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The University of Southampton

COMP3218 Game Design and Development

Module Overview

Games design and development is an increasingly important and sophisticated topic, that draws together many of the core aspects of Computer Science and Software Engineering. This course introduces students to the fundamentals of game design, gives them practical experience in developing games within an industry-leading contemporary games framework, and encourages students to consider the wider possibilities of digital entertainment through non-linear narratives and innovative gaming forms.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Level design
  • Game difficulty and adaptivity
  • Mechanics, dynamics and systems
  • Game narratives
  • Innovative game technologies
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Create a game design using the fundamentals of game design theory
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Use agile methodologies
  • Develop rapid prototypes
  • Work in small teams
  • Participate in an expo
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Implement a game design using modern game technologies (e.g. Unity 3D)


Game Design Fundamentals: Level Design - Construction of Choice and Obstacles - Tutorial Systems Game Challenge Theory and Design - Difficulty vs Punishment and Accessibility vs Contest - Flow (Both Immersive and Adaptive Difficulty) Systems, Dynamics, and Mechanisms - The Mechanics, Dynamics, Aesthetics (MDA) model - Core Game Dynamics - Objectives and Motivation - Game Elements and Atoms - Rule Design - Game Complexity and Difficulty Game Narrative - Basic principles of non-linear narratives - Interactive narrative and the narrative paradox - Common forms of game narrative and the Heros Journey - Narrative structures for games Research and Digital Entertainment - Innovative forms of interaction and control - Location aware narrative - Adaptive games - Procedural generation

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Type: Lecture Hours per semester: 22 Group Size: Description: 2 hours per week in Weeks 1-11 Type: Workshops in computer room Hours per semester: 22 Group Size: Description: Two-hour workshops in Weeks 2-12 to support Students with their coursework activity

Completion of assessment task67
Follow-up work6
Supervised time in studio/workshop18
Wider reading or practice41
Preparation for scheduled sessions6
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Brenda, Schreiber, Ian Brathwaite. Challenges for Game Designers. 

Earnest Adams. Fundamentals of Game Design. 

Raph Koster. Theory of Fun for Game Design. 

Tracy Fullerton. Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games. 

Game Programming Gems.

Staff requirements. Teaching staff with experience of game design, game development, narrative theory and game-related research areas (location-aware, adaptive, state of the art HCI).

Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman. Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. 

Online Resource.

Software requirements. 


Assessment Strategy

Assessment will be through the development and demonstration of small game prototypes.


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: COMP1206 or COMP3203 or COMP6238

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