Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Game Design Concepts: an Experiment

For those of you who I met at GDC and found their way here, welcome!

One thing I talked to a lot of people about is an experiment I'm doing this Summer, called "Game Design Concepts."

This is a free online class that I'm going to teach. It is not affiliated with any college or university, and not for credit. It will be taught through a combination of blog, email and wiki. It contains all of the information (and then some) in one of the game design classes that I normally teach in a classroom in exchange for tuition money. But I'm releasing it for free this Summer.

The subject of the course is, as you might expect, game design. The intended audience is:
  • Students who are interested in game design, and either are at a school that doesn't teach it well or doesn't teach it at all (or maybe you just want a second opinion).

  • Teachers, especially those who teach game design. You can compare my material with that of your own class. Maybe you'll find some useful resources that you didn't know about, and maybe you'll be able to offer me some hints in return.

  • Game developers who aren't designers. In a lot of companies, game design is still considered something of a "dark art" and those who aren't designers are often curious about how game design is done. In a few hours a week, this whole other field can (hopefully) be demystified.

  • Game designers. Do you have an interest in contributing to education? Do you want to know what it is that the next generation of designers -- the ones who are likely to report to you in 4 to 6 years -- are being taught in the classroom? This is a way to find out, and contribute your own experience in the process.

  • Anyone else with an interest in learning more about game design. For example, parents or grandparents of game designers who are curious about what these kids are doing; or hardcore gamers who want greater insight into the design decisions that make their favorite games so great.

If I've got your attention and interest, the blog is at gamedesignconcepts.wordpress.com and all updates (including instructions to register) will be posted there.


Aaron said...

Hey, your link click through is broken.

Ian Schreiber said...

Not sure how that happened, but thanks for pointing it out! It's been fixed.

Brent said...

Would you recommend this course to students who've had you for game design? Or would this primarily feature content you've already covered in your classes?

Ian Schreiber said...

For the rare student that has had my game design class(es) and continues to read my blog anyway, you'll be familiar with the content.

That said, nothing wrong with going through the process of creating a game multiple times. The best way to get better at designing games is to just do it, and if a formal "class" structure helps you to create more games then you would at least get that much out of it.

Anonymous said...

Is there an age limit?
ocho ball

Seth said...

This is a really cool thing. Designers seem to be very willing to share on blogs already, but a whole class is a gem. I've signed up for it. Out of curiosity, what is the textbook you mentioned that we'll be using?

Ian Schreiber said...

Ocho: no age limit. That whole comment about family members of game designers was, in fact, directed at you personally :)

Seth: unsurprisingly, the text will be "Challenges for Game Designers". This will be announced officially when I finish and post the syllabus in the next week or two.

Mr. Lee said...

Even though I've attended the class before I'd be interested in taking the version 3.0 of it. If I'm free during that time count me as an attendee.

Seth said...

Oh, Brenda Brathwaite's book. I should have figured that out.

Here's a crazy idea for a future online or real world class: Instead of requiring a textbook, which can be close to $100 these days anyway, have a class that requires a license of the Unity engine. It's $200 for the Indie license, easy to prototype with and best of all once your students finish your class they'll have their own engine license to go make a game with. Not as pure of a design-focused learning experience, since you'd have to get into scripting and art, but I just thought I'd throw that out there.

Ian Schreiber said...


Hey, it's not JUST Brenda's book, it's part mine too :P

And for the record, this text isn't anywhere near $100. MSRP is under $25, and you can get it on Amazon for something like $16. That's a lot less than a software license.

For some classes, though, I can definitely see requiring a software license (or paid subscription to some kind of online resource) in lieu of a textbook. And I've toyed around with the idea of a "game appreciation" class (i.e. play and critically analyze the important classic games), and having a "lab fee" that is then used to purchase games for the class. So you're definitely on to something.

But not for this summer :)