Adapted from: Teaching Computer Science through Game Design by Mark Overmars, IEEE Computer, April 2004 (Vol 37, No 4).
Playing computer games is a very popular recreational activity among university students. Indeed, many of them would love to create their own computer game if they could. So why not use game design as a vehicle to teach them computer science?
Developing computer games involves many aspects of computing, including computer graphics, artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, security, distributed programming, simulation, and software engineering. Thus, computer games provide a way to learn about many fundamental principles of computer science.
Moreover, game development also brings into play aspects of the liberal arts, the social sciences, and psychology. Thus, students would be able to see a fascinating synergy between art and science that results in spectacular entertainment.
Creating a state-of-the-art commercial computer game is an incredibly difficult task that typically requires a multimillion-dollar budget and a development team that includes 40 or more people.
Consequently, in this course, students will be asked to implement simpler games of their own choosing, such as Pac-Man, Space Invaders, or simple platform games.
Moreover, they will be asked to use "Game Maker", rather than a traditional programming language. With Game maker's drag-and-drop techniques, students can create games without writing a single line of code -- which is important given that this is a general education course designed to appeal to students of all majors.
To introduce non-computing majors to fundamental computer science principles by way of computer games and to also show them the synergy between art and science in game development.
The academic objects are three-fold: (1) to demonstrate fundamental computer science principles through computer games; (2) to demonstrate how art and science can mix to produce compelling computer games; and (3) to actually have the students build a computer game using "Game Maker".
This is a general education course. It serves all non-computing students.
The following course may appear similar:
SOMA9740 Narrative and Gameplay
This course provides a detailed examination of screen based media in both popular cinema and interactive games. Principles of narrative structure are introduced, with a detailed examination of the roles of archetype, genre and myth in the development of narrative experience. Students undertake creative exercises in the development of scenarios based on these principles. These concepts lead into a detailed examination of the games media its history and current developments in both technology and gameplay as they relate to use experience. Different games are explored from a theoretical point of view, while students develop original scenarios for their own games.
However, the proposed course will cover not just the "art" part, but also the "computer science" part. Moreover, students will create a game of their choosing using "Game Maker".
As mentioned above, there is some overlap with SOMA9740 Narrative and Gameplay
See comments above.
I would expect an enrollment of at least 100 students / session due to the popularity of computer games and the fact that students would create computer games of their choosing using "Game Maker".
This is a general education course, so there are no prerequisites.
The assignment involves creating a computer game using a "Game Maker":
http://www.cs.uu.nl/docs/vakken/gds/ (university course that uses game maker)
(Handbook entry adapted from http://www.eecs.umich.edu/~soar/Classes/494/ and Teaching Computer Science through Game Design paper)
In this course we will study the art and science of computer game design. Game design brings into play the liberal arts, the social sciences, and psychology. Moreover, game design also brings into play scientific concepts from computing such as computer graphics, artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, security, distributed programming, simulation, and software engineering. In this course, you will build a computer game of your choosing using the "Game Maker" software. Game Maker can be used to build games without writing a single line of code.
Book: Andrew Rollings, Ernest Adams, On Game Design, New Riders Publishing, 2003, ISBN 1-5927-3001-9.
Similar to: http://www.cs.uu.nl/docs/vakken/gds/overview.htm.
(We will likely also spend some time on "high concept" games such as "Black and White" and "The Sims", perhaps emphasizing the "art" part more than the course syllabus below copied from http://www.cs.uu.nl/docs/vakken/gds/overview.htm. Moreover, we will discuss research issues such as how to advance plot points in the presence of freedom.)
The assignment will be done using "Game Maker", which runs only on Windows and requires DirectX 5+.
Of course, if the vast majority of students have Windows at home (or access to Windows from their school), then perhaps CSE need not provide a lab for them to use. However, if this is not the case, then not providing a lab may end up reducing enrollment.
See above comment about "Game Maker".
Incidentally, there are free and commercial versions of Game Maker. The free one is missing some features such as networking but can still be used to make interesting games.
There is a site license available for Game Maker, but it is a bit problematic since it does not allow students to use the commercial version at home.
UNSW's CRICOS Provider No. is 00098G