University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Casual Game Design

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Institute of Digital Games

DESCRIPTION This study-unit specifically focuses on the relatively new and increasingly more economically influential sector of ‘casual videogames’ (or rather occasional videogames). Casual games are a particular type of videogames that, with the objective to appeal to a broader audience, focus on simplicity, accessibility and replayability. They traditionally combine the simple mechanical behaviors and conventional language of early arcade games with qualities that were traditionally ascribed to solitaire games, puzzle games and pinball games.

The study-unit will tackle not only the formal aspects of casual games, but also its more modern connections with behavioral psychology, with the persuasive/propagandistic use of gaming technology and conventions, with game user studies and, marginally, with philosophy of technology.

Its learning goals will be both analytical and synthetic, meaning that it will combine theoretical (bibliographical, ludographical) knowledge with practical design exercises meant at deconstructing and reproducing casual approaches to game design.

Study-unit Aims:

The aim of this study-unit is that of providing the students with the practical ability to analyze and design a CASUAL VIDEO GAME as a product as well as a cultural artefact.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will:
- Be able to understand the essential ludological structures which are recurring in contemporary casual games and being able to both use them as analytical and design tools;
- Be able to demonstrate critical thought, a deep understanding of professional lexicon, and capability of directing one’s own learning process;
- Have a professional appreciation of the casual games sector and its growing impact and involvement with socio-cultural processes such as education, propaganda, gambling, etc.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Produce the essential documentation required for developing a visual prototype and elaborate fundamental ideas regarding the contents of a casual game;
- Recognize and reproduce basic behavioural and psychological tools used to attract gamers and keep them interested in an interactive digital experience;
- Apply casual game mechanics and design strategies to contexts outside of digital entertainment.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- Jesper Juul, A Casual Revolution, MIT Press, 2009.
- Optional: Jesse Schell, The Art of Game Design: a Book of Lenses, M&K, 2007 (or more recent editions of the same text).
- Essay, papers, videos and articles provided by Stefano during the lectures. (Also available online)

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Independent Study, Seminar and Tutorial

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation No 15%
Assignment Yes 35%
Examination (2 Hours) Yes 50%

LECTURER/S Stefano Gualeni
Antonios Liapis

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.
Semester 1 Exams 2017/18
The January 2018 Exam Timetable is available here.
Semester 2 Timetable, 2017-18
Click here to access the Semester 2 timetable.
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