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Digital Games: Theory and Design MA

Course Description

Digital games have become an important and innovative part of contemporary popular culture, out-competing cinema in terms of revenue. Commercial games may in part be the result of market forces but they are also products of a marriage between art, design and computational form.

What is it that makes for a good game design and good gameplay? What cultural and social values do games carry in terms of their design and form? What types of theories and concepts might we use to help make games that engage and excite players?

This new and innovative masters programme will help you to answer such questions through intensive creative game-making as well as providing the opportunity for you to reflect in theoretically informed ways on your own creative practice and on your own experience of playing games. The programme is taught by game design professionals and theorists who have played significant roles in developing digital game studies as an academic discipline. It offers a unique opportunity for you to analyse in depth what constitutes good game design through a range of practical exercises and written papers. Whether you have experience of making game mods, are already working in the industry, or you are a games’ enthusiast without a technical background, this programme is designed to appeal to those with a desire to explore game design, the theories behind such designs and the place of games in culture.

This Master of Arts programme is designed for those with an interest in the design and cultural significance of digital games. Students will engage in, and experiment with, practical games creation, with workshops led by designers working in the industry, as well as exploring a range of theories and concepts with which to analyse the values of games, play and pleasure.

The programme will be delivered by a team of experienced games researchers, some of whom have played a pioneering role in making digital game studies a new academic discipline. You will engage with a range of game types and styles, from first person shooters to massively multiplayer role-playing games. This MA focuses on conceptual game design as opposed to software development/programming, unlike many MScs focused on interactive media. We take a back-to-basic-principles approach to game design, something often advocated by key industry figures looking for innovation in the field, which will allow you to gain a deep understanding of the fundamental principles of creating original, enjoyable and challenging games.

Game Design I
Investigates the principles behind the rules and play of games. A detailed study of how games function to create experiences, including rule design, play, mechanics/structure, game balancing, social game interaction and the integration of textual strategies to create the gaming experience.

Critical Approaches
Explores the criticism and analysis of games. A detailed study and evaluation of the different methodological and theoretical approaches used in the study of games/videogames.

Game Design II
Building on work in Game Design I students will develop, individually, a design for a game for a particular platform (phone, PC, handheld, console etc). The game can be delivered in digital format for those with technical skills or as a storyboard, character profiles, visual ‘mood board’/style palette, sound-effects/music profiling. The project will demonstrate practical application of ideas explored in Critical Approaches.

Socio-Cultural Contexts
Provides theoretical frameworks used in the analysis of the relationships between games and social-cultural contexts. A detailed study of work conducted on the social-cultural implications of games from across a range of disciplines. There is a focused study of an existing MMoRPG (massively multiplayer on-line role-playing game).

A dissertation of 15,000 – 20,000 words or 10,000 words with practical component delivered in either digital format or as a design document.

Entry Requirements

2:1 in relevant discipline

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Recipient: Brunel University London

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