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This is a foundation course of the Game Design Major, focusing on the many facets of the game development process. During the course of the semester, students learn about the five primary disciplines in game development – concept, design, programming, art, and audio, as well as the structure of the development team, production cycle, and business realities. Students are also exposed to game design documentation formats and by the class's end students are asked to produce written documentation and develop their own game concept.

Course Description/Rational: The students are taught that games are a medium to be used for expression. A personal game design is pursued and utilized as a vehicle to motivate interactive art and game design majors to think more critically and creatively as they gain technical writing and presentation skills.

Prerequisites: Enthusiasm for games.

  • Review the history of video/computer games with regard to evolving genres and taxonomies.
  • Develop game analysis and criticism competency as applied to both existing game/products and their own game ideas.
  • Review both creative idea techniques as well as industry idea development related processes.
  • Create an original Game Concept/Design Document and Pitch Presentation.
  • Begin to know your own creative identity.


"My Favorite Game" and "My Mystery Box"
  1. Got a favorite current game? This is your chance to tell us. Name it, define it, and be prepared to tell us *why* it’s your favorite game.
  2. Think about JJ Abrams' talk. What is your "mystery box?" Look around your room, life etc; is there an object or something that holds significant personal value to you? What is the story about why/how it became important to you?
Patrick Feiler
My Favorite Game

Michael Cirone
My Mystery Box

"Art As Catalyst"
  1. Create a concept document for a game based on a visual artist: Find your own artist to hire for your game company. You must go to an actual gallery – you cannot use the internet this time. You have to prove you saw this artist in a brick and mortar gallery by bringing back the announcement for the show. You have to turn it in with your paper.
Alex Leach
Katherine LeClair’s Landscapes: Concept Document

Chris Kayser
Edward Hopper, Nighthawks: Concept Document

"Musical History"

Find a piece of music (you can look online) written between 1900 and 1950 and:
  1. Create a concept document for a game based on this music
    • Ask yourself, what is this music about?
    • What was happening at the time it was written?
    • Was the music utilized at any point for any purpose? Propganda? Marketing?
Nate Goddard
Concept Document: Naval Combat

Ryan Blake
Concept Document: Going Home

"Game Analysis"

You’ve already told us what your favorite current game is, now you are going to analyze it…Include the following in your analysis. (Use the following as headers. Make sure you keep it short –only one phrase or paragraph per header, as appropriate.)

  1. Game Title, Game Development Studio & Publisher, Platform, Genre, Player Mode, Time Interval, Audience/Market, Rating, Challenge & Fun Factor
  2. Features Analysis (Choose 2 of the following: sound, story, dialogue, character development, interface, gameplay strategies, mission design, artificial intelligence, aesthetics. How are these features used in the game, and why do you think they were successful?)
  3. Concept, Subject matter and Storyline – what is the subject matter and does it have a storyline? If so, then what is it? What does the game seem to be about? Is it about anything? If not, then why do you suppose that is? Point of view: What do you suppose the point of view of the maker of the game is? What do you think they hope to accomplish by making the game?
Aric Zeeck
Game Analysis: BioShock

Nate Larson
Game Analysis: Neverwinter Nights

"User Centered Game Design"

Read the article "User Centered Game Design" and write a one-half page synopsis of your thoughts on the piece and anything you may have learned from it. Additionally address 3 of the questions in the requirements below.
  1. Why are games important?
  2. Consider a game as a messenger. What kind of messenger would it be? Trojan Horse? Benevolent muse? Define messenger your own way.
  3. Define game. Define art. Can a game be art?
  4. Accepting as a precondition that a game can be art, answer one of these:
    • What is the Point of View? Currently there are 3 accepted points of view (1st, 3rd, God) – what could be a 4th POV in a game that is the POV that is generated by a work of art?
    • Consider "form follows function" from the Bauhaus– how could this inform a design for a game that is a work of art?
    • In interactive art, pace (defined as the give and take between viewer and creator) is often manipulated by compressing or expanding time. How could this inform a game design?
Patrick Schreiber
User Centered Game Design: Thoughts

Ryan Czaja
User Centered Game Design: Thoughts

"This totally sucks..."

Ok, we know what your favorite game is and we've done a little analysis on it. Now, you need to tell us what's bad about your favorite game. Yup. You heard me, what sucks about your game; The kicker is, you can't just list what sucks, you have to tell us why it sucks. Focus on gamplay and the specialized area of your concentration.

Nate Goddard
Critique: Hearts of Iron 2 Doomsday Armageddon

Chris Stockbridge
Critique: Psychonauts

"Final: Game design document and pitch"

This is it, try to sell us on your idea.

Noah Johnson
Bistro: Sell Sheet
Bistro: Game Design Document
Bistro: Pitch

Matt Tusa
Blood, Sweat, Tears: Sell Sheet
Blood, Sweat, Tears: Game Design Document
Blood, Sweat, Tears: Pitch