Player Engagement: UX and Social Network Design
  I: Administrative Information   II: Course Details   III: Topical Outline(s)  Printable Version
Section I: Administrative Information
  Total hours: 42.0
Credit Value: 3.0
Credit Value Notes: N/A
Effective: Winter 2022
Prerequisites: GAME37183
Corequisites: N/A
Equivalents: N/A
Pre/Co/Equiv Notes: N/A

Program(s): Bachelor of Game Design
Program Coordinator(s): Jeffrey Pidsadny
Course Leader or Contact: N/A
Version: 20220110_00
Status: Approved

Section I Notes: The Program-wide Design Challenge is a week-long assignment that challenges students to work in teams to research, design and propose solutions to a defined game design problem. Similar in spirit to game jams or hackathons, the activity encourages students to propose innovative solutions while applying the lessons they have learned in class. During the design challenge, faculty provide supportive mentorship through scheduled consultations. The activity is typically scheduled for the week after Reading Week. Teams are assigned and composed of students from across multiple years of the program. The details of the activity, including the day-to-day schedule, are defined at the discretion of the Game Design faculty. During the week of the design challenge, students are expected to attend their regularly scheduled Breadth elective courses.

Section II: Course Details

Detailed Description
Designing games that keep audiences engaged requires a strong understanding of human behaviour, capabilities, and limitations. Students explore the principles and methodologies of game user experience (UX) design to improve the accessibility, usability and "engage-ability" of a game. Many modern games rely on the communities that are built around them. Students examine the principles of social design to improve their ability to build and foster online game communities. Through interactive lectures, in-class exercises, game analyses and applied projects, students apply principles of UX and social science to game design.

Program Context

Bachelor of Game Design Program Coordinator(s): Jeffrey Pidsadny
Player Engagement: UX & Social Network Design is an advanced design theory and practice course that builds on all previous core courses in the game design stream. The course introduces students to advanced design methods in game UX and social network games that students are expected to apply in their subsequent Capstone courses.

Course Critical Performance and Learning Outcomes

  Critical Performance:
By the end of this course students will have demonstrated the ability to propose game designs that incorporate UX principles and demonstrate social network design considerations.
Learning Outcomes:

To achieve the critical performance, students will have demonstrated the ability to:

  1. Describe the cognitive factors that influence a player's game experience.
  2. Explain fundamental game UX design principles and player engagement design principles and how they are applied to enhance user experience.
  3. Explain UX considerations in documenting a game design.
  4. Identify types of social networks and online communities as they relate to games.
  5. Recognize the implications of various types of social networks on user behaviour.
  6. Analyze factors of tribes and leadership to inform design choices in social network design.
  7. Apply social network theory and game design methodologies in the specification of a social network game.
  8. Defend design decisions, referring to theory and principles, in both written documentation and oral presentations.

Evaluation Plan
Students demonstrate their learning in the following ways:

 Evaluation Plan: IN-CLASS
 Assignment 1 - Cognitive Factors Analysis15.0%
 In-class Exercises (3 @ 5%)15.0%
 Assignment 2 - Game UX On-boarding Plan20.0%
 Program-wide Design Challenge5.0%
 Assignment 3 - Online Game Community Analysis20.0%
 Assignment 4 - Social Network Game Design25.0%

Evaluation Notes and Academic Missed Work Procedure:
Academic Missed Work Procedure (Late Submission Policy) All assignments are due within 15 minutes of a deadline set by the professor. Assignments submitted after this time, and up to one day late, will receive a 5% grade reduction. Work submitted after this time, and up to three days late, will receive a 10% grade reduction. Work that is more than three days late will not be graded. Re-submission of work might be granted under exceptional circumstances, at the discretion of the professor. A student may request an extension, stating the reason in writing to the professor at least one day before the deadline. An extension may be granted at the discretion of the professor. Missed in-class activities, assignments and presentations are awarded a grade of zero. A student expecting to be absent from a class activity where a grade would be earned must notify the professor in writing at least one day prior to the scheduled date and make arrangements to reschedule. An extension or alternative evaluation arrangements may be granted at the discretion of the professor. As a rule, work is not accepted after the last day of the term. A student may request in writing an extension to submit work after the last day of the term. An extension may be granted at the discretion of the professor.

Provincial Context
The course meets the following Ministry of Colleges and Universities requirements:


Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition
PLAR Contact (if course is PLAR-eligible) - Office of the Registrar
Students may apply to receive credit by demonstrating achievement of the course learning outcomes through previous relevant work/life experience, service, self-study and training on the job. This course is eligible for challenge through the following method(s):

  • Portfolio and Interview
    Notes:  Both are required.

Section III: Topical Outline
Some details of this outline may change as a result of circumstances such as weather cancellations, College and student activities, and class timetabling.
Instruction Mode: In-Class
Professor: N/A
RequiredTextbookThe gamer's brain: How neuroscience and UX can impact video game design, Celia Hodent, CRC Press, 2017
RequiredTextbookBuilding successful online communities: Evidence-based social design, R.E. Kraus et al, MIT Press, 2012
OptionalTextbookGame on: Energize your business with social media games, J. Radoff, Wiley Publishing Inc, 2011

Applicable student group(s): Students of Bachelor of Game Design
Course Details:

Module 1: Understanding the Brain

  • Overview
    • Brain and Mind Myths
    • Cognitive Bias
    • Mental Models
  • Perception
    • Limitations of Human Perception
    • Gestalt Principles
  • Memory
    • Sensory Memory
    • Short-term Memory
    • Long-term Memory
    • Limitations of Human Memory
  • Attention
    • Limitations of Human Attention
  • Motivation
    • Implicit Motivation and Biological Drives
    • Personality and Individuals Needs
  • Emotion
    • When Emotion Guides our Cognition
    • When Emotion Tricks Us
  • Learning Principles
    • Behavioural Psychology Principles
    • Cognitive Psychology Principles
    • Constructivist Principles
       Assignment #1: Cognitive Factors Analysis– 15%
       In-class exercises (2x 5%) – 10%
Module 2: Game UX
  • Introduction to Game UX
    • Short History of UX
      • Debunking UX Misconceptions
    • Game UX
  • Usability
    • Usability Heuristics in Software and Videogames
      • Visibility of system status, mapping, user control and freedom, consistency and standards, error prevention, recognition over recall, flexibility and efficiency of use, help users recognize, diagnose and recover from errors
    • Seven Usability Pillars of Game UX
      • Signs and Feedback, Clarity, Form Follows Function, Consistency, Minimum Workload, Error Prevention and Error Recovery, Flexibility
  • Engage-Ability
    • Motivation
    • Emotion
    • Game Flow
       Assignment #2: Game UX Onboarding Plan – 20%
       In-class exercises (1x 5%) – 5%
       Program-wide Design Challenge – 5%
Module 3: Social Design
  • Introduction to Social Science and Social Network Theory
  • Online Communities
    • Tribes and Leadership
    • Online Game Communities
    • Critical Design Challenges
       Assignment #3: Online Game Community Analysis – 20%
  • Starting a New Community
  • Attracting and Socializing New Members
  • Encouraging Commitment
  • Encouraging Contribution
  • Regulating Behaviour
  • Design Patterns for Addressing Toxicity in Game Communities
      Assignment #4: Social Game Design – 25%

Sheridan Policies

All Sheridan policies can be viewed on the Sheridan policy website.

Academic Integrity: The principle of academic integrity requires that all work submitted for evaluation and course credit be the original, unassisted work of the student. Cheating or plagiarism including borrowing, copying, purchasing or collaborating on work, except for group projects arranged and approved by the professor, or otherwise submitting work that is not the student's own, violates this principle and will not be tolerated. Students who have any questions regarding whether or not specific circumstances involve a breach of academic integrity are advised to review the Academic Integrity Policy and procedure and/or discuss them with the professor.

Copyright: A majority of the course lectures and materials provided in class and posted in SLATE are protected by copyright. Use of these materials must comply with the Acceptable Use Policy, Use of Copyright Protected Work Policy and Student Code of Conduct. Students may use, copy and share these materials for learning and/or research purposes provided that the use complies with fair dealing or an exception in the Copyright Act. Permission from the rights holder would be necessary otherwise. Please note that it is prohibited to reproduce and/or post a work that is not your own on third-party commercial websites including but not limited to Course Hero or OneNote. It is also prohibited to reproduce and/or post a work that is not your own or your own work with the intent to assist others in cheating on third-party commercial websites including but not limited to Course Hero or OneNote.

Intellectual Property: Sheridan's Intellectual Property Policy generally applies such that students own their own work. Please be advised that students working with external research and/or industry collaborators may be asked to sign agreements that waive or modify their IP rights. Please refer to Sheridan's IP Policy and Procedure.

Respectful Behaviour: Sheridan is committed to provide a learning environment that supports academic achievement by respecting the dignity, self-esteem and fair treatment of every person engaged in the learning process. Behaviour which is inconsistent with this principle will not be tolerated. Details of Sheridan's policy on Harassment and Discrimination, Academic Integrity and other academic policies are available on the Sheridan policy website.

Accessible Learning: Accessible Learning coordinates academic accommodations for students with disabilities. For more information or to register, please see the Accessible Learning website (Statement added September 2016)

Course Outline Changes: The information contained in this Course Outline including but not limited to faculty and program information and course description is subject to change without notice. Any changes to course curriculum and/or assessment shall adhere to approved Sheridan protocol. Nothing in this Course Outline should be viewed as a representation, offer and/or warranty. Students are responsible for reading the Important Notice and Disclaimer which applies to Programs and Courses.

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