04-800-Q   Games and Entrepreneurship

Location: Africa

Units: 12

Semester Offered: Spring

Course description

The business and production of electronic games – whether on a computer, video console, or handheld device – has become an important industry. In this module, you will get an overall “big picture” overview of the area of electronic games, ranging from technologies, design/psychology, and artistic fundamentals, to business models and structures, markets and distribution, financial planning, and the organization of development work and workflows. As part of the module, you will play and analyze a range of games, and develop a product/business plan for a new game in group work.

Game development is a highly creative, interdisciplinary, and team-oriented task. Social aspects of teamwork and creative techniques like brainstorming will thus also receive special attention in this module. 

Content details

Note that gaming is an area that is changing very quickly. The content details below are thus just a rough guideline:

  • General introduction & history of electronic gaming: Module structure and a preview of topics; expected learning outcomes and assessment; information on tasks and project work; critical thinking considerations for independent research and analysis; history of electronic gaming
  • Game design & psychology: The brain’s reward system; emotions; association-based manipulation; biases; belief implanting; game play design basics; story-telling and narrative; edutainment and serious gaming; ethics; user testing; IP, brands, licenses, and sequels
  • Platforms and genres: PCs, consoles, handhelds, mobile phones, iPods/PDAs/tablets/TVs/other devices, VR/AR, and cloud gaming; casual games, shooters, sports games, RPGs, strategy games, MMOs, etc.
  • Markets, customer demographics, and business models: Geographical market differences; cultural, age, and gender differences; genre and platform preferences; niches; play styles; business models; distribution; marketing & customer acquisition
  • Company organization and funding schemes: Differences for small, medium, and large companies; unit and personnel structure; business strategies; publisher model; self-funding, angels, and VCs; publishing, politics, and gatekeepers; breaking into the industry
  • Project management and process pipelines: Life cycle; phases of game development; prototyping; general workflows and project planning; necessary resource components; financial planning; teamwork and personnel handling
  • Visual and audio design: Art direction; concept, 2D, 3D, and animation production; motion capturing; technical constraints; sound and music production; voice acting; development tools
  • Technology/Hardware platforms: Technical details, platform capabilities, and implications on development; (platforms mentioned above); specialized components like graphics cards
  • Technology/Graphics: Visualization basics; sprites; texture and polygon handling; shaders and rendering; shadows and lighting; particle systems; effects; DirectX, OpenGL; morphing, kinematics, and animation
  • Technology/Artificial intelligence: Goals of game AI; basics of character perception and acting; steering, pathfinding, scripting, finite state machines, behavior trees, and planning; camera AI; procedural generation
  • Technology/Other: Sound, physics, and user interfaces; networking, servers, and cloud; analytics
  • Technology/Game infrastructure: Interplay of technology components; third-party engines and middleware; development environments and tools; assets and code revision handling
  • Challenges and future directions: Additional seminars/tutorials, which will include instruction/Q&As/mentoring related to the students’ game analysis tasks, and the game product/business plan report and its presentation

Learning objectives

Students will:

  • Understand the “big picture” of game development, and how all the items below fit together
  • Be familiar with game genres and structures
  • Understand markets, demographic differences, and consumer psychology/behavior
  • Gain insights into the underlying technologies and have an overview of possible development tools
  • Understand the economic environment of game production, potential business models, and underlying business and organizational processes
  • Be able to apply the above knowledge for analyzing games, game technologies, product proposals, and business cases, identify shortcomings, and propose solutions
  • Be able to apply the above knowledge for generating an overall game product proposal, including a full company startup
  • Improve their teamwork, communication, and presentation skills through hands-on project work
  • Train independent research and analysis, and creativity techniques like brainstorming


Alexander Nareyek