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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Design

Undergraduate Course: Design, Play and Games (DESI10140)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryIn 'Man, Play and Games,' Roger Callois outlines a paradox: games are deeply important catalysts for personal and social growth, but also "an occasion of pure waste: time, energy, ingenuity, skill and often of money" (1958:5-6). What, then, are we to make of the largest entertainment medium on the planet - a field of design equally at home in The Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection, and the deep bunkers of the Pentagon's war planners? This course will explore 'play' as both our oldest form of culture, and our most bleeding-edge field of design. Exploring videogames in-depth, you are asked to critically analyse their meanings and affects, in order to understand how games both reflect and shape modern society.
Course description As Eric Zimmerman argues, we have entered the 'ludic century' (2009) - the age of games. Videogames are in the ascendant, dwarfing all other

entertainment industries, grossing more than the film and music markets combined. As an arena for design, games constitute a meta-medium, drawing together a dizzying array of disciplines: from graphic design to costume, from animation to interior design, and from philosophy to economics. However, at the same time as they offer new creative and educational possibilities, 'gamification' also heralds a new, intensified wave of late capitalism. What are we to make of a cultural art form which descends from military technologies, one internationally recognised simultaneously as a Sport, a Fine Art and an 'addiction'? This course explores the forms and functions of analogue and digital games, and asks you to question the distinctions between playfulness and seriousness; leisure and labour; immersion and escapism; art and weapon. We will contextualise and deconstruct games with a view to understanding what games 'mean', and what games 'do' - emotionally, intellectually, phenomenally and culturally. Through lectures, seminars and game-prototyping workshops you will gain a fuller understanding of game mechanics, aesthetics and dynamics, and develop a capacity to critique ludic representations and design practices. Focusing on games as its object of study, this course will also reflect on the design implications of 'play' more broadly, and ask how you might adopt a playful attitude to your discipline.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements If this course is Core to your programme, you will automatically be enrolled. For all other students, including Design students, the course is open on a first come, first served basis until the course is full. This course may have limited availability for non-Design students. Please contact the Course Organiser if you wish to enrol.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  43
Course Start Semester 1
Course Start Date 16/09/2024
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 2, Summative Assessment Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 173 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) There will be two summative assessments at the end of this course. This will take the form of a 2500-word essay and a working game prototype. Both of these tasks ask you to consider games in-depth as articulations of social, cultural, political, philosophical or emotional concepts. Prior to this, there is one point of formative assessment. All outcomes will be assessed according to the three learning outcomes.

Formative: Submit a joint statement of intent for the summative projects - establish a research question, proposal and indicative bibliography for the essay (700words); and a preliminary Game Design Document for your intended practical submission (500words).

Summative 1 - Essay (70%) (2500words):
Compare and contrast case studies in relation to a course theme, drawing on Game Studies scholarship.

Summative 2 - Game Design (30%)
Create a functional prototype that must articulate an emotion, concept or cultural issue through its mechanics. This can explore your essay theme, or an aspect of your studio practice, and it may be composed of any material/medium
Feedback Written feedback will be provided via the Learn 'feedback studio' system within 15days of submission. Note that formative grades do not count towards the final course mark and summative grades remain indicative until approved by the relevant exam board. Written feedback will provide guidance on areas of strength and improvement in relation to the Learning Outcomes. Verbal formative feedback will additionally be provided on a weekly basis in relation to ongoing seminar and workshop exercises.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. RESEARCH: Evidence a critical awareness of relevant ideas, theories, and practices at the forefront of game design.
  2. ANALYSIS: Analyse games as cultural artefacts, evaluating how they are situated within broader cultural contexts.
  3. COMMUNICATION: Manage, structure and communicate an independent research project in a scholarly and creative manner.
Reading List
Bogost, I. 2011. How to Do Things With Videogames. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Caillois, R. 2001. Man, Play and Games. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

Dyer-Witheford, N., & De Peuter, G. 2009. Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Flanagan, M. 2013. Critical Play: Radical Game Design. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press.

Malkowski, J., Russworm, T. (Eds.), 2017. Gaming Representation: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Games. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills You will develop skills in research, intellectual autonomy, and effective communication, with a view to lifelong learning, personal development and ethical engagement in line with the University's 'Mindset' and 'Skill Group' criteria.

To be able to deploy appropriate research strategies in independent projects through your final essay and game design.
To be able to identify and analyse problems, and create processes to solve them through both writing and iterative design.
To exercise initiative and autonomy in the development of written and practical projects.
To be able to make decisions on the basis of rigorous and independent thought, with critical and ethical awareness of the meanings, affects and contexts of games.
To be able to flexibly transfer knowledge and playful practices from one context to another, and to communicate ideas effectively.
KeywordsGames,play,critical,theory,cultural context,simulation,narrative,immersion,systems
Course organiserDr Merlin Seller
Course secretaryMr Aidan Cole
Tel: (0131 6)50 2306
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