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Module UXS-2800:
Game Design Level & Mechanics

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Miss Isabel Vincent

Overall aims and purpose

Games differ from other media in that the fictional world emerges from the player's actions; it is not defined by an authorial narrative. The game designer prepares a space of potential experience, creating the possibility for the player to explore and engage in ways that will be fun and challenging. In this module you will develop skills in building a world, the rules that govern it and the events with which the player may engage. You will learn to design the look of the level, how the player moves about, the sound effects, pacing, goals and rewards, character design, plot and narrative. You will have the opportunity in the module to develop your design plans into an industry standard design document for a series of levels, characters and a narrative that provides engaging challenges suited to a range of player abilities and game progression.

Course content

  • Game dynamics and emergent gameplay
  • Game aesthetics and game worlds
  • Goals and hierarchies
  • Structure and methodology
  • Emotional feedback systems
  • World building
  • Visual experience
  • Story & narrative and Game time
  • Immersion, presence and flow
  • Puzzles and challenges

Assessment Criteria


Good (C- to B+)

  • Strong knowledge of key areas/principles
  • Understanding of theoretical underpinnings
  • Evidence of background study
  • Limited original interpretation
  • Well known links between topics are described
  • Problems addressed by existing methods/approaches
  • Good presentation with accurate communication


Threshold (D- to D+)

  • Knowledge of key areas/principles only
  • Weaknesses in understanding of main areas
  • Limited evidence of background study
  • No original interpretation
  • Only major links between topics are described
  • Limited problem solving
  • Many weaknesses in presentation and accuracy


Excellent (A- to A**)

  • Comprehensive knowledge
  • Detailed understanding
  • Extensive background study
  • Original interpretation
  • New links between topics are developed
  • New approach to a problem
  • Excellent presentation with very accurate communication

Learning outcomes

  1. Experiement with mechanics and aesthetics to design a series of levels which allow player achievement and emergent gameplay

  2. Develop character concepts (player and non-player) that develop the narrative and provide engaging challenges

  3. Research and employ ideas from the games industry, gaming, consumer research, game theory and narrative theory

  4. Employ production skills to design game mechanics that reflect a range of player abilities, game progression and challenge.

  5. Initiate, develop and realize a consistent and engaging game world concept

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
LOGBOOK OR PORTFOLIO Prototype Portfolio 67
LOGBOOK OR PORTFOLIO Playtest Annotation 33

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Interactive lecture introducing weekly topics and tasks

Practical classes and workshops

Small group activities exploring ideas from the readings, lectures and structured activities

Private study

Individual research and development work.

Study group

Weekly team meetings for idea generation, design and testing


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • An understanding of creative and critical processes, and of the wide range of skills inherent in creative writing. (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.1).
  • An awareness of writing and publishing contexts, opportunities and audiences in the wider world (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.1).
  • Artistic engagement and ability to articulate complex ideas in oral and written forms. (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • Ability to connect creative and critical ideas between and among forms, techniques and types of creative and critical praxis. (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • Reflective practitioner skills, including awareness of the practice of others in collaborative learning (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • The ability to synthesize information from various sources, choosing and applying appropriate concepts and methods (English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Ability to formulate and solve problems, anticipate and accommodate change, and work within contexts of ambiguity, uncertainty and unfamiliarity (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Ability to engage in processes of drafting and redrafting texts to achieve clarity of expression and an appropriate style. (English Benchmark Statement 3.3; NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2).
  • Ability to gather information, analyse, interpret and discuss different viewpoints (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).
  • Information technology (IT) skills broadly understood and the ability to access, work with and evaluate electronic resources (NAWE Creative Writing Benchmark Statement 3.2; English Benchmark Statement 3.3).


Resource implications for students

There are no special resource implications for this module, but students are encouraged to purchase the core texts.

Talis Reading list

Reading list

Core texts

Kremers, R. (2010) Level Design: Concept, theory, & practice. Boca Rotan, FL: Peters.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: