That ball game: a game for teaching game design

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


For the past six years I have been teaching a game design class to a diverse group of programmers, artists, media theorists and designers. I have found that traditional aca- demic model of teaching, as the handing down of established knowledge from expert to novice, fail badly in such a young and dynamic discipline. Instead I have embraced a more interactive model of learning, accepting students as fellow knowledge-creators and working together to find the ideas to help us better understand our design practice. In this paper I present a ball game I use as an opener in the very first class. I describe the rules of the game in full and discuss how I employ as a teaching tool. I have used it every year and it has grown in importance as a way to break down the barriers between lecturer and student and between students of different backgrounds. It also serves as an thought-provoking example to help students think more carefully about some of the most obvious and yet trouble-some ideas in the field: ‘fun’, 'rules’, ‘play’ and ‘game’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFDG 2013
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 8th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games
EditorsGeorgios N. Yannakakis, Espen Aarseth, Kristine Jørgensen, James C. Lester
Place of PublicationSanta Cruz, CA
PublisherSociety for the Advancement of the Science of Digital Games
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9780991398201
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (8th : 2013) - Chania, Greece
Duration: 14 May 201317 May 2013


ConferenceInternational Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (8th : 2013)
CityChania, Greece


  • Game design education
  • Mechanics
  • Dynamics
  • Aesthetics
  • Design Patterns


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