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Designing to Learn, Designed for Fun: An Undergraduate Video Game Development Course

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Design in Freshman and Sophomore Courses

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.412.1 - 25.412.22



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Paper Authors


Michael J. Reese Jr. Johns Hopkins University

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Michael Reese is the Associate Director at the Johns Hopkins Center for Educational Resources. Reese previously worked as an Educational Technologist at Caliber Learning and Booz-Allen and Hamilton. He also consulted with the University of Maryland School of Nursing to launch their distance education program. He earned an M.Ed. in educational technology from the University of Virginia and a B.S. in electrical engineering at Virginia Tech, where he was named the Paul E. Torgersen Leadership Scholar.

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Peter H. Froehlich Johns Hopkins University

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Peter H. Froehlich is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins. Among many other things, he teaches compilers and interpreters, operating systems, systems programming, and video game design. Froehlich holds a diplom-informatiker degree from the Munich University of Applied Sciences in Germany, as well as a Ph.D. in information and computer science from the University of California, Irvine. His research focuses on the fuzzy intersection of software engineering, programming languages, and computer systems.

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Joan Freedman Johns Hopkins University

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Designing to Learn, Designed with Fun: An Undergraduate Game Development Course The author proposes to submit a paper describing the development and implementation of an interdisciplinary, inter‐institutional, design course built upon teams comprised of engineers, humanists, and artists.  Originating in the engineering school of a major research university, Introduction to Game Design partnered humanities and engineering undergraduates of the research university with fine‐arts students from a nationally‐recognized arts school located nearby.  The course included twice weekly lecture‐discussion sessions and a weekly design lab.  Students were required to obtain instructor permission to enroll to allow the professor to balance students roughly categorized as “techies” and “creatives” on project teams that worked together for the entire semester.  Although the students’ academic backgrounds dictated to some extent the division of labor, team members ultimately organized their respective roles and responsibilities and demonstrated that interdisciplinary projects can overcome perceived barriers defined by academic divisions and institutional boundaries.  The course took advantage of students’ common interest in gaming.  Students worked in teams of 4‐6 to create basic video games that addressed pre‐defined requirements.  Local gaming industry employees lectured in the course and mentored students on their projects, providing an important linkage to real‐world applications of design‐based learning.   The paper will summarize the assessment data collected through interviews, surveys, and participant observations along with recommendations that could benefit any interdisciplinary design course.  Best practices and instructional design methodologies to be described, including the following.   benefits of using open‐design standards vs. restrictive design specifications to guide  student projects   role of team contracts in establishing relationships within interdisciplinary teams   impact of pre‐design activities on team cohesion    repercussions of involving industry mentors   advantages and challenges of trying to cross‐train all students on critical aspects of  design and multimedia/authoring technologies, while accommodating students’ desire  to specialize in areas of expertise (graphic design, storytelling, programming, etc.)  during the project‐development phase 

Reese, M. J., & Froehlich, P. H., & Freedman, J. (2012, June), Designing to Learn, Designed for Fun: An Undergraduate Video Game Development Course Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21170

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