Before embarking on our own game design, students immersed themselves in theories and literature by some of the top game designers. In addition, every week students were exposed to a different guest speaker who explored the different elements of gaming, i.e. Augusto Boal’s “Games for Actors and Non-Actors,” Big Urban Games, CICLAVIA, and more. Finally, every two weeks students worked within different groups on rapid prototype games to give them a taste of what their larger projects would entail.
The first game type, New Rules Old Games (NROG), required students take an existing game and change the rules and still have it function as a game. The activity began with students selecting their favorite games to have the rules altered.
The second game type, Role Playing Games, engaged students in a bit of acting. This activity provided a multi-dimensional understanding of how one incident could lead to different outcomes based on people’s choices. The groups were instructed to identify the most adverse life experience of a student within their group. The group then role played the incident while the rest of the class attentively watched. After a brief discussion on the incident, the same group reenacted the same scenario. During the second reenactment, any member of the audience (other students) was encouraged to pause the role play at any point to replace one of the actors and improvise to bring about a different ending.
For the third game type, Scenario Games, students faced a challenge to create a one-player game where a player could make decisions and see the impacts of those decisions. Students were tasked with the scenario of creating a prototype in which the player would solve Los Angeles’ traffic problem. The exercise required that students incorporate basic elements of gaming design (mechanics, audience, aesthetics, and technology)
The fourth game type, Big Urban Games, required students use the environment in their game design to encourage residents to explore their city. For example, “Over The River and Through The Hoods,” is a scavenger hunt bingo that requires participants to explore the neighborhood.
The experience acquired through this process was critical for the second semester and the creation of the class’s final three games: Secret City, In Construction, and Make Your Market.