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Question for my MSc thesis

8 replies [Last post]
Joined: 03/08/2009

Hi all,

I hope this is the right place to post my questions.

As I'm new here, I'l start by introducing myself:
My name is Matthijs, from Utrecht, the Netherlands.
I have some background in computergame design, but I have no "traditional" game design experience to speak of.

This year, I hope to graduate for my Master of Science in IT architecture.
My thesis is related to the creation of a game for training IT Architects.
The requirements for this "IT architecture game" are likely to point towards a non-computer game.
(Ok, now guess why I'm here... :-)

Creating such a game will require me to model the real architectural process into a system usable for a game.
Hopefully someone may be able to help me find literature on the following subjects:
1- Theory on (non-computer) game design
2- Theory on training/education using games
3- Possibly some theory on modeling real-world processes into game mechanics
4- Ideas or proven methods to check the model (game mechanics) for (a) usability and/or (b) validity

Literature such as books or articles from specialist (or even scientific) journals would be much appreciated.

truekid games
truekid games's picture
Joined: 10/29/2008
1. non-board game design as a

1. non-board game design as a whole is probably the easiest to point you at, there are a couple of good books like "Rules of Play", and also plenty of articles available online, like at and gamasutra. also has a good cross section of game design articles, including a link to "Exploratory Learning Through Educational Simulation and Games" which sounds relevant to your interests.

2. education theory using games is harder, because education methods themselves can vary dramatically from state to state or country to country. and often the most comprehensive material is aimed at a younger audience than what you're after. I think I'd be more tempted to point you at usability style articles, or maybe "theory of fun for game design" by Koster, which talks about piquing people's interest by providing a challenge which pushes the edges of what they can accomplish. Which is probably not the answer you wanted to hear. I believe tom vasel has a games-as-education video series related to his videos.

3. that would tend to be scattered more throughout your generic articles. i -think- you would be hard pressed to find a lot of articles with that as the primary focus, but you'll see lots of things touch on the subject, since most game design uses the real world to "theme" its elements and mechanics.

4. usability and validity would generally be termed playtesting, just poke around for articles with that keyword.

The Magician
Joined: 12/23/2008
Study these turms of game

Study these turms of game design: "flow" and "challenge". These are the most important elements in educational games I am aware of. If you want to teach players a skill, you must provide challenges and onse that match they're skill level at all times. Also reward them for accomplishments and design oportunities for the player to show off their skill in the game.

There is a thread of recomended books in the design

The Magician
Joined: 12/23/2008
Game Design Workshop

I wanted to sugest that the attitude of "non-computer" game books is somewhat misguided in my opinion. I can understand wanting just board game design books because that is my primary focus of recources. However, I highly recomend "Game Design Workshop". It is more focused on video games than board games, but even more than that it is vocused on "game" design. I would be looking for game design. Doesn't matter digital or table top, Learn about what makes a game. This book BTW covers it all pretty much and you will benifit greatly for your thesis. Beleave me it will answer all your question here that you have posted. Especialy making real world scenarios into game mechanics.

Joined: 03/08/2009

Thanks everyone, for your input!

The reason why I was asking for books that deal with non-computergames is mainly because topics regarding game design in general are fairly well covered. The biggest challenge for me lies in managing complexity.

A computer can hide complexity for the player. In non-computergames, the player (or referee) will have to deal with complexity. I am looking for theory regarding the restrictions for complexity:
- What criteria can be used to measure complexity?
- How does complexity relate to the pace of the game?
- What level of complexity is acceptable if a "trained" referee is available?
- What level of complexity is acceptable if players have to learn the game from a booklet?

The only thing I had to go on was "The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two" by George A. Miller (which is very generic) Looking at the titles proposed here, I think it should bring me further.

Again, thanks everyone! :)

The Magician
Joined: 12/23/2008
Please come back. I would

Please come back. I would like to see what your working on. Do you have to have a complete game for your thesis? I would be stressed out of my mind if I had to colaps the whole game design experience into a short turm.

Joined: 03/08/2009
will stick around :)

Yes, I will certainly stick around. (provided that my proposal will be accepted :)

The proposal for my thesis involves only part of the game creation process:
The "larger" objective is the creation of a serious game that let player experience the roles and responsibilities in IT architecture. I intend to create a model of the (IT) architectural process.

My goal is to:
1- Gather requirements
2- Define the most important elements and dependencies within the concept "IT Architecture".
3- Create a model that describes these elements and dependencies in such a way that it can later be used in the creation of a game.
4- Validate the model (I expect this to be the tricky part)

I would like to incorporate the constraints (e.g. regarding complexity) and possibilities of game design in my model. Although validation may require a "gamish" prototype, it is not my intention to work out things such as game balance, scenario creation, artwork, playtesting etc.

The project planning phase will start april 6th 2009. Deadline for handing in the final report is november 1st 2009.

Joined: 03/08/2009
Thesis finished

Hi all,

I recently finshed my thesis. The project is a success, and my game will be included in the DNV-CIBIT's Enterprise IT Architecture training portfolio.

In the following short video, I'm presenting my game (Dutch):

Joined: 09/20/2009

Now to learn Dutch! :)

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