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The University of British Columbia

Worldbuilding for Video Games

The University of British Columbia via edX


A game’s setting is second in importance only to the game’s player character - and some say it’s more important. Game designers must create a compelling new world that players will want to explore and inhabit for many, many hours.

Game writing is a collaborative process, and worlds are designed with input from art directors, level designers, and even marketing teams. But writers have an integral role in making these worlds feel rich, deep and believable.

In this course you’ll learn to use the tools of environmental storytelling, lore, readables and audio/video logs to help create a memorable game setting.

Verified learners will access additional game industry interviews, assignments and discussion topics, connecting with a community of other writers and game enthusiasts.


Module 1: Creating a Compelling Game World

  • The imagination space - from the game map to player POV to game economies
  • Getting started: what's the hook, and how do you find inspiration?

Module 2: Creating Fictional Worlds

  • Defining scope and producing the illusion of a larger world
  • Collaborative worldbuilding
  • How to create mystery and shape player decisions
  • Working with established worlds

Module 3: Populating Your World

  • Fictional races, cultures and languages
  • Fictional places and historical research
  • Fictional beasts
  • Weapons, equipment, technology and vehicles

Module 4: Animating Your World

  • Depicting day-to-day life
  • Using environment to motivate exploration
  • Soundscapes and audio/video logs
  • Found narrative

Module 5: Finessing Your World

  • Genre considerations - how the genre (SF, Horror, etc) influences setting
  • Common challenges
  • Getting players invested in your world

Taught by

Peter Boychuk


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