Syllabus for Game Design 3: System Design

Speldesign 3 - systemdesign

A revised version of the syllabus is available.


  • 15 credits
  • Course code: 5SD066
  • Education cycle: First cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Game Design G1F

    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: 2017-02-22
  • Established by: The Department Board
  • Revised: 2018-03-28
  • Revised by: The Department Board
  • Applies from: week 31, 2018
  • Entry requirements: Game Design 2: Game Development, 7.5 credits
  • Responsible department: Department of Game Design

Learning outcomes

Upon completing the course, students will be able to:

  • display a practical and theoretical understanding of how to structure game systems to achieve specific expressions to to convey specific ideas,
  • display a practical and theoretical understanding of how environments and player actions in games can be designed to convey narrative,
  • describe and evaluate connections between game mechanics and play experiences in complex game systems,
  • display an ability to discuss business oriented metric frameworks and their effect on the game design requirements as well as an ability to analyse their design using such frameworks,
  • communicate and visualise complex game designs,
  • create a multiplayer board game conveying a specific aesthetic, as defined by the Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics framework,
  • design and perform tests to measure the correlation between player perception, dynamics, and player experience, as well as be able to discuss the impact of this correlation in specific contexts,



The course trains the use of several abstract tools with which students analyse, evaluate and create complex game systems. Applying the Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics framework to frameworks for structuring game systems, students visualize, structure and communicate complex game systems. The purpose is to gain an understanding of how complicated chains of mechanics affect intuitiveness and ease of use of a game system, as well as the experience of the player.

Using level design tools, students design levels with the expressive goal to convey specific narratives through the environment, exercising their ability to use game systems and non-verbal communication to control the player experience.

Students test, analyse and describe a number of complex board- and digital game systems. The final project tasks students with the design, testing and critical analysis of a board game, where they apply the skills taught in the course, in order to create and visualize the game systems’ intuitiveness, ease of use and ability to convey the desired aesthetic. Students write a reflective report on the analysis and creation of the board game they produce.


Narrative 3.0 hp

Group Assignment 6.0 hp

Written Report 6.0 hp


Teaching is comprised of lectures, seminars, workshops and project work.


Assessment is of written reports, seminars and workshops.
The course grades are Pass, Pass with distinction or Fail. The student has one attempt to obtain a grade Pass with Distinction.

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.

Syllabus Revisions

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: week 27, 2019

  • Koster, Raph A theory of fun for game design

    Scottsdale, AZ: Paraglyph Press, 2005

    Find in the library

  • Swink, Steve. Game feel : a game designer's guide to virtual sensation

    Amsterdam: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers/Elsevier, cop. 2009

    Find in the library



Article: Raph Koster, 2005. A grammar of game play. Self published keynote. [Available at:]

Article: Smith, Harvey, 2010. What happened here? Environmental Storytelling. GDC vault.

Article: Superbrothers, 2017.Less talk, more rock. [Available at:]


Article: Wilcox, Steve, 2013. Procedural diegesis; Treating the game engine as co-author. [Available at:] Article: Wodtke, Christina, 2017. Five Models for Making Sense of ComplexSystems.

Article: MDA (Hunicke, LeBlanc & Zubek, 2004) Article: Cook, Daniel, 2007. The chemistry of game design. Gamasutra. [Available at:] Article: Faste, Rolf, 1997. Mind mapping. Faste foundation. [Available at:] Article: Librande, Stone, 2010. One page designs. GDC vault. [Available at:]