An Example Game Design Document Template

In The Process of Game Creation & the Game Design Document I introduced the idea of a game design document, briefly considering the purpose of such a document in the game development process, as well as looking at its general structure.

I have added a draft outline for a Game Design Document as a template page on the Digital Worlds wiki, based on example documents form Creating A Game – Milestone 0 – Design Phase – or: “Writing a Design Document” and Game Design Document Template (from the Game Design Novice).

How does the structure of my draft design document compare with structure of the design documents mentioned in the The Process of Game Creation & the Game Design Document post? If you have developed your own design document structure, what similarities and differences are there between your document and mine?

Feel free to use the draft design document as a starting point for your own design document for any games you care to develop in the future. Simply add a new page to the wiki, select the Game Design Document template and the page will be prepopulated with the draft design document structure. Change at will… :-)

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10 Responses to “An Example Game Design Document Template”


  1. 1 James Bishop January 21, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    A friend of mine is an aspiring screenwriter and often goes to the library of congress to copyright his works. I went with him one day and while there I asked the clerk there about copyrighting Game Design Documents. The clerk said that it can’t be done but if I make a game I can bring a copy of that down and copyright it. I was surprised at this because basically… if what he is saying is true the writer of a game design document is completely unprotected under the law from having his story, characters and whole ideas just plain stolen. Is there a way for up and coming game artists/designers to protect their work at all or are we on a wing and a prayer when we submit an idea to a company?

    -Bishop

  2. 2 Roland Ariens March 9, 2009 at 11:04 am

    I realy like to know more about the same topic “James Bishop” was talking. I got game ideas myself and worked out in Game Design Documents, but if im correct the best way to protect your idea is to not share it with anyone. But i would like to take my ideas and show them to companies, publishers ect. How can this be done with them running away with my ideas?

  3. 3 Anony March 24, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    I would read up on a NDA or Non-Disclosure Agreements. Create one, have prospective team members sign it before reading your design doc. Supposedly, they’re then legally obliged not to take your materials. Hope this helps.

  4. 4 david May 24, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    I was at a game design workshop last week. The instructor worked with Lucas and Spielberg, and he said that the NDA is the route to take. He said it’s a decision you would have to make: either take the chance and submit it so it can be funded and published, or keep it all to yourself and try to fund and publish it. He said a game targeted for an X-Box or PS3 can easily cost 10-15Million to produce. It’s a lot cheaper to go the iPhone route because you essentially put the game up for download immediately after production.

  5. 5 Rene St-pierre September 13, 2009 at 12:35 am

    A new tool for educational video game design

    Hi,

    In November 2008 as a speaker in the serious games category of the Montreal International Game Summit (MIGS) 2008, I presented the results of my doctoral dissertation on educational video game design. I believe that the research and creative methodology of my dissertation can be very useful in school, extracurricular (museum, cultural centre, etc.) and business contexts for equipping art, science and technology trainers, facilitators and instructors and such professionals in other fields conducive to the use of educational or serious games. I also believe that the web site presenting my work might be useful to your professional community working in game art & design, educational video game development, research and promotion.

    Here is the link to MIGS 2008:

    http://www.sijm.ca/2008/en-contributors-2.html

    And the link to the Web version of my dissertation:

    http://www.clikmedia.ca/CM/

    I am available to answer your questions or to collaborate in the development of your professional and research community.

    I was also wondering if you do have in mind a name that you could refer to me as someone who would be interested with this specific subject?

    Sincerely,

    René St-Pierre
    M.A. Communication
    Ph.D. Art Studies and Practices

  6. 6 game design September 29, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    For up and coming designers I think non-disclosure forms are a must if you are looking for funding. If at all possible have it looked over by a lawyer that way you won’t have to worry about loop-holes you might not have thought of.

  7. 7 Elaine Russell November 21, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Yes. As far as I know, you can’t copyright a game idea. You can only have copyright protection on the creation of the idea. Unfortunately, an idea is seen as not worth a lot. It’s the implementation of the idea that counts.

  8. 8 Me3 December 6, 2011 at 3:46 am

    What is the copyright on fiction or literature in relation to adapting it to some other form like movies, film, video, games, etc?


  1. 1 Stumbling into design « char vLog Trackback on September 18, 2011 at 9:37 am
  2. 2 10 Recursos de diseño de videojuegos | Desarrolladores de Videojuegos Trackback on January 9, 2012 at 9:01 am

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