Remember that Games Studies course that Dr. Jon Denning and I developed for Taylor University for the Spring 2016 Semester? Whether you remember that course or not, I am excited to announce I will once again be teaching SYS 270 Game Studies this Spring 2018 semester.

This time I have a new co-teacher, Dr. Jonathan Geisler. He has a passion for tabletop games and is excited to be teaching this new edition of the course. Dr. Geisler, Dr. Denning (my former co-teacher), and I have been reviewing the previous course over the past year. We talked with our former students, we reviewed our notes from the course, and watched where the game industry has been going. We determined our first edition of Game Studies covered too much ground in a single semester, so we are splitting the course in half. This new Game Studies will focus only on tabletop games, up to the point of hybrid games. A new course is in develop focused on digital game studies.


Games are as popular as ever on computers, consoles, mobile and tabletop. Various Conventions, Kickstarters, Blogs, and Media Outlets are devoted to games. Game publishers are seeking new and innovative games for the market. The course serves to introduce the various aspects of game studies. This systems course will cover a brief history and philosophy of games, basic game theory, game mechanics, probability, game conceptualization, game design process, iterative design, game industry, and gamification. Further, the student will experience the practical elements of game development including game conceptualization, prototyping, playtesting, and production through a final group project of creating a game. The theories and processes discussed in this course apply to digital and tabletop game design, but this course focuses on tabletop games


  • To understand the underlying history and philosophies of games.
  • To understand basic game theory and the mathematics behind it.
  • To understand the mechanics and characteristics of games.
  • To utilize critical analysis for incorporating concepts from other games.
  • To understand the process involved in designing and producing games.
  • To utilize the iterative system design process.
  • To understand the impact of gamification on society and commerce.
  • To understand the interaction of faith and gaming.
  • To learn from game industry professionals.
  • To produce a game prototype.

For this Game Studies, much of the core of the class will remain the same as before, so you can read about that in this blog series.

The largest change to this edition of the course has been a reworking of the schedule to provide greater emphasis on the iterative design process. Students will be going through a minimum of ten iterations of their tabletop game prototypes during the semester. We realize that is not enough for a published game, but that gives our students a real world experience going through the process in a condensed manner. We have redesigned the class to meet twice a week with the first day being lectures/discussion and the second day being an iterative design/playtesting lab.

The second major change involves more instruction regarding the critical analysis of games. We will spend more time at the beginning of the course working with the students on critical analysis. We really felt we didn’t explain that process as well in the first edition of the course, so we plan to work collaboratively on the early analysis so all the students understand the process and what we expect from a critical analysis of a game. Also, since we are now focusing on tabletop games, we need to replace the digital games with tabletop games. We have, as well, reviewed the effectiveness of games we analyzed during the first course and have decided to replace some of those games. We are currently researching possible games to include and speaking with publishers. Once we finalize the games we will be critically analyzing in the course, I will post that list.

Once again, I am excited and blessed that I get to teach this course for the university. It is such an honor and so much fun to focus my passion for gaming and my experiences as a freelancer on teaching possible future game designers, game editors, and game publishers.

Game Studies Course: Second Edition

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