Official course description:

Full info last published 15/11-20
Course info
ECTS points:
Course code:
Participants max:
Offered to guest students:
Offered to exchange students:
Offered as a single subject:
Price for EU/EEA citizens (Single Subject):
10625 DKK
MSc. Master
MSc in Games
Course manager
Associate Professor
Course semester
Forår 2021
1 February 2021
14 May 2021
Exam type
ekstern censur
Grade Scale
Exam Language
This course is designed to introduce students to Play Design as a Critical Technical Practice. The goal is to give students theoretical and practical knowledge about play that they can use in different subject areas, from game design and interaction design to software development.

This course leverages the knowledge about game design, programming, and culture that students have acquired in previous semesters, and applies it to the domain of designing playable experiences for different kind of media. It is an application of games and play design to domains beyond games.

Students will gain 4 things:
  1. An understanding of Critical Technical Practice as a method for designing, developing, and analyzing interactive media from the perspective of play.
  2. Design methods and tools to create digital interactive playable experiences, such as games, toys, or playable interfaces.
  3. Development methods for creating and testing playable digital experiences.
  4. Media theory that allows students to identify new trends in technology and design, and develop new concepts for those trends.

Play design, interaction design, game design, media theory.

Formal prerequisites
Students from all ITU programs are welcome to join this course. If prospective students are not familiar with play design and related theories, they must contact the course manager and familiarize themselves with the topic by reading a set of texts recommended by the course manager. Students from the ITU's design programs are expected to be proficient in design research writing, prototyping, and practical design. Students from the ITU's software development programs are expected to be proficient in programming and prototyping. Programming knowledge is an advantage, but not a requirement.
Intended learning outcomes

After the course, the student should be able to:

  • Analyse and discuss the cultural importance of play as a form of expression.
  • Describe how play is used in the development of interactive services and games.
  • Explore and account for how play can be evoked from design practices and principles.
  • Describe the possible uses of play as an instrument or effect of the design of interactive services.
  • Identify the creative and expressive potential of play as a design approach
  • Apply play theory to the design and implementation of experiences in digital environments
Learning activities

The course is divided in four conceptual blocks.

Each block consist of four lectures.

In this course, students will work on one project. The project will have clear constraints, presented and discussed during class. Students will be free to choose which project topic they will work on, and how to approach it.

The suggested topics are:
  • Playful digital service design
  • Toy design
  • Game design
  • Gamification design
  • Playground design
  • Activist media design
  • Playful social media design
  • Disobedient electronics
  • Artistic approaches to digital technology
It is expected that students work in self-arranged groups of no more than 5 people.

Course literature

The course literature is published in the course page in LearnIT.

Student Activity Budget
Estimated distribution of learning activities for the typical student
  • Preparation for lectures and exercises: 10%
  • Lectures: 30%
  • Exercises: 10%
  • Project work, supervision included: 50%
Ordinary exam
Exam type:
C: Submission of written work, External (7-point scale)
Exam variation:
C1G: Submission of written work for groups
Exam submission description:
There are three different types of submissions, depending on the students' interests:

Type 1: Prototype + Written report, 3000 words. Students will deliver a working prototype that has been tested at least once, plus a written report in which they use the prototype as a case study to illustrate some of the core concepts introduced in the course. This submission should be of interests for students who want to combine academic writing in the design/humanities domains, with practical development work. The prototype is graded according to its originality and innovation, rather than the quality of the implementation.

Type 2: Prototype + Tests + Written report, 1500 words. Students will deliver a fully functional prototype, plus results of at least 2 user tests, plus a written report in which they explain the development process of the prototype. This submission should be of interests for students who want to focus on technical development work. The prototype is graded according to its functionality and quality of implementation.

Type 3: Written report that analyses specifical playable media case studies from the perspective of the courses' theory, 6000-10000 words. This submission should be of interest to students who want to do critical, theoretical, analytical work in the domains of the humanities and design research. The report will be graded based on the use of course theory and on the insights provided by the analysis.
Group submission:
  • No more than 5 students

Time and date