About this Course
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Approx. 18 hours to complete

Suggested: 4 hours/week...


Subtitles: English

Skills you will gain

Video Game DevelopmentGame Design DocumentVideo Game DesignGame Design

100% online

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.

Approx. 18 hours to complete

Suggested: 4 hours/week...


Subtitles: English

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

4 hours to complete

Getting Started with Game Design

Let's be honest, the process of game design is pretty ambiguous. It is about 90% awesome and 10% terror. As a game designer, you will create things that other people will actually (hopefully) play. Those players will have both positive and negative things to say about your game. It is important to get a sense of what the game design process looks like. In this first module of Principles of Game Design you will create a "High Concept" document for your game. You will develop your own game idea leveraging the "Design | Play | Experience" (DPE) model and work to understand your role as game designer.

9 videos (Total 64 min), 6 readings, 4 quizzes
9 videos
Meet Your Instructor4m
The Game Design Process7m
Imagining a Game5m
The Role of the Game Designer11m
Ideation: A Curious Mind9m
Ideation: Structured Brainstorming8m
Ideation: Another Activity...6m
Documentation - High Concept & Treatment7m
6 readings
Exploring the DPE and MDA Frameworks10m
A Game Idea is Just a Game Idea10m
Changing the Way You Look at the World10m
A Little Secret on Idea Generation10m
A High Concept Template10m
3 practice exercises
Trick Questions!6m
The Game Design Process10m
Quizzes are like lame little games...10m
4 hours to complete

Fleshing Out a Game Design

There's a significant difference between having an idea and beginning to turn that idea into something tangible. People often confuse the phrases "flushing out" and "fleshing out". Idea generation is about "flushing out" an idea. This module in the Principles of Game Design is focused on "fleshing out" your game idea or adding muscle, skin and character to the skeleton created in Module 1. You will explore game worlds of your own creation as well as the kinds of stories you would like to tell through games. By the end of this module you will have created a "Story Bible" for your game.

6 videos (Total 61 min), 4 readings, 4 quizzes
6 videos
Game World Components10m
Storytelling in Games4m
Settings and Plot in Games8m
Characters in Games11m
Design Documentation - The Design Document18m
4 readings
World Building10m
Telling Stories with Games10m
Example Documentation10m
Template Documents10m
3 practice exercises
World Building Quiz10m
Story and Character Quiz10m
Design Documentation Quiz10m
4 hours to complete

From Idea to Implementation

Games aren't just about ideas, stories and worlds. They are also interactive systems that players experience. What does it mean to develop gameplay or game systems? This module introduces you to the process of designing gameplay experiences and then how those components can be leveraged in the process of level design. You will explore what it means to "balance" a game or move from an idea to something playable by users.

8 videos (Total 61 min), 4 readings, 4 quizzes
8 videos
Mechanics & Dynamics7m
Level Design8m
Level Components9m
Tips for Level Designers11m
Game Balance - Part 13m
Game Balance - Part 29m
Mechanic Balance7m
4 readings
Mechanics, Dynamics & Aesthetics10m
Level Design vs. Gameplay Design10m
Balancing Your Game10m
Secrets of the Sages...10m
3 practice exercises
Gameplay Design Quiz8m
Level Design Quiz10m
Balance Quiz10m
5 hours to complete

Making Designs Better

Prototyping is one of the most critical skills a game designer can cultivate. The ability to "find the fun" in gameplay design is critical to being a successful designer. In this module you will create a prototype of a game idea. This can then be put in front of players allowing you to better understand if the underlying mechanics, systems and aesthetic are something that players may find engaging. This module also encourages you, as an aspiring game designer, to ask questions about the social impact and context of your game. As a designer, it is important to think about the impact that your creativity could possibly have on the world.

11 videos (Total 84 min), 4 readings, 5 quizzes
11 videos
Building a Prototype11m
User Experience - Introduction5m
UX - Input Systems10m
UIX - Output Systems8m
A Player Experience Activity4m
Testing - Who and When?6m
How to Playtest7m
Tips for Playtesting4m
Social Issues for Designers - Part 18m
Social Issues for Designers - Part 27m
4 readings
On Prototyping10m
User Experience & Design10m
Why Test?10m
Games and Society?!?10m
4 practice exercises
Prototyping Quiz10m
User Experience Quiz10m
A Quiz... On Testing... That Feels Weird10m
Social Issues in Games10m
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Top reviews from Principles of Game Design

By JRMar 27th 2016

Great course!\n\nThought I wouldn't use the stuff that I learned in the videos at first, but as I started working on my own projects, I realised it was very important knowledge for a game developer.

By MCApr 3rd 2017

This course helps your game go from concept to reality. It pushed me to get a digital prototype made and ready to demo. Great depth of information related to game design and the gaming industry.



Casey O'Donnell

Associate Professor
Media and Information

About Michigan State University

Michigan State University has been advancing the common good with uncommon will for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU pushes the boundaries of discovery and forges enduring partnerships to solve the most pressing global challenges while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges....

About the Game Design and Development Specialization

Break into the video game industry with theoretical, technical, and business knowledge from one of the world’s best programs. This Specialization covers the theoretical and practical foundations of video game production using the Unity 3D game engine. The Specialization is taught by faculty at Michigan State University with over fifty years of combined experience building games and teaching game production. Michigan State University is one of the top-rated game design and development programs in North America. You’ll learn to develop a game concept; prototype, test, and iterate on your ideas; and navigate licensing, marketing, and other business considerations. The specialization builds a solid foundation for industry roles as a gameplay designer, level designer, technical designer, technical artist, programmer, or producer. The capstone partner for the specialization is the online game portal Kongregate, which provides an avenue for distribution of the capstone project, as well as a pathway for monetization for aspiring game developers....
Game Design and Development

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Once you enroll for a Certificate, you’ll have access to all videos, quizzes, and programming assignments (if applicable). Peer review assignments can only be submitted and reviewed once your session has begun. If you choose to explore the course without purchasing, you may not be able to access certain assignments.

  • When you enroll in the course, you get access to all of the courses in the Specialization, and you earn a certificate when you complete the work. Your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you only want to read and view the course content, you can audit the course for free.

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