Expanding the Game Design Space - Development of computer games in higher education

Lasse Juel Larsen and Gunver Majgaard


This abstract regards game design research in educational settings. It focuses on computer game design in higher education especially education of engineers. The notion of game design space encapsulates the entire development process from beginning to end with emphasis on game design thinking in the development of computer games. Through the last fire years we have been teaching game design courses at the university. Our goal have been twofold: 1) we wanted to create an easily understandable game design model to communicate something as complex as game design and 2) make sure our students learned to act, think, and feel like game designers. In order to meet such an ambition we have over the years discovered a need for clear framing. The first year our framing of the game design process, the outcome, and game design thinking was deficient. Over the years our framing of the design space were expanded, it became better defined and multifaceted. The results in the classroom quickly materialised both in relation to development of greater games and to divergent and creative thinking in the design space.

The expanded game design space consists of four separate yet interconnected layers in the process of game development. The first layer addresses the importance of framing with a clear game design assignment, formulation of intended player experience and description of game mechanics. The second layer creates game design thinking from six different parameters of game design elected in regard to framing of the game design assignment. The third layer sees a clear correspondence between formal elements of computer games and the structure of problem-based creativity. It addresses how game design challenges can be stated and how creative solutions can be measured. The fourth and final layer demonstrates how clear framing can act as guideline for evaluating game design thinking and for measuring solutions made in development process. To strengthen our notion of expanded design space we will present examples from our game design courses.