GAME ON: A No-Tech Introduction to the Art of Game Design

, Learning Revolutionary

"Let my playing be my learning, and my learning be my playing."

Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens

If you're a game-lover, if you're the type of person who “plays by her own rules,” if you've ever thought about how to combine Chess and Checkers to create a brand new game (Cheskers?), then this is a class for you! 

In this hands-on workshop, we'll discuss the many kinds of games out there to be designed, prototype and test some games of our own, and then analyze our games to determine how we might take them to the next level. 

No previous game design experience is necessary, just an open mind and a playful spirit. In fact, everyone will have previous game design experience, because life itself is a game. As Dutch social theorist Johan Huizinga wrote, way back in 1938, "We have to conclude that civilization is, in its earliest phases, played. It does not come from play like a baby detaching itself from the womb: it arises in and as play, and never leaves it." 

After this class, you'll see new game opportunities everywhere–in the office, in traffic, on a trip, or on a date. Play on, players!

  • GAME ON: A No-Tech Introduction to the Art of Game Design


    Coming soon...

    The class goes like this:

    1. We'll talk about games and the principles behind them, making reference to the SCVNGR "game mechanics" playbook, game designer Raph Koster's A Theory of Fun, and game designer Jesse Schell's The Art of Game Design, with its infinitely useful Deck of Lenses.  
    2. I'll explain the process and parameters of the design challenge. We'll break up into groups and begin brainstorming problem statements for possible game prototypes.
    3. After ten minutes of brainstorming, teams will decide on a problem statement and begin designing a game around it. Through experimentation, playtesting and discussion, teams will iterate and evolve a playable (and hopefully enjoyable) game. 
    4. At the end of design time, teams will write out the rules to be photocopied and exchanged with other teams. 
    5. Teams will explain their games. We'll play each other's games, and take note of what works well and what doesn't (no prototype is perfect!).
    6. With the help of Schell's Deck of Lenses, we'll take a second (and third, and fourth) look at our new creations to examine how they can best fulfill the functions of great games.
    7. You'll leave with the rulesets to a bunch of new games to play, and with new ideas about making games.

    Coming Soon...

Mat Cusick

Learning Revolutionary

Mat Cusick is a lifelong game-player and teacher of many things. As a kid, he loved to spend time with friends altering the rules to Risk, making new board games, and playing their own advanced version of RoShamBo called DragonBall. As an “adult,” Mat has explored the four corners of the education industry, working as a classroom teacher, private tutor, athletic instructor, debate coach, nonprofit educational program director, and founder of a cultural center in Mexico. He has helped elementary school students to fundraise and design community service projects, organized middle school students to write and shoot a short film (satirizing their teachers), taught high school students to rock out on the guitar, trained college students to teach free test prep classes, and guided adults of all ages find their perfect tennis serve.

Mat's favorite game is definitely tennis, which he has sought to explore from every angle he can: as a competitive youth player, as a high school coach, as a private instructor, as a ballperson for the U.S. Open, and as the tennis office administrator during the launch of the John McEnroe Tennis Academy in New York. He currently runs an education research and redesign project called Research & Develop, and an arts education foundation called the Q Arts Foundation.

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