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Video Game Development

Page history last edited by John E. Martin 14 years ago

"It does not make much difference what a person studies --
all knowledge is related, and the man who studies anything, if he keeps at it, will become learned."


This page is a development frame for a high school level course for video game development. Intended as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) course, there will be included in its syllabus modules for both math (coordinate systems & logic) and science (physics) which related directly to the process of video game development. It is hoped that this class is just the beginning of a series of thematically based learning opportunities designed to provide a holistic and contextual approach to academic disciplines. If this is to happen, it would require reworking math, english and science (and perhaps other disciplines as well) to use video game design as the central vehicle or reference. For example, rather than being taught as discrete and sequential, math lessons would relate directly back to the central theme. The same thing applies to science - consider games such as Immune Attack, Spore, or the Sim series (SimEarthSimAntSimLifeSimFarmSimIsleSimSafari, and SimAnimals).



How do you become a better designer?

Answer: _____________________________________________



How do we handle ethics, morals and values within video games?

Answer: _____________________________________________



Ethics & Values 



  • Incorporate Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" (Lexile 780, 4th-5th grade) into the course as a way to think about video games and to inject the concepts of ethics and values within video games.
  • Incorporate Cory Doctorow's "Little Brother" (Lexile 900L, 5th-6th grade) as a discussion of freedom versus societal expectation exploring the relationship between ethics, morals, values and choice.
  • Incorporate Cory Doctorow's "For The Win" (Lexile unknown, 7th grade+) as a discussion of economics, rights, values and choice.
  • Discussion on Predator Drone, video-games, ethics and morals to tie into and make real the Ender connection. See video at right as well as the following links:
  • Discussion of violence, language, and mature themes in video games.
  • Discussion of MMORPGs, online relationships and safety.

Watch CBS News Videos Online


(A Brief!) History of Video Games


ATARI launches Pong

Taito launches Space Invaders

Atari launches Asteroids and then BattleZone in 3-D

Atari launches their home console with game cartridges in 1977


Atari bought, team split up, Activision launched to make cartridges (Pitfall)

PC Computers (Commodore, TI-99) allowed people to make their own games, if they had the skill.

Donkey Kong - We meet Mario

Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) launches

Mario Series


Duck Hunt

Launch of GameBoy in 1989


Exercise: Compare the reputation of arcades (like Funspot) to today's concerns over online gaming.






The Art of Design




Questions & Exercises

From the Art of Game Design (Schell)


I-1. Exercise - Draw your own map of game design concepts, any way you see fit. A good way to start is to write down concepts that you think are important to game design and to try to connect them together.

I-2. Question - What purpose do you think games serve?

I-3. Question - What principles of game design do you feel pretty sure are true?



1-1. Exercise - Tell 5 people you know that you are a game designer!

1-2. Question - What skills does a game designer need and how will they use those skills?

1-3. Exercise - Tell a story about a time in your life when deep listening made a difference.

1-4. Exercise - Tell a story about someone you know who has a minor gift, but not the major one.



2-1. Exercise - Think of a simple experience you had (the simpler, the better). Dissect your feelings about it using as many words as you can.

2-2. Exercise - Play a game and try to dissect the experience using the "Defeating Heisenberg" methods. Which methods work best for you? Why?

2-3. Exercise - Tell a story about a game you played that did a good job of capturing an essential experience.

2-4. Exercise - Think of a real world experience that you might want to capture in a game. Describe the "essence" of that experience.

2-5. Exercise - Design a simple board game that captures the essence of a real world experience.



3-1. Question - Which definitions in this chapter do you agree with? Which do you disagree with? And why!

3-2. Exercise - Describe a fun experience that is completely devoid of surprises.

3-3. Exercise - Describe a game that is not a problem solving activity.

3-4. Exercise - Design a game that challenges conventional ideas of what "game" means.



4-1. Exercise - Dissect a favorites videogame using the Lens of the Elemental Tetrad, and the Lens of Holographic Design. 

4-2. Exercise - Come up with a story, a technology, a game mechanic, and an aesthetic style. Now make up a game that has the four things you thought of.



5-1. Question - Think of your favorite movie. What is its theme?

5-2. Question - You are going to make an arcade game about elephants. How will you theme it?



6-1. Exercise - Using the Lens of Infinite Experience, look deep inside yourself for a videogame idea that no one else could come up with but you.

6-2. Exercise - Make a videogame designed for people who like to play Bingo. Use the tetrad to brainstorm at least 10 ideas in each of the four categories. Then, mix and match them to come up with ten complete game concepts. Mark the three that are the best.

6-3. Question - Your boss tells you that he wants you to make a game that crosses Pac-Man with Quake. Using the Lens of the Problem Statement, what questions do you ask him?

6-4. Exercise - Perform "Slumber with a Key." When the key wakes you, design a game.

6-5. Exercise - Draw a picture of your subconscious mind. Or heck, get out of the way and let your subconscious do a self-portrait.

6-6. Exericse - Get together with a team, and using the brainstorming tips, come up with brilliant ideas for the "Mario World Massively Multiplayer Game."



7-1. Question - Think of a game that didn't make it in the marketplace. Take a look at it through the lens of the Eight Filters. What went wrong?

7-2. Exercise - Come up with a brilliant video game idea. Now, imagine that you work for a small game company, and have to produce a finished game in nine months. Using the Lens of Risk Mitigation, analyze your game. How can you mitigate each risk? If you need to change your design, go ahead, and perform a second risk analysis.

7-3. Exercise - Think of a videogame idea. Make a paper prototype, and try it out with friends. Did the prototype teach you anything?

7-4. Question - Name five popular games that have toy-like qualities. 

7-5. Question - Name a popular toy that has no game-like qualities. How could you turn it into a game?







Video Game Development List on Diigo (http://www.diigo.com/list/edventures/Video-Game-Development-Resources)



Books Used in Development

The Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell

Casual Game Design by Gregory Trefary

The Art of Computer Game Design by Chris Crawford

Game Design Workshop: Designing, Prototyping, & Playtesting Games by Tracy Fullerton, Chris Swain, Steven Hoffman: Books

The Game Maker's Apprentice: Game Development for Beginners by Jacob Habgood, Mark Overmars, Phil Wilson

Game Design Course ,Principles, Practice, &Techniques-the Ultimate Guide for the Aspiring Game Designer by Barnaby Berbank-green

The Game Design Reader - The MIT Press

A Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster



Curriculum Guide


Unit 1: Learning to Play Again

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Answer 1: Design Games!

Answer 2: This you need to decide for yourself! There is no true right or wrong answer.

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