Computer Game Design

The details
Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
30 April 2019


Requisites for this module


CE317, CE318

Key module for

BSC G610 Computer Games,
BSC G612 Computer Games (Including Year Abroad),
BSC I610 Computer Games (Including Placement Year)

Module description

This module examines games theory in general, leading to computer games in particular. This in turn leads to an extended, practical consideration of computer game design.

Module aims

This module aims to evaluate the mechanics of a game, gameplay elements & game theory, the relationship of story / game, computer games & culture, and produce a specification for a computer game.

Module learning outcomes

After completing this module, students will be expected to be able to:

1. Evaluate the mechanics of a game.
2. Explain gameplay elements in terms of game theory.
3. Describe the relationship of story and computer games.
4. Outline the place of computer games in the context of wider culture.
5. Create an outline design spec for a computer game of their own devising.

Module information

Outline Syllabus

Theories of game
Definition of "game"
History of computer games
Game mechanics
Fun: flow, presence, immersion
Story structure: Aristotle, Syd Field
Game criticism
Sources of uncertainity

Basics of game design
Philosophy of computer game design
Design documentation: pitch, treatment, spec, doc
Narrative, backstory and history
Game theory
Core gameplay
Contextual gameplay
Platforms; Localisation

Game development
Industry overview
Development timeline
Divisions of a game development company
Game development post-mortems

Learning and teaching methods

Lectures and Classes 20 hours of lectures 20 hours of classes


  • Koster, Raph. (2013) A theory of fun for game design, Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly Media Inc.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Assignment 1: Game design exercise    100% 
Exam  180 minutes during Summer (Main Period) (Main) 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
30% 70%


Coursework Exam
30% 70%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Richard Bartle, email: rabartle@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Richard Bartle
School Office, email: csee-schooloffice (non-Essex users should add @essex.ac.uk to create full e-mail address), Telephone 01206 872770



External examiner

Dr Jeremy Ian Hiller Gow
Goldsmiths College
Dr Iain Phillips
Loughborough University
Available via Moodle
Of 144 hours, 45 (31.3%) hours available to students:
99 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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