Game Analysis and Design

Professor Hlas
hlascs (@)
Drop-in times

Getting a game design from 95% to 100% done takes as long as it does to get from 0% to 95% done.
—Brian Henk

Course Information

Section: 501, Mondays 4-6:45pm

Games have been a part of human culture for over 5000 years and have been used as a tool for recreation as well as for teaching and learning. As such, games are worthy of scholarly analysis. Unfortunately, little scholarly work has been done with this medium. This course is an attempt to view games through a scholarly lens by analyzing the experience of a game.

Questions that will guide our analysis include:

  1. What is fun?
  2. Is fun a necessary component of a game?
  3. What makes one game fun and another not?

This course helps students meet the following Liberal Education Learning Outcomes (as assessed by final project):

More course information is posted on Canvas.




  1. Schell, J. (2014). The art of game design: A book of lenses.
  2. Koster, R. (2013). A theory of fun for game design.
    Note: Try reading the cartoons first, then go back to read the text

Other resources

Recent games played:


Experience points (XP) are gained for clearly communicating ideas and reflecting on the iterative design process.

Weekly writing assignments (9 × 8 XP)

There will be readings and videos for each week's topic. Most of these weeks require a written assignment requiring you to integrate and applies the various ideas within the readings.

Roll-and-write design project (12 XP)

A practice design project that has specific constraints to prepare you for the game design project.

Print-and-play design project (66 XP)

In teams of 1-3, students will iteratively design a game idea of their own choosing. Students will be graded on communication of ideas, not game quality. Specifically, students will individually submit a reflection after each playtest. Further, students groups will submit a design diary with group and individual parts for the final project.

Fine print

Email is the best way to reach me. I typically respond within 24 hours, but do know that I do not check email in the evening or on Saturdays due to family commitments.

Attendance A record of attendance will be collected. This is required by the University to maintain accurate class rosters and to assess the impact of attendance on student achievement.

Absences If you are absent, please meet with me (drop-in hours, Zoom, and/or email) so I can make sure you are caught up. Missed assignments due to an authorized absence (school functions or emergencies or COVID-19 related absences) do not require explanation and may be made up for full credit. Missed assignments due to a non-authorized absences also do not require explanation and may be completed early for full credit, or late for 90% credit. Late work is expected to be completed within two weeks of the original due date or by the last day of classes, whichever occurs first. Also notice that poor attendance may impact group activities.

Entry-level switching The Department of Mathematics allows students within entry-level mathematics courses (i.e., 010, 020, 104, 109, 112, 114, or 246) to move up to a higher numbered course during the first two weeks of a semester or move down during the first three weeks. Please contact the instructor for more details.

*Grades Midterm grades will be based on percentage of points completed at the time of midterm submission. For final grades, total points will be rounded up to the nearest whole number to determine a letter grade. Individual scores or grades will not modified because they represent a student's progress in the class throughout the semester.

Student Accommodations Any student who has a disability and is in need of classroom accommodations should contact the instructor and the Services for Students with Disabilities Office in Centennial Hall 2106 at the beginning of the semester (

Academic Integrity Any academic misconduct in this course as a serious offense. The disciplinary procedures and penalties for academic misconduct are described on the UW-Eau Claire Dean of Students web site.

Civility As members of this class, we are members of a larger learning community where excellence is achieved through civility. Our actions affect everyone in our community. Courtesy is reciprocated and extends beyond our local setting, whether in future jobs, classes, or communities. Civility is not learned individually, it is practiced as a community.

Mandatory Reporter As a Wisconsin State employee, I am obligated to report any claims of sexual harassment or sexual assault. Please know that any such information revealed to me will be forwarded to the Dean of Students. The Dean of Students office may reach out to you to offer resources and support.