This foundational course is part of ArtCenter’s newly launched Game Design Track, a specialization allowing students to learn skills vital to launching a career in the rapidly growing video game industry. Students will learn to analyze and appreciate games as they would a piece of literature or art. From animation choices and sound design to branding and promotion, this class will provide an immersive experience in hands-on gameplay, creative writing and more to explore the connection between the narrative and visual experience in game design.
ArtCenter: How would you describe the class to a prospective student?
Andre Bermudez: In a nutshell, Game Writing Studio is a class for anyone who wants to learn why saving the kingdom, fending off zombies or handling alien weaponry is so much more engaging when you are at the controls. This is a class that focuses on agency and the narrative experience that emerges when designer intent meets player choice.
AC: This is such an evolving field — how did you come with the idea for this course?
AB: It’s been my experience that every student has a story they want to tell, often inspired by the media they grew up with. Students pitched ideas for subjects we should teach, and "Game Writing Studio" was the winner, reflecting a desire to have a class focused on a medium unique to recent generations. After the success of that class, we decided to offer a more advanced version, in which students had to create visuals to help them pitch the game they designed.
The immense amount of knowledge and consideration in every aspect of game design delivered in each class was inspiring and drove us to further flesh out our own creations.Gwendolyn PowellIllustration
AC: What inspired the direction you took with the curriculum?
AB: I was inspired to take a more holistic approach when designing the class curriculum. With the industry continuing to evolve at a rapid pace, I decided it would be beneficial for students to have a fundamental understanding of game design and how gameplay works, alongside visuals and text to create that final narrative experience.
AC: How would you describe your approach to teaching the class?
AB: Our approach has been based on empathy, narrative and emotional engagement. When demonstrating games, we emphasize: ‘Remember how that felt? How did the designer do that to you? Can you make another player feel that in your game?’
AC: This is a field with many job opportunities, how did you create the course in a way that prepares students for this work?
AB: I was inspired by the various (and rigorous) green light meetings in which I've taken part. Many of these involve game studios pitching to publishers. Students design an original game and then present it to the class in the form of a green light deck as a final presentation. Their goal? Get the audience to care about their characters, the story and the overall product.
AC: What are some of the assignments and materials you’ve incorporated into the curriculum that you hope will encourage and provoke students to challenge themselves and break new ground creatively?
AB: Students write journal entries from the perspective of a range of characters, craft interactive narratives, and design characters, logos and game covers. My hope is the lectures and exercises lead to students to appreciate and analyze games on the same level one would break down a piece of literature or an art installation.