M.A. Digital Games Theory and Design

Brunel University

Application deadline: as early as possible
Tuition fee:
  • € 4,740 / Year (EEA)
  • € 11,841 / Year (Non-EEA)
Start date: September  2014
Credits: 180 ECTS
Duration full-time: 12 months
Languages:
  • English
Location:
Disciplines:
Delivery mode: On Campus
Educational variant: Part-time, Full-time

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Description

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This exciting new programme will enable you to engage in, and experiment with, practical game design. Together we will explore a range of theories and concepts with which to analyse the various values of games, play and pleasure, and go back to 'basics' by considering what it is that makes for 'good' game play. Different types of games are explored with the aim of developing designs that are both innovative and that might appeal beyond the current core markets for digital games.

You will be taught by a team of experienced games researchers, some of whom have played a pioneering role in making game studies a new academic discipline. The programme is led by Professor Tanya Krzywinska, President of Digital Games Research Association, co-author of Tomb Raiders and Space Invaders: Videogames Forms and Meanings (IB Tauris, 2006) and co-editor of ScreenPlay: Cinema/Videogames/Interfaces (Wallflower, 2002) and Videogame/Player/Text (MUP, 2007). The programme is co-taught by Professor Steve Jackson, acclaimed author of interactive fictions, co-founder of GamesWorkshop and Lionhead Studios.

Course Aims * To produce graduates who have a comprehensive and sophisticated understanding of the advanced academic study of digital games and the techniques and principles used in their design.
* To provide the relevant expertise and teaching and learning environment to support students´ critical and creative engagement with issues at the cutting edge of analysing and designing digital games; to enable students to contribute to the process of defining `game studies´ as a new academic discipline.
* To produce graduates who have the skills and knowledge to gain employment in the digital games industry and make contributions to the development of innovative games that go beyond current markets; to equip students with the skills necessary to undertake doctoral level research.

CareersGames industry and related, academic. This programme is likely to be of interest to those who wish to gain expertise in the design of digital games as level designers, Q&A, project managers. It may be of interest to those already working in the industry and to those seeking to enter into an academic career.

Contents

Course DetailsEach module will have a range of assessments; some practical, others written.

* Game Design I (term 1, 30 credits) [practical group design projects (small); written evaluative case study 2000 words; assessed presentation] * Principles behind the rules and play of games. Detailed study of how games function to create experiences, including rule design, play, mechanics/structure, game balancing, social game interaction and the integration of textual strategies to create the gaming experience. A range of paper-based and/or digitally rendered designs trial ideas and provide the focus for an evaluative case study, which is also presented orally.


* Critical Approaches (term 1, 30 credits) [ 2 x 5000 word essays] * Criticism and analysis of games. Detailed study of the different methodological approaches used in the study of games/videogames. Students engage with issues of constructing a vocabulary used to evaluate critically the aesthetics of videogames and their relation to and distinction from other media. Case studies on particular games as objects of critical study.


* Game Design II (term 2, 30 credits) [1 x practical design project tailored to a specific platform (large); written evaluative case study 3000 words; assessed presentation] * Building on work in Game Design I, develop individually a design for a game for a particular platform (phone; PC; handheld, console etc). The game can be delivered in digital format for those with technical skills or as storyboard, character profiles, visual 'mood board'/style palette, sound-effects/music profiling. The project will demonstrate practical application of ideas explored in Critical Approaches to show a deep understanding of concepts of pleasure, genre, core game-play values, structure and rules.


* Socio-cultural Contexts (term 2, 30 credits) [ 2 x 5000 word essays] * Analysis of how games reflect and construct individuals and groups. Detailed study of work conducted on the social-cultural implications of games from across a range of disciplines. In light of these knowledges/findings/theories, a focused case study of an existing MMoRPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) in terms of online economies, community building, fan cultures and creative reworkings of game content, the role of culture in shaping games and the way that games might shape culture.


* Final Project [either 12,000-18,000 words or 8,000 words with practical component - delivered in either digital format or as a design document (term 3, 60 credits).

Students are expected to use the MA forum for discussions and each student is encouraged to sign up for a MMO to enable collective play, which will become the subject of evaluative discussion across the modules.

Special Features

* Students will engage in, and experiment with, practical games creation, with workshops led by designers working in the industry, as well as explore a range of theories and concepts with which to analyse the values of games, play and pleasure.
* This programme offers uniquely a focus on practical games design, informed by theory that is not offered by any other university. It is not a software or graphics training programme.
* We have a team of experienced games researchers teaching on the programme, some of whom have played a pioneering role in making game studies a new academic discipline.

Assessment

A combination of practical games-making work, presentations and essays of varying length.

Teaching Methods

Workshops and seminars led by designers working in the industry, online collaborations, lectures, tutorials.

Requirements

A good honours degree in any of the following areas: arts; humanities; social sciences; multimedia; computing or electrical engineering.

English Language Requirements

* Brunel English Language Test (BrunELTS) - 65% overall, minimum 55% in written section, 50% in each other section.
* IELTS - 6.5 overall, minimum of 5.5. in writing, 5.0 in each other section.
* TOEFL (Computer based) - 237 plus TWE 4.5
* TOEFL (Internet Based) - 92, minimum 15 in each section (20 for masters courses)
* TOEFL (Paper Based) - 580 plus TWE 4.5

English Language Requirements

IELTS band: 6.5
CAE score: (read more)

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) is part of the Cambridge English suite and is targeted at a high level (IETLS 6.5-8.0). It is an international English language exam set at the right level for academic and professional success. Developed by Cambridge English Language Assessment - part of the University of Cambridge - it helps you stand out from the crowd as a high achiever.

60 (Grade C)
TOEFL paper-based test score : 580
TOEFL iBT® test: 92

IMPORTANT NOTE: Since April 2014 the ETS tests (including TOEFL and TOEIC) are no longer accepted for Tier 4 visa applications to the United Kingdom. The university might still accept these tests to admit you to the university, but if you require a Tier 4 visa to enter the UK and begin your degree programme, these tests will not be sufficient to obtain your Visa.

The IELTS test is most widely accepted by universities and is also accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK- learn more.

Funding

The Brunel International Scholarship

The Brunel International Scholarship is an annual award scheme designed to promote talent and encourage excellence in scholars coming to Brunel from around the globe. For 2010/11, 35 awards of either £3,000 or £2,000 are available to both undergraduate and postgraduate students who have been offered a place on a full-time course at Brunel.

All applications must be submitted online before 26 May 2010.

Bursaries

Bursaries may be available from your School, and your course director once you have secured and accepted a place on a course for information on any funding opportunities.

* A limited number of part-scholarships of £1,500 are available for the MA programmes in Music and Drama. Details will be sent to candidates who have confirmed their intention to study at Brunel in the 2010/11 academic year.
* The Leaders of Tomorrow PhD Bursary in Human Centred Design is supported by a donation from Brunel graduate and philanthropist Peter Ilori. The bursary provides £5,000 of financial support towards the study fees of high-achieving graduates who wish to pursue a PhD in Human Centred Design. Selection is based on the quality of applicants´ PhD study proposal.

Extra-curricular scholarships

Extra-curricular scholarships do not cover living costs or tuition fees. They are available to both taught and research students.

A number of Music Awards to help cover music tuition costs are made each year to students who are not studying music performance as part of their academic course.

The Brunel Sports Scholarship helps elite performance athletes by supporting their academic study and sporting needs simultaneously.

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