Video Games for Research: Developing Interactive Experiences for Analytic Inquiries
Scientific experiments frequently require participants to carry out tasks under controlled circumstances in ways that resemble game-like scenarios. Some research projects even specifically involve interactive experiences such as video games in order to collect data or to educate people. Designing and conducting game-based research projects requires understanding not just of one's own field of study, but also of the conventions and practical considerations that are part of video game development.
In this course, students learn how to design a game-based research project that involves either the modification of an existing video game, or the purposeful development of a new interactive experience. In the process they learn about existing 'serious game' projects, recent developments in game research more generally, and technological affordances that can be used in video games and interactive experiences (such as AR/VR or networked interactivity). Course lectures provide the theoretical foundation for game-based research practices, as well as game design and development principles. Workshops provide space for related discussion and applied, collaborative development work. At the end of the course, students will have gained the experience of conducting research work with the help of video games, and will be able to apply it in their area of study.
Modern Game AI Algorithms
In the last years, Game AI has left the nerd interest area and is now known as incubator for many of the most important AI algorithms of our time. Almost the same methods are employed for beating the world champion in Go as well as solving very complex Chemistry problems for the first time in an automated fashion. We have recently witnessed programs beating human professionals in StarCraft and MOBA games and it is one part of the course to learn what kind of algorithms were used to do it.
Game playing is one pillar of modern Game AI, the others are procedurally generating content (PCG) and modelling players, and of course all these 3 can be combined in various ways. Of course, these methods have ties also to other fields (e.g., behavior trees originated in robotics) and are not constrained to game uses. This renders the course a good introduction also to general AI.
Introduction to Video Game Making
Once upon a time, developing computer games required in-depth knowledge of computer hardware — how it works, and how to program for it. While this is still the case for commercial game development, there are now more resources than ever that support newcomers in creating a game project.
In this course students learn the basic principles of game development and how to deconstruct a game idea into the many challenges that need to be solved to create it. Apart of creating games, this course gives students a better understanding of the ways in which the technological aspects of the medium shape their rhetorical, visual, and narrative dimensions. This will help students to become well-informed game critics, and gives them the ability to express ideas through the medium of video games.
Hands-On: Reflective Game Development in Action
Games are cultural artefacts that are both shaped by society as well as an expression of its values and norms. Games entertain us, connect us, and educate us when we play them. But just as literature does not simply come into existence, games are developed by authors who design the experience a player will go through.
In this course students dedicate a whole semester to the creative and reflective endeavour of developing game prototypes; draft-like manifestations of games, created to find out how players will interact with a game. Under the guidance of the course lecturer(s) students work in groups to create both a non-digital and a digital (or digitally mediated) game prototype. Finally, because being "hands-on" is more than simply creating a game, students produce a theoretically sound reflection on the aims and accomplishments of their work.