[The Digital Worlds uncourse blog experiment was an experiment in authoring an online Open University course in public. A lot of the material in the Digital Worlds blog found it’s way into the Open University course T151 Digital Worlds – designing games, creating alternative realities, which next runs in May 2010. But you can also read it here… for free…]
Have you ever played a computer game – or watched someone playing a computer game, and wondered how the game works, whether from a technical point of view, or at a more psychological level? Why is one game fun to play, for example, when another is not?
Or maybe you’ve noticed an increasing number of television adverts for computer games, many of them looking like big budget Hollywood movie trailers, and asked yourself just how big an industry is computer gaming?
This blogged-course aims to give you a greater understanding of how interactive media in general, and computer games in particular, work. From the technical basics, through the development process, to marketing and distribution; from the simplest 2 dimensional computer arcade games like Pacman and Space Invaders, to immersive three dimensional virtual worlds populated by thousands of other people, you’ll see how the media landscape is changing, and how game technology is helping to drive that change.
First of all, let’s have some ground rules:
- this “course” is not a course about learning how to play computer games better; that said, one of the best ways of learning about game design is to look at – and play – some of the games that are already out there. I’ll direct you to some of these games at appropriate points, as well as providing you with opportunities to explore some virtual worlds, but don’t spend too long playing with them! If you already are a gameplayer, we’ll hopefully provide you with new ways of looking at, and thinking about, the games you play.
- this “course” is not really a course (although it might come to be…). I like to think of it more as a learning diary of my own journey into the world of computer games and interactive media design. I have a map, of a sort, in the form of this interactive mindmap (click through to see it…), which includes topics I’ve been told are worth looking at, but as with all the best journeys, I may stray from the original path I had in mind at times!
- I like weblinks; in fact, I love weblinks. So you may find many of the posts include links to other stories and resources, such as this story I saw yesterday: It’s official: games revenues overtake music at retail (here’s the original press release from the Entertainment Retailers’ Association). Please feel free to follow the links and check out the stories, bookmark/favourite them, or open them in another tab in your browser so you can read them later.
Some links – like the tabbed browsing link – I’ll add ‘in passing’, a bit like links to a glossary in a book (so if the term, concept, or idea is new to you, click through to learn more…:-).
If time is pressing though, you shouldn’t miss out on too much by not following the links….
Along the way, I’ll be exploring how to design and build computer games, as well as exploring some of the digital worlds that are starting to appear all over the web. Each week, I’ll post a mini-tutorial on game development using the Game Maker package (at least at first). You can download Game Maker for free from the YoYo Games website.
What I’d link to think is that the tutorials I’ll post will encourage you take up the challenge of creating your own games – and maybe share them back with me, and other readers of this blog, via various social websites (but we’ll come to those in a later post!)
So are you ready to begin? We’ll start for real, tomorrow, with a look at look at what games are and how they’ve evolved over several hundred years.
In the meantime, why not write down the names of three of your favourite games, and then ask yourself what they have in common.
Once you’ve done that, try to write down your own definition of what a game is…
If you want to share your answers as comments to this post, please do so :-)