CISC-226/3.0 Game Design

Original Author: Nick Graham
Last Revised: February 23, 2011

Calendar Description

An introduction to techniques for designing elementary computer games. Topics will include game development tools and processes, principles of game design, game prototyping and game evaluation.
Prerequisite: CISC 124/3.0


This course will teach students tools and techniques aiding the design of successful digital games. Upon completion of the course, students will understand key game design principles, tools and processes for creating digital games, as well as how to implement elementary games.

Computer games have become an important entertainment medium and a signi´Čücant application domain within computing science. This course introduces the tools, processes and design concepts necessary to develop elementary computer games.

Games are typically developed by large, multi-disciplinary teams. The course will examine how such teams are organized, and describe the agile development processes most teams deploy. It will provide an overview of roles of the development team members and the toolsets they use.

The core of the course will be devoted to techniques for designing games. Students will perform a term-long, team-based design and development project. The course will discuss design principles for games, technologies for implementing these designs, and techniques for evaluating their success.

The course will include special units on games and society, and on the design of serious games such as educational games and games for health.


  • Game Genres, Platforms, Players: Styles of games. Properties of platforms used to play games. Player demographics.
  • Tools and Processes: Game development processes. Roles in the game development process. Game Development Tools.
  • Game Design Principles: Fundamentals of designing entertaining games.
  • Game Sketching: Techniques for documenting game designs. Assessing entertainment of games before their implementation.
  • Game Prototyping: Tools and techniques for creating playable game prototypes. Prototyping tools. Modding tools.
  • Game Evaluation: Techniques for testing effectiveness of game designs.
  • Serious Games: Designing games for health and education. Assessing effectiveness of serious games.
  • Games and Society: Societal impact of game designs. Game addiction. Games and violence.
Possible Text Books
  • Jesse Schell, The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Morgan Kauffman, 2008.

  • Richard Rouse III, Game Design: Theory and Practice, Wordware Publishing, 2001.

  • Tracy Fullerton, Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games (2nd edition), Morgan Kaufmann, 2008.

  • Ernest Adams, Fundamentals of Game Design (2nd Edition), New Riders Press, 2009.

  • Heather Maxwell Chandler, The Game Production Handbook (Second Edition), Jones and Bartlett, 2008.