University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Game Design

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Institute of Digital Games

DESCRIPTION This study-unit will provide the foundational technical and theoretical knowledge to pursue core game design tasks such as pitching, prototyping, iterating, documenting and rudimentary target-audience analysis and quality assurance procedures (QA). In terms of its academic foundations, this study-unit will rely on game studies (in particular Ludology and GUR), on existing design theories (either specific to game design or in common with other design fields such as architecture or industrial design), and on basic notions of media theory and philosophy of technology.

The many analytical and practical skills presented and tested by this study-unit will be constructive for several other study-units, among which (most notably) Casual Game Design, Digital Prototyping and Game Development.

Among the topics treated in the individual lectures of 'Game Design': documentation for the games industry, iteration, prototyping, game tuning, multiplayer game balancing, resources in games, conflict patterns in games, mechanics, dynamics, aesthetics, et cetera.

Study-Unit Aims:

'Game Design' is oriented towards the professional practice of designing board games and video games, in the sense that both in its practical sides and in its theoretical ones it will prepare the students to perform tasks and activities that professional game designers and game producers customarily engage in on a daily basis.

In doing so, it will also pursue the exercise and the refinement of critical thought both as a design tool and in the direction of the practice of game design (as well as its cultural impact and relevance).

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Perform a functional analysis of a game (on the basis of ludology);
- Produce professional and well-informed criticism on the contradictions, the appropriateness (in relation to target audience), and on cognitive / narrative dissonances present in a certain game idea or product;
- Acquire specific lexicon of both game design and foundational game production;
- Constructively formulate and receive the feedback and meaningful responses to both the criticism of supervisors and peers;
- Acquire additional theoretical notions and frameworks to understand videogames, their design and the processes involved in their creation.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Develop efficient, functional and well written documentation both for internal documents (design document, treatment document) and for external ones (concept document) + Demonstrate well-honed presentation and pitching skills;
- Take the necessary steps to develop a full design from a concept document (including meaningfully responding to the criticism of their supervisors and peers);
- Produce a series of prototypes built and derived by theoretical insights, empirical (and occasionally statistical) observations, and through iterative process;
- Motivate and explain design choices on the basis of factual observations and theoretical frameworks.

Main Text/s:

- Jesse Schell, The Art of Game Design: a Book of Lenses, M&K, 2007 (or later editions).
- Koster, Raph, ‘A Theory of Fun for game design, Paraglyph, 2004 (or later editions).
- Optional: Optional: Fullerton, Swain, Hoffman, “Game Design Workshop”, CMP books, 2004 (or later editions).
- Essay, papers, videos and articles provided by the lecturer. (also available online)

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Fieldwork, Lecture, Independent Study & Project

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 15%
Presentation No 15%
Examination (2 Hours) Yes 15%
Artefact Yes 55%

LECTURER/S Stefano Gualeni

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
May 2017 - Examinations Schedule
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