Videogames in Critical Contexts HNRS 353-002 (Spring 2012)

Final Game Design Project

The final project for the class will be a game that you design yourself. The point of the game is very specific, for it should be a meta-game, that is, a game that itself comments upon other games or some aspect of other games. It need not respond to a specific game; your meta-game can comment upon a genre of games, a general game mechanic, the platforms used to play games, the game industry, or even on the players that play games. In short, you are going to develop a small game that somehow demonstrates hyperawareness of the world of games.

You are able to work in groups of up to three people, though it's fine to work individually as well. The final project is due Saturday, May 5, though “beta” versions of the games will be presented in the last week of class.

The Pitch

The first step is your "pitch." For the purposes of HNRS 353, your pitch is simply one paragraph in which you briefly describe the game and what you hope to achieve with it.

The Tools

  • Game Maker 8 (8 bit fun, think the original Legend of Zelda)
  • Scratch (build a game like assembling the pieces of a puzzle)
  • Playfic (write interactive fiction online)
  • Stencyl (more complicated than Scratch, for Flash games)
  • Twine (branching interactive stories)
  • Kodu (designed for elementary school kids, but good for us too)
  • Unity (3D game engine, not for beginners)
  • GameSalad (Mac only, basic version is free)
  • Construct2 (create HTML5 games with no programming experience)

Artist's Statement

In addition to the game itself, everyone must also write an artist’s statement that explains and reflects upon the game. Even if you design a game as part of a group, every individual in that group must submit a separately written artist's statement.

Your artist’s statement is a 3-4 page essay that outlines the goals of your project. You should consider the following questions (not necessarily all of them or in this order): What were you trying to achieve? What effect or meanings were you after? What subtextual meanings were you trying to evoke? Why did the project take the form it did? Explain your design decisions: why you did what you did and how those choices meshed with the themes or goals of your work?

I’ll be looking for evidence that you’ve absorbed and thought about many of the issues we discussed throughout the semester regarding play, games, point of view, platforms, procedural rhetoric, countergames, and so on.

Finally, conclude your artist’s statement by evaluating how your project lived up to your initial goals. What difficulties and epiphanies occurred along the way as you created your project, and what would you do differently next time?