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Page history last edited by Bill Depper 10 years, 4 months ago

Syllabus for round 6: Rapid Physical Game Design & Prototyping, and Programming for Play




(2014) Round 6 will meet in conjunction with Programming for Play, and participants are expected to be enrolled in both experiences. We will convene Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 am - 3:00 pm, inclusive of both class times. Participants will engage in collaborative design and development for both experiences.



  • To explore the creation of games through experimentation.
  • To protoype 5 games in 6 weeks. Players will make a new game each week for the first 6 weeks of the course. Each new game will be made in response to formal and conceptual parameters or challenges detailed below.
  • To prototype a 6th game during the remaining 4 weeks of class. This game will be of greater ambition, depth, and complexity.
  • To combine and recombine in collaborations to create these game prototypes.
  • To explore and learn about how to be an effective and productive collaborator through experimentation and guidance by instructors.
  • To document and disseminate our observations and games through this wiki. Each player will document their games by uploading their rule sets and material parameters to pages that link off of their respective Players pages. Each Player is charged with becoming a reflective player. Players should record their observations and comments on games they have played inside and outside of the lab and then share these observations verbally and online through the comments capability of the wiki. It is the responsibility of each respective Player to document the feedback they receive and include it on the page for their game(s).


Methods and Assessment

  1. Games are experiential in nature and can only be assessed by and through play.
    1. Players will gather in the lab for collaborative assessment twice a week.
    2. Designers are not allowed to play their own game for purposes of assessment.
  2. Participating game designers agree to be listed on the Players page.
  3. Participating game designers agree to be open to constructive comments and critiques by the other participating designers.
  4. All participants agree that constructive comments and critiques are meant to:
    1. help improve the gameplay of a designer's game,
    2. share a player's reflections of gameplay and engagement,
    3. contribute to the building of critical vocabularies for game design.
  5. Game names and rules remain the property of the their respective participating designers who are the definitive arbiter of those rules.
  6. participating game designers agree to allow us to publish their games and rules on TakeTurns wiki and will receive proper credit for their creations.
  7. Players will play reflectively
  8. Players will be assumed to be playing to win, unless they proclaim their intention to do otherwise
  9. Non-players will actively observe games as they are played
  10. Players and non-players will offer observations and constructive critiques to the designer
  11. Designers, players and non-players will record their observations in their notebooks and upload them as comments to the TakeTurns wiki
  12. Role(s) of the player:
    1. play to win
    2. play to draw
    3. play to lose
    4. play to spoil
    5. play "against the text"
    6. all these imply an ethic of competition
  13. We will engage in collaborative design & development
  14. We will combine and recombine collaborative groupings with each of the first five challenges/projects
  15. Players agree to document the composition of their collaborative groups and to credit their playtesters via the online Collaboration Matrix (read only version to be added)
  16. Players agree to document and assess the efforts of their collaborators anonymously via the online Collaboration Peer Review for Round 6
  17. Players agree to collaborate with no fewer than five other Players by week six



  • there exist two primary levels of difficulty for a designer:
  1. is it fun for me?
  2. is it fun for someone else?
  • the latter is particularly hard for a designer to achieve, even within the industry
  • there are imperfect ways to measure "goodness" in game design:
  1. willingness of someone to play through to the end
  2. willingness of someone to play again
  3. willingness of someone to introduce the game to someone else
  • there exists room to improve on these



  1. Yourself
  2. Your laptop equipped with Unity
  3. game bits/tokens/props of sundry shapes and sizes



  1. Lessons in Collaboration: How To Make A Partnership Work. National Center for Technology Innovation. October 2005.
  2. Bill Buxton and Sketch-a-Move  : example of a theoretical idea sketch, getting your ideas out into the world.
  3. Steamboat Willie 
  4. George Carlin on Football and Baseball 
  5. 4kcompetition
  6. Don't Taunt the Happy Fun Ball (SNL parody commercial on YouTube), WikiPedia entry, SNL transcripts
  7. Work In Progress Bibliography 1
  8. Work In Progress Bibliography 2
  9. Csikszentmihalyi on the concept of Flow, diagram from Finding Flow on wikipedia
  10. Various authors’ thoughts on the craft of writing rules for games


Challenges for round 6, 2014.01-2014.03 (these may evolve as we proceed)

Formal constraints are traction — Bill Depper

  1. Create a game that makes use of two bodies, a single mechanic, and a spatial envelope of 8 x 8 x 8 feet. The mechanic and dynamic must be non-agressive. Collaborate with two others to create this game, to form a group of three people.
  2. Form a six (6) person collaborative group. Create a game that involves four (4) humans interacting and playing within an 8 x 8 x 8 foot bounding cube. Gameplay may involve two (2) props of the same kind, but which cannot be the object or goal of the game. The game should be self-evaluating, that is to say it should require no referee to judge end states. The temporal envelope should be carved into 30-second increments/events. 
  3. Form a three (3) person collaborative  group. Create a game that involves five (5) bodies/players, all with equivalent roles, all interacting within a 16 x 16 x 8 foot maximum spatial envelope. Gameplay may involve a number of props -- limited only by practicality -- of no more than two (2) kinds. The maximum temporal envelope will be 15 minutes for a game to play to completion. The game should be easy to learn but difficult to master.
  4. Form a collaborative group of six. Design an eight player game that will take place in two non-contiguous spaces of 8' x 16' x 8' each. Line of sight between the two spaces is optional. Players must remain within the space where they begin the game for the entire run of play. Two non-player runners can be enlisted to communicate between the spaces. Gameplay must be continuous, simultaneous. The activities in each space must affect or influence each other. Props may not be used as projectiles, nor as semaphores. The temporal envelope for setup, play, teardown, and reset of the space cannot exceed 30 minutes.
  5. Final Challenge:
    This is a combined challenge that spans EDPX 3100 Programming for Play and EDPX 3110 Rapid Physical Game Design and Prototyping.

    Collaborative groups of 4 will be formed through a silent draft process coordinated by the game masters, Depper and Fajardo. Three “pickers” will be chosen by the game masters, after which a private selection process will occur. A period of seven calendar days will be allowed for any trades of personnel, if necessary. Trades should be seen as an exception, and not as a given. All trades must be approved by the game masters. Teams should be balanced for the skills of programming, design, and art.

    The Conceptual Constraint: games created must engage either the theme of Sharing, or the theme of Wistfulness. This engagement must be expressed overtly and palpably.

    The Formal Constraints: games created must employ the Kinect sensor and a large-scale projection in ways that are responsive to bodies moving in space.
    Games must involve at least three (3) players.
    Gameplay must be simultaneous, but may have rhythmic intervals.
    Games created have to run without errors for the final presentation.
    Games must honor a 45 minute temporal envelope, inclusive of setup, gameplay, teardown, and reset of the play space.
    Games must have a minimum spatial envelope of 16’ on one side x 8’ tall to accommodate the projection screen. Additional spaces can be used, whether contiguous or non-contiguous.
    Games must be programmed for 2D, or 2.5D spatial projection.
    Games should be programmed to employ the Unity platform for gameplay. They may make use of supplemental libraries and environments.

    Gone Orthogonal: Meaningfully making use of both themes
    Bit Shifter: Electronic wireless networking of non-contiguous spaces
    Untethered Control: Meaningfully makes use of wireless controllers, or portable wireless control surfaces such as Wiimotes, PS3 controllers, Wireless XBOX360 controllers, or tablet-based controls
    Hydra Mator: Ambitious projections that make use of the Matrox Triple Head (warning, this is highly unstable and should not be a mission critical deployment)
    Flipping the bird: Use of Twitter Library, or other social libraries, for spectator participation for either judging or for altering the game experience (e.g. change level based on hash-tag)
    Studio54: Ambient lighting shift using the DMX protocols

    A penalty will be assessed for disintegration of collaborative group. Play nice, share your toys.

    A penalty will be assessed for game mechanics that look or play like a known game.

    A penalty will be assessed for not meeting the formal constraints.

    A penalty will be assessed for not meeting the conceptual constraint.




     Daniel H

     Daniel G



Additional Challenge for Graduate Students

Graduate students enrolled are required to complete an additional challenge. They must read and lead a seminar session one or more of the following:

  1. Samuel Beckett as a gamer
  2. Fluxus event-scores as games



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