Syllabus for Game Design 1: Introduction

Speldesign 1 - introduktion


  • 15 credits
  • Course code: 5SD065
  • Education cycle: First cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Game Design G1N

    Explanation of codes

    The code indicates the education cycle and in-depth level of the course in relation to other courses within the same main field of study according to the requirements for general degrees:

    First cycle
    G1N: has only upper-secondary level entry requirements
    G1F: has less than 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
    G1E: contains specially designed degree project for Higher Education Diploma
    G2F: has at least 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
    G2E: has at least 60 credits in first-cycle course/s as entry requirements, contains degree project for Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science
    GXX: in-depth level of the course cannot be classified.

    Second cycle
    A1N: has only first-cycle course/s as entry requirements
    A1F: has second-cycle course/s as entry requirements
    A1E: contains degree project for Master of Arts/Master of Science (60 credits)
    A2E: contains degree project for Master of Arts/Master of Science (120 credits)
    AXX: in-depth level of the course cannot be classified.

  • Grading system: Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
  • Established: 2016-02-03
  • Established by:
  • Revised: 2020-05-27
  • Revised by: The Department Board
  • Applies from: week 27, 2020
  • Entry requirements: General entry requirements and Mathematics 2a/2b/2c or Mathematics B
  • Responsible department: Department of Game Design

Decisions and guidelines

The course is part of the Bachelor's programmes Game Design and Graphics, 180 Credits, Game Design and Programming, 180 Credits, Game Design and Project Leadership, 180 Credits and Game Design, 180 Credits

Learning outcomes

Upon completing the course, students will be able to:

  • display a comprehensive practical and theoretical understanding of narrative structures in games, game mechanics, players and player types,
  • describe and apply the agile production methodology, Scrum,
  • describe and apply methods of observing and evaluating connections between game mechanics and play experiences in simple game systems,
  • express themselves in speech and writing in basically correct English both in situational and academic contexts,
  • explain and apply methods for producing academic texts.


The course begins by defining what games are, both from a research point of view and as a cultural expression. It continues with the application of basic tools for systems analysis used to break down and analyse games as systems. This method is then used to break down narrative structures and character design.

All-embracing design principles such as 'form follows function' are introduced as is the application of forms of expression in artistic design. The course introduces the abstract design tool MDA, used to analyse and correlate the connection between mechanics and how games are experienced.

The course is divided into three projects, starting with a group project where students develop games in groups. The second project has students creating an individual digital game using a game engine. The third project introduces playtesting as a method of study and asks students to devise a research question and then perform a small study using playtesting. The study is documented in a promemoria.

Students utilize the Agile production method, Scrum to complete their projects. Students use the method to reflect on their work with respect to their own learning, and work processes, situating the theory within practice.

Project 1: Prototyping 5 credits
Assesses learning outcomes in relation to game mechanics, narrative and the correlation between game mechanics and play experiences.

Project 2: Digital Game  5 credits
Assesses learning outcomes in relation to Scrum, game mechanics, narrative structures as well as the correlation between game mechanics and play experiences.

Project 3: Playtest and Study 5 credits
Assesses all learning outcomes.

Theory learned during the course will be applied in a final project which will lead to a concept document to be presented verbally and reflected upon in writing.


Instruction takes place through lectures and workshops as well as seminars and supervised project work.


Examination takes place at the end of every project, and is carried out through a review seminar. The final project is also examined with a written report. For module 1 and module 2, a student can achieve the grades Fail or Pass. For module 3, students can achieve the grade Fail, Pass or Pass with Distinction. For the grade Pass, students need at least the grade Pass on all three modules. For the grade Pass with Distinction, the student needs to achieve at least Pass on all modules and the grade Pass with Distinction on Module 3.
If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the University´s disability coordinator.
Uppsala University does not accept cheating or plagiarism. Suspected incidents of cheating or plagiarism are reported to the Vice-Chancellor, which may issue a formal warning to the student or suspend the student from studies for a certain period.
NOTE: Only completed courses can count toward a degree.

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: week 36, 2020

  • Adams, Ernest. Fundamentals of game design

    2. ed.: Berkeley, Calif.: New Riders, cop. 2010

    Or the latest edition is also accepted.

    Find in the library


  • Lidwell, William.; Holden, Kritina.; Butler, Jill Universal principles of design : 125 ways to enhance usability, influence perception, increase appeal, make better design decisions, and teach through design

    Rev. and updated ed.: Gloucester, Mass.: Rockport, 2010

    Find in the library


  • Hunicke, Robin; LeBlanc, Marc; Zubek, Robert MDA : A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research

    Part of:


    Menlo Park, Calif.: AAAI Press, 2004


    Find in the library


  • Gingold, Chaim What WarioWare can teach us about Game Design

    Institutionen för speldesign, 2005

    Game Studies: the international journal of computer game research

  • Anthropy, Anna Game Design Vocabulary: Exploring the Foundational Principles Behind Good Game Design


    Find in the library