Game Design 4: Serious Games Design

7.5 credits

Syllabus, Bachelor's level, 5SD067

A revised version of the syllabus is available.
Education cycle
First cycle
Main field(s) of study and in-depth level
Game Design G1F
Grading system
Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
Finalised by
The Department Board, 1 November 2017
Responsible department
Department of Game Design

General provisions

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 Management, 180 Credits and Game Design, 180 Credits

Entry requirements

Game Design 3 - System Design, 15 credits

Learning outcomes

Upon completing the course, students will be able to:

  • Display an understanding of Systems Thinking,
  • display an ability to apply standard design techniques to serious subjects,
  • display an ability to discuss meaningfully with subject matter experts, and
  • display an ability to develop a prototype of a serious application.


The course teaches the application of game design theory in development of games and gamified experiences for purposes beyond entertainment. Serious Games Design builds extensively on prior knowledge, and courses. Students need to have a working knowledge of the Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics framework, the AARRR framework and understand how to use Ludemes to model game systems effectively.

The course introduces the practice of modelling real world systems for games, which requires abstraction. Students learn to identify systems which are suitable for games or, conversely, what systems can be made into engagement and feedback systems and become more gamelike. The course examines James Paul Gee’s notion of literacy and semiotic domains, grounding student’s knowledge and understanding of games as an expert knowledge in and of itself. This affords students the ability to recognise other subjects as a knowledge domain that can be analysed and translated. Additionally, the course teaches fundamental application of production methods (lean, scrum, kanban) to display how visible, testable development is vital for serious game development.

Once students have a basic understanding of these subjects they are introduced to stakeholders from other knowledge domains, with problems that could be solved with game design. These stakeholders present their problem and are questioned by the students. Once students have an understanding of the problem, they develop concepts for solutions to that problem, which are presented to the stakeholders. The final assignment is to apply the skills they have been taught in the course and, in groups, develop a serious game - be that a gamified system, or an actual game, in a subject of their choice.


Teaching consists of lectures, practical exercises and workshops.


For the grade Pass, a student needs at least the grade Pass in all three assessments. For the grade Pass with Distinction, a student needs at least the grade Pass with Distinction on the presentation of their analysis-study


Students are assessed on their ability to apply systems thinking and game design techniques to other subject matters as well as meaningfully discuss with subject matter experts in workshops. In one day workshops, students are given problems to whom the students also present game design solutions.

Analysis Study

Students are assessed on their ability to apply game design techniques and systems thinking to other subject areas by presenting an analysis of academic papers from other academic fields, discussing how game design could be applied to these areas.


In the final assignment, students are assessed on their ability to apply systems thinking, apply game design techniques to other subject matters and their ability to develop a serious games prototype, through the production of a serious games prototype.

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 takes cheating and plagiarism seriously and disciplinary actions will be taken against students suspected of being involved in any form of cheating and / or plagiarism. The disciplinary measurements are warning and shutdown for a limited time

NB: Only a completed course may be counted towards a degree

No reading list found.