Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Game Design Course

If you're in Calgary this Fall, I'm running a game design course with Mount Royal University's faculty of Continuing Education. I'll be talking about both boardgames and videogames, and there will be lots of hands-on prototyping and playtesting.

Classes run from September 30th to October 21st, Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6:00 to 9:45 (seven nights total). Maximum enrollment is 27, so everyone should be able to take active part in discussions. Check it out and register online! (course registration code: 90981)

[update: I will be running this class again! Tuesday nights only from February 3rd to March 7th (course registration code: 30941 )]

It'll be my first time teaching, so wish me luck! Here are summaries of what I'll be covering in each class:

Class #1 (Tues Sep 30th) - Digital vs Non-Digital
After introducing the class format, we discuss the relationship between designing digital and non-digital games and the relationship between “mechanics,” “dynamics” and “aesthetics.”
Class exercise: Play a eurogame

Class #2 (Thurs Oct 2nd) - Resource Economies
We discuss the ways resources interact in various games including the often-critical resource: time.
Class exercise: Examine the resources in a popular videogame, then implement those resources in a boardgame adaptation

Class #3 (Thurs Oct 7th) - Success and Failure
We discuss how a player’s goals affect gameplay, and how to achieve different styles of inter-player dynamics.
Class exercise: Figure out how to remove elimination from Risk and also speed up play with the objective of finishing a playthrough within the time allotted

Class #4 (Tues Oct 9th) - Randomness
We examine some of the math and psychology involved in employing randomization, as well as two central game dynamics: push-your-luck and rock-paper-scissors.
Class exercise: Prototype and playtest a simple game that involves push-your-luck, then play Incan Gold

Class #5 (Tues Oct 14th) - Theme and Narrative
We discuss game mechanics as representation, their relationship to game narrative, and the tradeoffs of complexity.
Class exercise: Design a simple game that simulates a historical or fictional event

Class #6 (Thurs Oct 16th) - Game Balance
We look more critically at the process of iterative design, and discuss some pitfalls of balancing games.
Class exercise: Rework a game previously designed in class to feature asymmetric gameplay or starting conditions

Class #7 (Tues Oct 21st) - Psychology
We examine some psychological techniques and how to use them to your (and preferably the player’s) benefit, what feels “fair,” and how games can teach us.
Class exercise: Play San Juan and Race for the Galaxy, discuss the advantage and disadvantage of each presentation style, and analyze the aesthetics both games evoked during play