Fall 2022 - IAT 312 D100

Foundations of Game Design (3)

Class Number: 6628

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    SRYC 3310, Surrey

  • Prerequisites:

    Completion of 48 units, including IAT 265 with a minimum grade of C-.



Examines the discipline of game design. Games are studied across three analytical frameworks: games as rules (formal system), games as play (experiential system), games as culture (social system). Includes analytical and practical exercises in game design.


This course examines the discipline of game design. Games are studied across three analytical frameworks: games as rules (formal system), games as play (experiential system), games as culture (social system). Includes analytical and practical exercises in game design.

Game Design is a creative endeavour requiring practical experience through design, critique and iteration. In the lecture part of this class, we will read and discuss some of the work that analyzes players, games and the design process to establish common ground for practical work in the course labs. We will also cover some of the more universal game mechanisms, such as randomness, economic systems, player motivation and psychology, and a few specific topics in more detail. In the labs, we will play, critique, improve and design games as well as report on the course's longer game design projects.


Course Learning Objectives

The course should help you gain practical experience with and a critical understanding of:

  • The existing attempts to analyze the psychology of players and how it affects game design and consumption
  • The process of game design and its components such as prototyping and play testing
  • Some of the dimensions along which to think about game design and critique existing designs, such as art style, narrative and game balance
  • A subset of the mechanisms available to accomplish game design goals, such as reward systems and economic systems 


  • Assignments (individual) 30%
  • Projects (team work) 35%
  • Lecture/Lab Participation 20%
  • Quizzes 15%


Delivery Method

Lecture (LEC) and Studio Labs (STL)

Academic Honesty

Students are expected to follow SFU's code of academic honestyLinks to an external site.. We are required to forward all suspected cases of academic misconduct to the Director of SIAT, the Chair of Undergraduate Studies and the Dean of Students, where they will be pursued to resolution. This is a very unpleasant process for all involved, so please do not put us in this situation.


Class attendance and participation policy: Students are expected to attend and participate in all lectures and labs. Regular attendance and active, supportive participation in class and team activities are necessary to pass; doing otherwise will result in point reductions and in extreme cases failure to pass the course. 
If you miss an assignment or workshop due to illness or personal concerns, a doctor’s note or other forms of credible evidence must be presented to your instructor/TA. 
Failure to contribute sufficiently to in-class activities, individual and team assignments, failure to responsibly do your part of the teamwork, or failure to reliably attend and contribute in team meetings can result in additional point reductions beyond the team evaluation.

Deliverables: All deliverables must be submitted (typically to Canvas) by the due date/time. No late submissions will be accepted.



Tabletop Simulator
To facilitate rapid prototyping and reduce physical prototyping costs, we will  (at least for some of the course games) use an online board game simulator, the "Tabletop Simulator" https://www.tabletopsimulator.com/about. Course assignments will be taught and demonstrated with this software, and other software (incl. Unity) will not be supported by the course. You can also use this software for rapid prototyping and designing your games in your teams, and it also works really well for online and distributed playtesting (and of course gaming just for fun), and sharing your final games online. Thus we strongly recommend that you purchase, download, and install your own copy of it before class starts, see link above or directly from Steam https://store.steampowered.com/app/286160/Tabletop_Simulator/. it runs on both Windows and MacOS and currently costs CDN$ 21.99. The software has a lot of excellent online resources and tutorials available at https://www.tabletopsimulator.com/about.


Attendance and participation: Active participation will be required in lectures, and participation marks will stem from participation during lecture discussion as well as activities during the labs, especially ones that are not otherwise graded.


Adams, E. (2013). Fundamentals of Game Design (3rd ed.). Berkeley, CA: New Riders. ISBN: 9780321929679

This is our main textbook, so make sure you have access and get your own copy by the first week of the semester, as we'll read through some of the important chapters of the book. You should be able to access it through the SFU library as follows.

Salen, K., & Zimmerman, E. (2004). Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. ISBN: 9780262240451

Additional online readings will be provided via Canvas

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html