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Serious Games As Software Engineering Capstone Projects

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Software Engineering Course Content

Tagged Division

Software Engineering Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1071.1 - 13.1071.12



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Paper Authors


Bruce Maxim University of Michigan - Dearborn

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Bruce R. Maxim is an Associate Professor of Computer and Information Science at the University of Michigan-Dearborn where has taught courses on software engineering, game design, and artificial intelligence for 23 years. His current research interests include software usability and accessibility issues, game development, and software quality assurance.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Serious Games as Software Engineering Capstone Projects Abstract

This paper describes the author’s experiences with teaching an industry-based capstone design course. In this course, students work as members of small teams to complete software development projects. These projects proceed from requirements gathering, to analysis, design, implementation, and delivery of products to real-world clients. In recent years, several of these projects have involved the development of serious games for real-world clients. Serious games are games whose purpose is education in its various forms, rather than entertainment. Serious games and simulations can be good candidates for student projects that provide them with opportunities to manage projects with real-world development constraints and deadlines. A final cumulative written report and oral presentation is required of all teams, along with a formal acceptance letter from their real-world client. The student projects and design activities that result from this course receive frequent praise from local computing professionals and accrediting agency reviewers.


The idea of a capstone project course for undergraduate computing majors is not new. The authors proposed creating such a course at the University of Michigan-Dearborn in 1993. Capstone courses in computing have traditionally tried to provide senior students with experiences similar to those encountered in professional practice3, 4, 6, 8. In several cases, course developers make argue that the purpose of such a course is to help the students integrate theoretical computing concepts with the demands of computing practice.

One approach in recent years has been to involve students in projects that satisfy the needs of real-world clients. Real-world capstone design projects can satisfy the expectations of ABET7. One difficulty with this approach has been the fact that real-world problems frequently require more that one semester to solve. Because of this, some schools have offered the senior design experience as a two-semester course sequence or have offered the course outside of the normal academic year2.

Several real-world project courses require students to work on teams as a practical lesson in group dynamics1, 2, 8. Most instructors organize their courses around the notion of having students follow a computing project from its feasibility study through its design, implementation, documentation, and testing phases.

There is consensus among members of our department’s professional advisory board that professional practice invariably requires strong verbal and written communication skills. To develop their oral communications skills, students need opportunities to make presentations and to have opportunities to review other students' presentations. Some instructors believe that the project activities inherent in real-world software development encourage students to improve their written and oral communication skills1, 5.

Maxim, B. (2008, June), Serious Games As Software Engineering Capstone Projects Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4028

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