Game Systems and Design

I.     Course Prefix/Number: ART 275

       Course Name: Game Systems and Design

       Credits: 3 (0 lecture; 6 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

ART 260 or consent of instructor

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course covers practical aspects of game design. Content includes interface design, game documentation, working with game tests, experimental and conceptual topics of play mechanics, experience design, design of gaming spaces, and game balancing.

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. To explain how games are constructed
  2. To design and produce games
  3. To identify the limitations of games and their construction
  4. To conceive and develop a vision of a game to the highest level of fidelity and quality

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Game theory
  2. Play Mechanics
    1. Structure of play
    2. Obstacles, penalties and rewards
    3. Levels of play
    4. Play and sociological factors
  3. Board game and role-play design
  4. Game concepts
    1. New ideas
    2. Evaluation of concepts
  5. Abstract Design elements
    1. Positive and negative feedback systems
    2. Game balancing tools
    3. Player rewards and punishments
    4. Interaction of systems
    5. Simulation and Emulation
  6. Psychological design considerations
    1. Operant conditioning
    2. Addiction to gaming
    3. Rewards and penalties
  7. Interface Design
    1. Balancing player control schemes
    2. Specific hardware constraints
  8. Practical Game design
    1. Spatial design
    2. Task design
    3. Design integration
    4. Control schemes
    5. Training
    6. Game tuning
    7. Play testing and analysis
    8. Design implication of platform choice

VII.  Methods of Instruction

This course will be presented using a combination of lectures, demonstrations, presentations and hands-on studio work in the lab.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

  1. Attend and participate in classes and labs.
  2. Attend critiques and quizzes as scheduled in the course calendar.
  3. Complete assigned exercises and print assigned work.
  4. Final Exam.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

  1. Required text: Awesome Game Creation by Ahearn and Crooks, Charles River Media, ISBN: 1-58450-223-1
  2. Flash drive or portable hard drive
  3. 11 x 14 mount board and white museum grade board for matting
  4. 12 sheets of ink jet glossy paper
  5. Blank CD-Rs

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

The final grade will be based upon the following elements and their weights

A. Quizzes: 25%
B. Critiques: 25%
C. Final Exam: 25%
D. Final Critique: 25%

Multiple choice quizzes will be administered at the first three critiques. Critiques offer the student the opportunity to show work in progress to the instructor and to the class and to obtain feedback on the work presented. There will be four critiques including the final.

XI.   Other Course Information

Please note:
Some of the activities, lectures and assignments in this class may include imagery that is controversial, uncomfortable, shocking, has nudity, and personally unpopular to one's beliefs. If a student objects to this practice, he/she is encouraged to discuss with the instructor early in the semester alternative ways of completing course requirements.

Open lab times will be announced at the beginning of each semester.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.