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Teaching Game Design in Non-Game Design Programs

A letter to my colleagues everywhere

Hello fellow Interaction Design Program Faculty! (and UX and all you other variously named programs!)

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As you play a game, it has to become harder to keep players in a state of fun, so they tend to bounce around in the fun/flow channel. This is a hard design challenge.

Textbooks

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Syllabi Worth Stealing

Oh C’mon. Like you don’t do that. ;) Life is an extended dance remix, you have to start somewhere. Preferably on the shoulders of giants. These giants are kind enough to share their knowledge. Just remember to cite!

Supplies

I don’t think you need much beyond pen, paper and dice (and dice is optional) but things go better if you have a few more items…

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a kit for play
  • Three sizes of Index cards. The little ones, often sold as blank flash cards, are cheaper and better to use than “blank playing cards.”
  • Dice. Sure you can just use six sided, but you might want to play with variable probability.
    Blank dice you can customize is a definite luxury, but hardly needed.
  • Game Bits. Figures for pieces that mark the players progress, plastic chits/poker chips to represent values or create economy. Sometimes people just use coins. You might prefer wooden people to plastic. Meeples are optional.

Getting Started

I have used this exercise from Brenda Romero: The Easiest Game Design Exercise Ever (Really) to start the game design unit, and it works amazingly. If anyone starts out daunted by the idea of making a game, this quickly cures it. Because the site where I found this exercise is not up, I reposted it here:

Create a “Race to the End” Game.

Written by

Designing business, and the business of design. www.eleganthack.com

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