DMS 562: Game Design

Fall 2018

Course Info

When: Tuesday/Thursday 11:00am - 12:50pm
Where: CFA 242

Instructor: Dave Pape
Office: CFA 250
Office hours: T/R 9:30-11, or by appointment


Course Description

This is a course in game design. We will learn about both practical and theoretical aspects of designing a game. Important aspects are how to create something that will be both meaningful and fun to play, and how the rules and other elements of the game affect that. Central to this course are two things: understanding the fundamental formal structures of games, and learning the overall process of designing and developing new games.

In our exploration of game design, we will look at several game types, from traditional board games to the various major movements in videogame design. We will consult critical texts to illuminate our discussions of these games, as well as to provide us with direction in our own game experiments.

Students will divide into game design teams to complete the major semester project. The teams are expected to consist of 3-4 students. Some of the other assignments will be done individually.

Students in this course are expected to possess a great deal of personal initiative. You will depend greatly on your existing skills and the skills of your teammates. At the end of the course, you are expected to have a finished, documented, playable game.


Tracy Fullerton, Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games (Third Edition), 2014 (ISBN 978-1482217162)
Anna Anthropy, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters, 2012 (ISBN 978-1609803728)

Other books

Not required, but useful:

Expected schedule

Week 1 Chapter 1 (Role of a Game Designer)
Week 2 Chapter 2 (Structure of Games)
Week 3 Chapter 6 (Conceptualization / brainstorming)
Week 4 Chapter 7 (Prototyping)
Week 5 Chapter 3 (Formal Elements)
Week 6 Chapter 4 (Dramatic Elements)
Week 7 Chapter 5 (Systems)
Week 8 Chapter 8 (Digital Prototyping)
Week 9 Chapter 9 (Playtesting)
Week 10 Chapter 10 (Functionality, Completeness, & Balance)
Week 11 Chapter 14 (Design Documents)
Week 12 Chapter 11 (Fun and Accessibility)
Week 13 Chapter 12 (Team Structures)
Week 14 presentations
Week 15 wrap up
Finals week Present projects

Learning Outcomes & Assessment

Outcome Assessment
Students will be able to name and define the formal structural elements of games, such as game types, players' roles, game space, resources, etc class discussions, game analysis, team project reports
Students will be able to analyze an existing game, identifying the structural elements and how they contribute (or not) to the success of the game in-class activities, game analysis
Students will understand and be able to apply the basic iterative design process for a game, including prototyping and testing in-class activities, projects


Regular attendance is expected - you are allowed up to two free absences; after that, each absence will cost you 3% of your overall grade. Being more than 10 minutes late, sleeping through class, or using phones/tablets/computers (except as part of specific class activities) will also count as an absence.


Lab Fee

This course carries a lab fee of $125. All DMS courses with a production component are assessed this fee; the money is used to provide and maintain the equipment and software used in class.

Academic Integrity & Plagiarism

See for UB's official academic integrity policy.

Be aware that rules regarding plagiarism, cheating, etc, apply to program code in the same way as to an academic paper.


If you have a disability (physical, learning or psychological) which may make it difficult for you to carry out the course work as outlined, and/or requires accommodations such as recruiting note takers, readers, or extended time on exams and assignments, please contact the Office of Accessibility Resources, 60 Capen Hall, 645-2608, and also your instructor during the first two weeks of class. AR will provide you with information and will review appropriate arrangements for reasonable accommodations. See for more information.


See for UB's policy on 'Incomplete' grades.

Weapons as props

If you are planning a student production which involves using any prop which could be interpreted to be a weapon [toy gun, BB gun, knife, etc.] and you are planning to work on the UB campus or any other public place, you must obtain written permission from Campus Security or the equivalent authority before you start. If you do not, you will face serious problems including possible expulsion from the university.

Sexual harassment

Sexual Harassment of employees and students, as defined below, is contrary to University policy and is a violation of federal and state laws and regulations.

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

  1. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or academic advancement;
  2. submission or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting such individual;
  3. such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment

No university employee of either gender shall impose a requirement of sexual cooperation as a condition of employment or academic advancement, or in any way contribute to or support unwelcome physical or verbal sexual behavior.

Any member of the university community who requires additional information or who wishes to make a complaint or receive a copy of the University procedures to be followed for complaints arising from matters related to the policies outlined above should contact the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Affirmative Action Administration, 406 Capen Hall, 716-645-2266. See for more information.