Game Design

ARTS 4510
Wed 2 - 5:50PM

VAST Studio, Sage 2411


c. Nova Radix EGD Sp2008 (Ian Keyworth, Chris Mui, Rory Pelner Ray Coulter)



Kathleen Ruiz
Associate Professor of Integrated Arts
email: ruiz@rpi.edu  
phone: 518-276-2539
office: West Hall 314c
office hours: Tuesdays 1:30 – 3:30 PM by appointment
(please sign up on office door)


Student Mentors:

Atira Odhner odhnea@rpi.edu

Justin White whitej5@rpi.edu

James Kane kanej7@rpi.edu



Experimental Game Design is a studio arts course focusing on the creation of innovative workable game prototypes using a variety of multimedia approaches, methodologies and materials. Games are analyzed as cultural artifacts reflecting behavior, social formation, and the representation of gender, ethnicity and identity. Factors in game design including flow, game theory, and game play gestalt are taken into consideration. The aesthetics of game design including character development, level design, game play experience, and delivery systems are covered. Alternate gaming paradigms such as first person actor type games, social dynamics simulation, complex scenario planning, non-violent problem solving, pervasive/convergence reality, abstract play, and emerging forms are encouraged.

Primary to this course is the formation of interdisciplinary collaborative teams consisting of talents from visual and sound artists, programmers, cognitive scientists, designers, engineers, IT professionals and others. Elements of successful collaboration are covered and camaraderie of invention is encouraged.


The final project is a purposeful work which shows depth and quality of ideation, innovation and interaction. The game prototype must be functional and must be accompanied by a completed, well articulated game design document which includes:
Title of the Game, Artist Statement/Philosophy/The WHY Factor (why create this game? why would someone want to play it?), Predecessors or previous games/ distinctive factors in this genre, Target Audience, Introduction & Story, Immediate and long term projected socio/cultural project impact, Delivery System & Requirements, Interface, User Interaction, The World Layout, Level Design, Visualization (characters, flow charts), Music/ Sound Design, Rules and Game play (Setup, Scoring (if applicable)), Program Structure, Technical Specs (such as Physics, Rendering Systems, Lighting Models), Implementation, Production Timeframe, Research, and References.

Students entering the course should have a basic general awareness of contemporary socio-cultural issues, have some exposure to interactive digital simulation, and possess the ability for personal expression using any one or combinations of the following: media applications, drawing, music composition, programming, visual art or design, or narration. Students entering this course have had varied backgrounds coming from Arts, LL&C, Computer Science, Cognitive Science, Engineering, IT and other areas.

Technical Skills Covered: game design fundamentals, character development, level design, elements of interactivity, multimedia game play experience, and delivery systems.

Course Objectives/Outcomes:
1. Students will explore new approaches to the concept of “game” & “play” and start to define alternate paradigms within this emerging expressive form.
2. Students will examine the work of several artists, theoreticians, and institutions who engage in game creation.
3. Students will develop game programming or art making or design strategies which merge concept, process and form - encouraging approaches that are at once inquisitive, analytical, creative, experimental and articulate

4. Upon successful completion of the course students will demonstrate one or more of the following: artmaking, or programming skills, or design skills as evidenced in the final project, a functional, purposeful work which shows depth and quality of ideation, innovation and interaction.

5. Additionally upon successful completion of the course students will a detailed and elaborated game design document, summation sheet, and poster.

Previous Student work:








Suggested further readings:


Wardrip-Fruin, Noah   and Pat Harrigan, Editors. First Person: New Media as Story, Performance and Game http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=9908


Laurel, Brenda and Zimmermanm, Eric, editors.  Play as Design


Halter, Ed.  From Sun Tzu to Xbox: War and Video Games


Huizinga, Johan. Homo Ludens: A study of the Play Element in Culture


Caillois, Roger. Man, Play, and Games

Lenoir-Lowood. Theaters Of War


Adams, Ernest. Fundamentals of Game Design, Second Edition


Jenkins, Henry.  Complete Freedom of Movement: Video Games as Gendered PlaySpaces


Baudrillard, Jean. Passwords (including the Oxymoron of Virtual Violence)