Workshop: Game Design, Love and Art in Beijing

University of Skövde teaching at Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing

By Games Researcher Marcus Toftedahl from the University of Skövde

Workshop Beijing: Teachers from University of Skövde teaching
Lars Kristensen and Jenny Brusk helping the Chinese students

During ten warm and sunny days, a team of three game development teachers from the University of Skövde, Jenny Brusk, Lars Kristensen and Marcus Toftedahl visited Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing. We were here to give a game design workshop to Chinese students.

The aim of the workshop was to explore game design theories, art games and game prototyping focusing on a central theme of “Love”.

Three teams of students participated, all with various backgrounds: One team consisted of students from CAFA; the second had a majority of game development professionals; and the third team had teachers and staff from CAFA.

Theme: Love

Workshop Beijing, Marcus Toftedahl teaching

With this mix of both competences and game development experience, our workshop consisted of a daily lecture introducing central concepts related to games and the theme “Love”.

Game design principles, such as the analytical tool “MDA framework” (Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics) was in focus the first day. Here the students learned about both the designer and player perspective of game making as well as the importance of play testing.

We had decided on a theme for the workshop: “Love”. We wanted the students to focus on various aspects of love and its connection to both the biological mechanisms but also social and cultural aspects.

The student teams drew inspiration from these lectures to form their game concepts.

Paper and pen prototyping for efficiency

Workshop Beijing, Chinese students prototyping games

The second day focused solely on paper prototyping of the game ideas. Based on experiences from previous workshops in China (and Sweden), the focus on paper prototypes helps the students to map out their ideas quickly.

With the rapid prototyping with pen and paper, the teams could get feedback on their concepts from both teachers and fellow students only after a few hours.

Three games in ten days

Beijing workshop, game development

Throughout the workshop we introduced more advanced concepts in game design, art games and meaningful play to help the students form their games.

During the remainder of the workshop the students continued to develop their games in iterations. They improved on the design through paper prototyping, and on a later stage starting to develop a digital version based on the prototype.

At the end of the 10-day workshop, the students presented 3 games

  • Diary – A narrative driven game about lost memories and family
  • Pack it! – A puzzle game about caring about your loved ones through packing their bags
  • Cheatership – An action game about the connection between twin siblings, “helping” each other (i.e. cheating) in class

We had a great time at CAFA, teaching and guiding the very motivated student teams towards a first playable prototype.

The students will continue to work with their games as a part of their regular course during the summer.

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