DESMA 157A: Gaming 1 (Game Design Lab), Winter 09
UCLA Design | Media Arts

Tuesday, Thursday 2:00pm – 4:45pm
Broad Art Center room 4250 , Sense Lab

Professor: Eddo Stern
TA: David Elliott

Course Description:
This course is part one of a two-course game making sequence (Gaming 1, Gaming 2). In this first course, Game design Lab,  we will focus on designing eight simple playable games, each exploring different aspects of game design such as  rule design, game balance, multiplayer stratagy, complexity, randomness, narrative, psychology, emergent behavior and aspects of physical game bit and interface design. The first part of the course will cover game design concepts through readings, presentations, play testing, and non-digital game design assignments. The second part of the course will shift towards an iterative lab-based production of simple electromechanical games that use a microcontroller as their “brain”.

Weekly assignments (65%)
Reading notes (20%)
Class participation (15%) (includes discussion, completing feedback forms and web postings)

All notes and assignments must be uploaded to the class website before the beginning of class time on the day they are due. Late projects and assignments will be penalized by one letter grade per day they are late.

More than two absences without the professor’s prior permission will lower the participant’s final grade by one unit (e.g. an A will become an B). With each additional unexcused absence, the grade will drop an additional unit.


Required Materials:
Class assignments will require the use of a range of media, and students will be expected to purchase a standardized hardware kit, which will include a microcontroller and an assortment of electromechanical components that will be used in hardware assignments. Basic electrical components and some building supplies will be available for class use from the electronics and fabrication labs. Students will be required to pay a lab fee to help restock the lab.

Required books:
Salen, Katie and Eric Zimmerman, “Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals”, MIT Press, 2004 (ISBN: 9780262240451)
(Available at the UCLA bookstore)

Banzi, Massimo, “Getting Started With Arduino”, Orielly Press, 2008 (ISBN 10: 0-596-15551-4 | ISBN 13: 9780596155513)
(available in print version online, or as a FREE pdf through the UCLA Orielly Safari books account)

Recommended books:
Caillois, Roger, “Man Play & Games”, University of Illinois Press, 2001 (ISBN: 9780252070334)
Huizinga, Johan, “Homo Ludens: A study of the play element in culture”, Beacon 1971 (ISBN: 9780807046814)
Rouse, Richard, “Game Design: Theory and Practice”, Wordware Publishing, 2001 (ISBN: 9781556229121)
Crawford, Chris, “Chris Crawford on Game Design”, New Riders Games, 2003 ( ISBN: 9780131460997
Levy, Steven , “Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution”, Penguin; 2001 (ISBN: 9780141000510)