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Indian Institute of Technology Bombay

Demystifying Board Game Design

Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and AICTE via Swayam


The course is about designing games and so, the treatment of the course is also playful. We invite you to enjoy and have fun.What appears on the screen for you in its current form is a result of experiments over 12 year now. Every year the game design elective was offered to the students. They have come up with great game ideas with two to three weeks’ full time involvement of students. All of them enjoyed these courses, and so did we.This online course captures the live actions in the course offered in January’ 2019 at IDC, IIT Bombay. So, it has the classroom lectures as well as students struggling with their projects. Besides the faculty, the students will come on the screen and talk about their experiences and exchange their ideas with you.About this online courseThis course is not a typical lecture-tutorial material. There are small and major projects spread throughout. The course switches between practice and theory, often in that order. Solving practice assignments and then revisiting theory would be a more effective way of learning game design.Theory can clarify some points, but participants cannot learn the art of designing games without attempting and failing in few. It is impossible to learn how to design a game without actually designing few games, failing and trying again. The focus is clearly on self-learning through doing. However, to help the participants in projects, it does include simple tools that could be of some use.The treatment of the lectures and concepts used are broad enough to cover the basics of game design. However, the examples and assignments deal with educational games because of the authors’ experience and expertise in that area. So, most examples cited here also belong to educational games. However, there is sufficient generic content that is useful for other games with fun and entertainment as objectives.Game design is a unique type of design problem, demanding a different design approach. Anybody with interest in play and games can come up with good game ideas and they often have. The course is an attempt to demystify game design and also suggests a design process.Special noteIt is possible to register for this course as an individual, if you are motivated by the idea of designing games. However, it is easier to go through the project assignments as a group activity. A group of three is ideal. You cannot prove a game design idea without play-testing it, and you need group to participate in play sessions. So, try and get at least two more students interested to join you.


Module 0- Introduction

About the Course
Course Contents


Phase 1 Introduction

Module 1- Play & Learn

LEC 1: Why Demystify Game Design?

Resource: Students'work in game design at IDC school of design

LEC 2: Games, Play & Education

Resource ALM 1: Video: Forest Kindergarten

ALM 2: Video: Excerpt from Michael Moore's film ‘Where to Invade Next’ (Finland education system)

ALM 3: Video: Turning trash into toys for learning | Arvind Gupta

LEC 3: First Game design Assignment

Resource: Group Assignment 1

LEC 4: DEMO: Self Play Testing of Zero Cost Games

Resource: On Play Testing

Module 2- Games, Play & Learning

LEC 1: Understanding the Essence of Games

Resource: Why design a zero cost game?

LEC 2: Games & Education

Resource: Why games in education?

Resource: Educational games and learning

Resource: How does learning occur?

Resource: Understanding play

Resource: Play-n-learn and cognitive development

Resource: Facets of playfulness

Resource: Games with a purpose

Resource: Design opportunities

LEC 3: Journey of Game Design Course

Resource: My encounters with game design

Resource: Teaching game design - Second accident

Resource: Practice to teaching to theory

Module 3- What Makes a Game a Game?

LEC 1: Developing a Challenge

Resource: Defining Games

LEC 2: What Makes a Game a Game- Part I

Resource: What makes game a game?

LEC 3: What Makes a Game a Game- Part II

LEC 4: What Makes a Game a Game- Part III (Games, races & puzzles)

Resource: Games, races, puzzles and gamification

Module 4 - Test of the Pudding

LEC 1: Initiating Play Testing of Games

Resource: On play testing

Resource: Links to additional zero cost examples

LEC 2: DEMO 1: Play Testing of Word Building Game

LEC 3: DEMO 2: Play Testing of Game on Geometric Shapes

Resource: Why design a zero cost game?

Resource: Video: Games on Hereditary Traits

LEC 4: Reflecting on Play Testing

Module 5 - Never Leave a Good Game Alone

LEC 1: Design Scope in Redesigning Games

LEC2: DEMO 1: Redesigning Scrabble

LEC 3: DEMO 2: Redesigning Tic Tac Toe

Resource: Video: Redesigning Monopoly

Resource: Video: Redesigning Jenga

Resource: Video: Redesigning Abalon

LEC 4: Reflecting on Student Presentations of Redesigned Games

Resource: Design redesign: Why redesign games?


A short overview of phase I

Phase 2 Introduction

Module 6- Technicalities of game design

LEC 1: Terminologies- 1

Resources: Terminologies I

LEC 2: Terminologies- 2

Resources: Terminology II

LEC 3: Designing a new game from scratch

Module 7- Play of conflict and uncertainty

LEC 1: Creating conflicts and the role of uncertainty

Resource: From artificial conflict to uncertainty

Resource: Generating a good conflict

Resource: Designing game is designing game mechanics

Resource: Complexity of games

Resource: Why offer choices to players

LEC 2: Uncertainty principles

Resources: Uncertainty as a temporal experience

Resource: Injecting uncertainty

LEC 3: Locating inequality-equality cycle in games

ALM 1: Video: Locate inequality-equality cycle Group 1 (Group –Word formation)

ALM 2: Video: Locate inequality-equality cycle Group 2 (Group- Geometric shapes)

ALM 3: Video: Locate inequality-equality cycle Group 3 (Group- Hereditary traits)

Module 8- How Influencers Manage Uncertainty

LEC 1: Introduction to Influencers

Resource: Glimpses of key influencers in action

LEC 2: Use of Thinking

Resource: Games as a cerebral act 1

LEC 3: Use of Skills

Resource: Games as a corporal act

Resource: Can corporal drive the cerebral?

LEC 4: Use of Knowledge and Memory

Resource: Games as a cerebral act II

Resource: Awareness of gameplays and players

LEC 5: Use of Chance

Resource: Give chance a chance

Resource: Influencers in edu-games

Resource: Completing the influencer story

Module 9- How things fall in place

Lec 1: Introducing game design process

Resource:Game and problem solving

Lec 2: Revisiting educational goals

Lec 3: Design process: Building a game

Lec 4: Revising game dynamics

Resource: On play testing

Lec 5: Infrastructure

Lec 6: Major project: Discussion and brain storming

Resource: levels of identity

Resource: Redesign and design of games

Module 9 [annex 1] : Play testing of major project

Lec 1: Play testing – Rajneeti

Lec 2: Play testing – Race-cue

Lec 3: Play testing – Oasis

Lec 4: Play testing – Smacklet

Lec 5: Conclusion

Module 9 [annex 2] : Playing with Senior students

Lec 1: Play test with senior students - Rajneeti

Lec 2: Play test with senior students - Smacklet

Lec 3: Play test with senior students – Farmoney & oasis

Module 10 - How things don't fall into place easily

Lec 1: Design process-alternative starts

Lec 2: And the winner is / Forms of conflicts

Lec 3: Chris Crawford _ what makes game a game - Minimum condition to qualify as a game

Lec 4: What makes a good game

Lec 5: Get Set Go

Module 11 - And the winner is ….

Lec 1: The last inning

Lec 2: Final presentation _ Rajneeti

Lec 3: Final presentation – Race-cue


Taught by

Prof. Uday Athavankar and Prof. Prasad Bokil

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