Game Career Guide is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Get the latest Education e-news
  • Thesis: Game Design and Architecture

    - Christopher W. Totten

  • During my playtesting phase, I became aware of a cognitive scientist named Donald Norman who has been writing on the way the mind problem-solves and designs at play versus how it does the same in work environments. In his book Emotional Design, Norman discusses how in a state of play, the mind works in a "breadth-first", out-of-the-box fashion as opposed to the "depth-first" fashion that occurs when people work in stressful conditions. 

    Aside from the new focus on the emotions and experience of the user, playtesters also reported that their designs were different because they felt they could make more creative moves while in the play environment of the game. Additionally, the playtesters enjoyed the Cabal mechanics and it allowed players in group studio classes to eliminate many of their internal problems. 

    Such was the case between two senior students in Catholic University's Comprehensive Building Design Studio, where students set up simulated architecture firms and create a fully specified set of construction drawings. These players were both in a group that had a lot of internal problems with work flow, and playing the game together allowed them to explore better ways to design collaboratively for the betterment of the team instead of for their own desires to have the most implemented ideas. 

    I presented this work at Catholic University with an "arcade" of laptops showing off the building results of the playtests in the game Half-Life 2:  Episode Two, graphic assets showing photos of the playtests, and a slideshow displayed on my Nintendo Wii's Photo Channel (my laptop was busy being part of the arcade.)

    For the project, I was elected to be in the top seven thesis projects that displayed in my school's "super jury" presentation event. The work with Game Design and Architecture is not finished, however, as the study of the psychology of the Cabal, the potential of Source and other game engines, the role of the core mechanic in the architectural design process, and the potential for creating other parts of the architect's work or other professions into similar games are all avenues I would like to explore myself or see someone else explore. 

    You can download Totten's full thesis here.

    Thesis for the completion of the degree:  Master of Architecture

    The Catholic University of America School of Architecture and Planning

    Washington D.C.      

    Thesis Coordinator/committee member:  Matthew Geiss, MArch

    Thesis Advocate:  George Martin, MArch

    Thesis committee member:  Carlos Barrios, PhD.

    Outside consultant:  Chris Chin, Level designer, Valve Corporation

    Contents of paper:

    Table of contents
    Chapter I:  Introduction -- On the Design of Architecture and Games
    Chapter II:  Parti vs. Core Mechanic -- Generators of Design
    Chapter III:  Narrative and Meaning -- A Second Generator of Design
    Chapter IV:  The Rules of Games and Spaces
    Chapter V:  Architecture: The Game
    Chapter VI:  Designing Design
    Chapter VII:  Welcome to City 17
    Chapter VIII:  Observations and Future Work
    Appendix A:  Experiential Design Considerations of Games and Architecture
    Appendix B:  Game Design and Architecture Course at The Catholic University of America -- Fall 2008. 
    Research Bibliography


comments powered by Disqus