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TDT42 - Theoretical foundations of game design (Autumn 2017)


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Theoretical foundations of game design (Autumn 2017)

Louise Matjeka is the responsible teacher for the course. For more information contact (Louise.Matjeka at ntnu.no) .


The course introduces theories and theoretical concepts of play and games and how these are applied to digital game design. During the course definitions of play and games and theoretical concepts such as the magic circle, gamification and playification and how these are applied to digital game design will be discussed. We will be analyzing various games and play forms, analog and digital, to gain a better understanding of the role of play for digital gaming and vice versa.


  1. Johan Huizinga, “Nature and Significance of Play as a Cultural Phenomenon” in Homo Ludens – A Study of the Play-Element in Culture. 1949 Chapter 1 (pp. 1-28). (28 pages)
  2. Roger Caillois, “The Definition of Play” & “The Classification of Games” in Man, Play, and Games. 2001 (1961). Chapters 1 & 2 (pp. 3-37). (34 pages)
  3. Jesper Juul, “Videogames and the Classic Game Model”, in Half-Real – Videogames between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds. 2005. Chapter 2 (pp- 23-55). (32 pages)
  4. Markus Montola (2009). “Games and Pervasive Games”, in Pervasive Games – Theory and Design (Eds. Markus Montola, Jaako Stenros, & Annika Waern) Chapter 1 (7-25). (18 pages)
  5. Mathias Fuchs, Sonia Fizek, Paolo Ruffino, & Niklas Schrape (2014). “Introduction”, in Rethinking Gamification, 2014. (pp. 7-21) (14 pages) download: http://meson.press/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/9783957960016-rethinking-gamification.pdf
  6. Nicole Lazarro (2008). The Four Fun Keys, in Game Usability: Advancing the Player Experience. (Eds. Kathrine Isbister & Noah Schaffer). Chapter 20 (pp. 317-343) Elsevier, MA (26 pages)
  7. TBA
  8. TBA

Teaching Approach

The course is taught through workshops where the students present the articles in the course followed by group work and discussions.