CMS.611J | Fall 2014 | Undergraduate

Creating Video Games


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 3 hours / session


CMS.608 Game Design or 6.01 Introduction to EECS I


Students will learn creative design and production methods, working together in small teams to design, develop, and thoroughly test their own original digital games. Design iteration across all aspects of video game development (game design, audio design, visual aesthetics, fiction and programming) will be stressed. Students will also be required to focus test their games, and will need to support and challenge their game design decisions with appropriate focus testing and data analysis.


Preparedness for Class 25%
Project 1 15%
Project 2 15%
Project 3 15%
Project 4 30%

Preparedness includes overall participation in individual and group exercises in class and group focus testing, as well as the Game Engine Tutorial Assignment.

Project Grading Criteria

This course is about learning effective processes and procedures for working as a team on a complex, multifunctional project. While it is important to deliver your projects successfully, we want to teach you how to practice and improve your project management and group teamwork skills. Your project grades will depend heavily on the methods, tools, and processes you use to develop your games, as well as the justification and explanation of the choices you made in organizing your team and your project. We use multiple methods to capture this information, including presentations, written reports, design diaries, project management documentation, and mandatory in-class playtesting sessions.

Project Grading Breakdown

Game Functionality 20%
Iterative Design Process 20%
Project Management 20%
Individual Postmortem 20%
Group Postmortem Presentation 20%

Note that 80% of each project grade is shared with your team.

  • Game functionality: Meeting the specific project constraints as well as our basic standards of playability, code stability and adequate user feedback.
  • Iterative Design Process: Adherence to and rigorous use of iterative design process, including responsiveness to tester and instructor feedback (focus test reports, changelogs).
  • Project Management: Teamwork and project management, including the thoughtful and consistent use of project management methods and tools (tasklists, backlog, design documents).
  • Individually written postmortem, including clarity and depth of writing.
  • Group postmortem presentation, including clarity and depth of presentation.


Because this class emphasizes participation and teamwork, and because you will have to work closely with your classmates to complete each project, the faculty reserve the right to warn and penalize the participation grade of any student who engages in antisocial or disruptive behavior (see our anti-harassment policy). Regular and consistent class attendance is mandatory. You may receive a failing grade if you miss more than 3 classes without justification and approval from the instructors. However, we intend to be lenient on absences due to illnesses and discourage working when you are sick. Meeting up with classmates in person while you have a contagious illness is particularly discouraged. Please email the instructors before the start of class if you will be absent due to illness.


Students will not be allowed into the classroom from 5 minutes in until the end of any lecture in progress, including scheduled guest lectures. This is to avoid disruption to the lecturer, fellow students, and future students (i.e. those watching the MIT-OCW posted videos). Once the lecture is over, late students will be able to enter the classroom, work in the remaining class period, and register their attendance. Lateness with a previously approved excuse will not affect participation grades. Lateness without an excuse will not count as a complete absence, but will result in a lower participation grade.


Postmortems, written game rules, and any other delivered writings are expected to be clear, spell-checked, and demonstrate a high proficiency in written English. Advice about writing and oral presentations can be found at the Writing and Communication Center at MIT website.


This class does not have a required textbook, but a useful book to read for advice on game design is
Brathwaite, Brenda, and Ian Schreiber. Challenges for Game Designers. Charles River Media, 2009.

Statement on Plagiarism

Plagiarism—use of another’s intellectual work without acknowledgement—is a serious offense. It is the policy of the CMSW Faculty that students who plagiarize will receive an F in the subject, and that the instructor will forward the case to the Committee on Discipline. Full acknowledgement for all information, code and assets obtained from sources outside the classroom must be clearly stated in all written work submitted. All ideas, arguments, and direct phrasings taken from someone else’s work must be identified and properly footnoted. Quotations from other sources must be clearly marked as distinct from the student’s own work. For further guidance on the proper forms of attribution, consult the MIT website on Plagiarism.

Statement on Harassment

The MIT Game Lab is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of race, color, sex, disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran’s status, age, physical appearance, or body size. Classes and events that are held by the MIT Game Lab or that are sponsored by the lab and held on on MIT grounds, follow MIT’s policy on harrassment, which includes MIT’s policy on sexual harassment, as found in Section 9.5 of MIT Policies and Procedures: A Guide for Faculty and Staff Members. MIT also has Guidelines for Raising Complaints about Harassment. Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention. If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact an instructor immediately. As an institution, we have adopted a statement of Responsible and Ethical Conduct at MIT. The statement is a compilation of existing, longstanding policies that individually and taken as a whole express the Institute’s expectations of how we treat each other, and the manner in which we carry out our responsibilities as educators, researchers and administrators. We are also reaffirming our belief that ethical behavior applies to every member of our community. We all share responsibility in ensuring compliance with the values and principles contained within this statement of Responsible and Ethical Conduct at MIT. Please direct any questions about this policy to your instructors.

Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Projects with Examples
Course Introduction
Lecture Videos
Instructor Insights