How Do I Game Design? Understand people through game design

Paris Buttfield-Addison, Secret Lab Pty. Ltd., Australia

In this hands-on tutorial, you’ll learn about game design: the art and science of constructing enjoyable, engaging games. We aren’t doing programming, and we’re not talking game engine development, or anything like – instead, we’ll be taking a deep dive into game design theory, using it to understand how people interact with rules, and how to use it to improve your projects, whether they're games or not.

Video games are the most glamorous of the electronic arts, but splashy graphics and amazing sound aren’t the defining feature of games. Games are the world’s only interactive artistic medium, and good interaction needs to be designed. Today’s master crafters of interaction design are game designers.

In this tutorial, you’ll get a fresh perspective on user experience design and community engagement by understanding how people are interacting with the fastest-growing form of entertainment in the world.

Topics covered in this tutorial include:

* Why games work, and how to analyse and build engaging experiences
* The Mechanics-Dynamics-Aesthetics framework: what it’s good for, and how to use it
* How to deconstruct a game and understand what makes it fun
* How to modify an existing game and know what you’re doing

We’ll take this knowledge and apply it to real world examples in the realms of UX and UI design, community management, project management, as well as examples from the game development industry. We’ll be working with paper, pens, and scissors, and you’ll build, analyse and deconstruct actual games during the tutorial. Everything you learn is applicable to building software, games, or activities for museums or cultural institutions.

We've presented versions of this in the past (e.g. and its based on our years of work in building games for children. The workshop is also inspired by formal research into game design such as "MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research" by Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc, and Robert Zubek (