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Special Topics: Transformational Game Design Studio

Course Information

Course Number

HCI Undergraduate: 05-499 F
HCI Graduate: 05-899 F

Course Description

Are you interested in making games that change how players think, feel, and behave? This class will give you the chance to get hands-on with transformational games for real-world clients who have real-world problems. If you want to spend your semester making awesome games and understanding how players experience them, then this is the class for you.The games you’ll make are primarily non-digital. While you can use simple technology, like having players snap photographs on their phones, programming is out of bounds. If you are looking for a technical class, you should look elsewhere. We’ll be spending as much class time as possible working with the games you make. To get the most out of this class, you should be ready to do substantial independent reading and playing. By the end of this class, you will know how to apply transformational learning theories to game design; how to decompose a real-world problem from a game design perspective; how to instantiate your ideas in a well-crafted game that aligns its mechanics and goals; how to playtest and iterate a transformational game; how to work effectively in an interdisciplinary team; and how to share back your work to stakeholders. You’ll also have three great pieces for your game design portfolio.       

Semester Offered and Units

Semester: Fall 2024
Undergraduate: 12 units
Graduate: 12 units

Enrollment Requirements

No prior knowledge of game design is required for this class. It will help if you have at some point in your life played at least one game.


As game designers, you must be prepared to work with an iterative design process, to take the time to play-test, and to re-work ideas that just aren’t fun. If you hope to make transformational games, you must also take the time to learn about your players and to understand how they experience your game on their own terms. Hopefully you think all these things are also fun!


Elaine Fath