Fall 2024 - IAT 210 OL01

Introduction to Game Studies: Theory and Design (3)

Class Number: 6500

Delivery Method: Online


  • Course Times + Location:


  • Prerequisites:

    Completion of 21 units.



Reviews the history of games, tracing the evolution of game design from board and card games through the latest electronic products. Examines the medium of games through various lenses: games as rules (game design), games as play (game experience), and games as culture (culture within games, and role of games and game cultures). Breadth-Humanities/Social Sciences.


An introduction to the medium of games. Reviews the history of games, tracing the evolution of game design from board and card games through the latest digital games. Examines the medium of games through various lenses: games as rules (game design), games as play (game experience), and games as culture (the cultures within games, and the role of games and game cultures within our broader culture). Students are introduced to the concepts of game narrative, the influence of technology in digital games, the emergence of game paradigms such as social media, mobile games, serious games and game ‘modding’, as well as models and trends within the games industry.

[Note: Course Outline details below are subject to minor revision.]


Course Topics:

  • History of games
  • Games as a medium
    • “Magic Circle”
    • Game rules
    • Role of choice and challenge
  • Games as play
  • Games as culture
    • Cultures within games
    • Games within our broader culture
    • Games and social issues: gender, violence, addiction
  • Games and narrative
  • Games and technology (computation, role of AI, innovative interface models)
  • Emergent game paradigms
    • Social and networked games
    • Mobile games
    • Locative games
    • “Art” games
    • Game “modding” & open source gaming
    • “Serious games,” educational games, “gamification”
  • Games industry – business models and trends

Learning Activities
The class will include lectures, videos, podcasts, course readings, Canvas materials & discussion board, writing assignments and a board game prototype project.

Learning Outcomes:
Upon completion of this course students will be able to:
  • Write and think critically about the history and evolution of games, including the situation of specific games within recognized game genres.
  • Analyze the design of traditional and digital games, identifying the role of critical design variables such as challenge, choice, asset allocation, role of narrative, etc.
  • Analyze and critique game experience, relating it to the fundamentals of game design.
  • Identify and discuss critical cultural and social issues in games and game cultures.
  • Identify the roles of technology in supporting and extending the design and experience of electronic games.
  • Identify and discuss a variety of emergent game paradigms.
  • Identify trends and issues in the games industry and the economy of games.
  • Apply game design concepts to a game prototype in a team project


  • Research Essay 20%
  • Board Game Prototype 40%
  • Quizzes 35%
  • Exercises 5%


This is a breadth elective non-technical course designed for students of any academic background at SFU. It is also an online asynchronous course. Note that because of the board game prototype project, which is team-based, you will have to synchronize your schedules somewhat with your teammates (for either in person or virtual meetings, or both) to complete this assignment.



Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the term are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.