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Course Overview

Introduction to Game Design is intended to be a practical introduction to game design and game design concepts, emphasizing the basic tools of game design: paper and digital prototyping, design iteration, and user testing.  

Course Guidelines

Course Calendar

View a Google calendar for 11.126x including the launch dates for each week and the live events.  Add the calendar to your own Google account to see it in your own time zone. The calendar is also available in iCal format.

Live Events Schedule

Ask Me Anything  - Philip Tan - Oct 24th at 5:00 PM UTC.
Your chance to ask Philip Tan your questions about game design, the design of the course, what it is like to research games at MIT, or whatever else you want to know. Hosted on Reddit's AMA forum.

Twitch Livestream - Paul Medlock-Walton and Philip Tan - Oct 31st at 5:00 PM UTC.
Submit your questions ahead of time in the Week 1 Livestream forum; Paul and Philip will answer a selection of them on a live streaming video session. This is your chance to ask the creator of Gameblox, Paul Medlock-Walton, questions about Gameblox. Philip Tan will be present to answer any additional questions about the course.

Course Content

  • Week 0:  Welcome (Getting To Know You) - Launches Oct. 22, at 0:00 UTC
      • Course Introduction - a video introduction to the course, and some advice on how to get the most out of the course.
      • Useful Information: Guidelines, course logistics, and other useful information about the course.
      • Meet Your Cohort - introduce yourself to other participants, and find out who else is taking the course.
      • Live Event: Ask Me Anything on Reddit with Philip Tan - Oct 24th, 5:00 PM UTC
  • Week 1: What Is a Game? - launches Oct 29th, at 0:00 UTC
      • What Are Games: An explanation and introduction to the vocabulary of games and play.
      • Analyzing Games: Discussing and evaluating games the way a game designer does, using the vocabulary and thought processes of game designer.  Also featuring an interview with Rob Daviau, designer of Risk Legacy.
      • Assignment 1.1: Make a game in 10 minutes, then test it.
      • Assignment 1.2: Introduction to Gameblox.
      • Twitch Livestream - Oct 31st, 5:00 PM UTC
  • Week 2: Prototyping - launches Nov 5, at 0:00 UTC
      • Prototyping: An explanation of the whys, whats, and hows of prototyping for games, and the importance of prototyping in the iterative process of developing games.
      • Testing: A basic discussion of the principles of testing for games, and its importance in iterative design.
      • Talks With Game Designers: Eitan Glinert and Scott Nicholson discuss how they use prototyping to create games.
      • Assignment 2.1: Analyze and Adapt a Game, a paper prototyping exercise.
      • Assignment 2.2: Find the Fun, a prototyping exercise with Gameblox.
  • Week 3: Creating a Coherent Game - launches Nov 12, at 0:00 UTC
      • Planning the Player Experience:  Games exist as a set of rules until someone starts to play them.  Understanding what happens when players interact with your game, and planning the elements of your game to support the experience you envision for your players, is one of the challenges game designers face.
      • Talks with Game Designers: A variety of game developers discuss player experiences in game, and what they do to attempt to craft a particular experience for players within their games.
      • Assignment 3.1: Explore A Mechanic:  This week starts a three week assignment in creating an original game, based on a single mechanic, aiming to create an interesting and engaging experience for the player.  This project serves as the final paper based project for the course.
      • Assignment 3.2: Finish Your Game - Using last week's digital assignment, take a solid set of actions (mechanics) for a game and turn it into a complete game. 
  • Week 4: Digital Prototyping - launches Nov 19, at 0:00 UTC
      • Digital Prototyping: Prototyping is a vital tool for developing engaging games.  While paper prototyping is the logical method to use with board and card games, it is also a useful tool for early devlopment on digital games.  However, some aspects of digital games cannot be well tested using non digital means.  So what is the difference between prototyping a digital game, and developing one?
      • Prototyping in Industry: Again, we talk to several industry professionals about how and when digital prototyping is used in developing digital games.
      • Assignment 4.1: Explore a Mechanic, week 2.  Work continues on creating an original game.
      • Assignment 4.2: Create A Unique Digital Game - For those interested in creating a unique digital game, we begin a two week final project creating an original game in Gameblox.
  • Week 5: Making Usable Games - launches Nov 26, at 0:00 UTC
      • User Interface: The easier your game is to understand and play, the more time your players can spend playing, rather than trying to guess what to do.  Understanding the principles of good user interface, and studying the successful user interfaces in other games, improves your ability to design a game that is accessible to your audience.
      • Developer Discussions: Industry professionals talk about 'polished games'.  A polished game is one that works smoothly, is easy to use, and provides a smooth experience for the player.  How do you polish your game, and how do you know when your game is polished?
      • Assignment 5.1: Final Project - week 3.  Time to take the lessons on user interface and polish presented this week, and apply them to your own game to create a solid, playable game.
      • Assignment 5.2: Digital Final Project - week 2.  Time to take the lessons on user interface and polish presented this week, and apply them to your own game to create a solid, playable game.
  • Week 6: Business In Games - launches Dec 3, at 0:00 UTC
      • Established Companies: Founders of companies that have been in business for over 10 years talk about their experiences as game designers, entrepreneurs, and businessmen.
      • New Companies: Founders of younger companies talk about their experiences as independent developers, and the challenges they have had to overcome to get their companies running.
      • Course Wrap-up: A concluding talk from the host of our course, and a chance to give the course staff feedback on your experience in the course.