Lesson 2: Core Design Elements

At the end of this lesson students will be able to:
Gamestar Episodes related to this lesson:          
Recognize games as dynamic systems.
 First Quest - Episodes 3 and 4

What's on for today:

To understand games as systems, students must be familiar with the elements of a system. Students will discuss the Core Design Elements sheet, identifying examples for each element from Gamestar Mechanic.

Students will explore a game system by editing the Change the Element template game.

Materials Attached:

• Core Design Elements reference sheet (Make a copy for each student)


Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Warm Up (10 minutes)

1. In the Gamestar quest, direct the students to the introduction of Episode 3. The intro- duction of each lesson is the comics that precede the lesson.

2. Have the students read the comics, then ask them for the five elements of game design that were mentioned (mechanics, space, goals, rules, and components).

3. Hand out the Core Design Elements worksheet. Tell students to keep this worksheet with them for reference.

Play (30 minutes)

1. Have students play through Episodes 3 and 4 of Gamestar Mechanic.

2. After 30 minutes, have students finish up. If they did not finish all of Episodes 3 and 4, they can finish after class or for homework.

Edit (30 minutes)

1. Send students to their Workshop in Gamestar Mechanic. At the bottom of the Workshop screen you will find Template Games. Have students click “Get a Copy” under the “Change the Element” template game. This will open up the “Change the Element” template game in the students’ game editor.

2. Have students play the Change the Element game. Then begin a discussion on finding examples within the Change the Element game for each of the five elements.

Ask the students questions like:

“What did you do in the game?” (mechanics: jumping, collecting)

“How do you win the game?” (goal)

“What are the rules of the game?”

“Describe the game space.” (open, narrow pathways, maze-like)

“What do you use to play the game?” (components: enemies, points, blocks)

3. Write a list of their answers on the board, dividing them into categories based on the five elements of game design.

4. After students played the Change the Element game, have them choose one element of game design and alter it in this template game. Students can do this individually or in pairs. If they work in pairs, two students can share one computer.

For example, a student may alter the goal of the game by adding or taking away points. They may alter the components of the game by changing the avatar or the enemies. They may alter the space of the game by changing a top-down game into a platformer.

Circle Up (5 minutes)

1. How was the experience of changing an element in a game? How was the game different than before the element was changed?

2. Make sure to focus on the question, “If one element changes, do the others change too? How?”

Ask students for examples from their experiences. Draw them to the concept that games are dynamic systems and that all elements work together to form the system.

How did it go?

Did the students understand the concept of a dynamic system, or a system that changes based on the relationship of components?

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Apr 13, 2011, 2:57 PM