark Project.
Present: Team Prototype 01 - Experimental Game Play

Week 7

Burnout, Milking, Griefers
In class: Jones, Howard, Butcher. Halo.
In class: Brevik, Schaefer, Schaefer. Diablo II.
In class: Spector, Yaus. Thief: The Dark Project.
Design Exercise: How to Keep Killing a Zombie
Read: Sweetser. Scripting vs Emergence. (.pdf)
Read: Barton and Loguidice. Chapter 9.

Week 8

Emergence vs Progression
In class: Harrington, Newell. HalfLife.
In class:
Clark, Jones, Houser, Houser. Grand Theft Auto
Design Exercise: Using Predictability to Create Emergence
Read: Frasca. Video Games of the Oppressed. ( .pdf )

Week 9

Game Design's Alternate Universe
In class: Frasca. September 12th.
In class: Hermund, et al. Third World Farmer.
In class: Molle Industria. McDonald's.
Design Exercise: Urgent Game Design
Read: Winner. Do Artifacts Have Politics? (.pdf)
Read: Barton and Loguidice. Chapter 10.
Hand in: Paper 02, Experimental Game Mechanics

Week 10

System Bias
In class: Cummings et al. Madden 2005
In class:
Terashima. Gran Turismo
Design Exercise: English is Gone and Still We Design
Read: Eco. Narrative Structures in Fleming. ( .pdf )

Week 11

Narrative Games
In class: Blow, et al. Braid.
In class: Harvey, Samyn. The Graveyard.
In class: Harvey, Samyn. The Path.
In class: Mateas, Stern. Facade
Design Exercise: James Bond To Go
Read: Bartle. Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds. ( .pdf )

Week 12

Hot Heads and Cold Logic
In class: Traditional. Poker
In class:Traditional. Class Poker Tournament
Design Exercise: How Player Temperment Affects Strategy
Read: Huizinga. Homo Ludens. ( .pdf )
Hand in: Paper 03, Analysis of Serious Game Design

Week 13

Why People Will Always Play
In class: Traditional. Hopscotch.
Design Exercise: Hopscotch Mods
Design Exercise: Transmitting Culture though Play
No reading this week, work on your final projects

Week 14

Demos & Presentations
Present in class: Team Prototype 02 - Serious Game Play
Hand in: Work DVD

& . . .

A is for Apple
Natalie Bookchin
Bruno Bozzetto
Dreaming Methods
Ferry Halim
Jason Rohrer
Tokyo Plastic