Official course description:

Full info last published 20/06-22
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 2022
31 January 2022
31 August 2022
Exam type
ekstern censur
Grade Scale
Exam Language
This course is designed to introduce students to designing play and games from the perspective of Critical Design. 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 both an application of games and play design to domains beyond games and about challenging conventions when designing games.

Students will gain 4 things:
  • An understanding of Critical Design as a strategy for designing, developing, and analyzing interactive media from the perspective of play.
  • Design methods and tools to create digital interactive playable experiences, such as games, toys, or playable interfaces.
  • Media theory that allows students to identify new trends in technology and design, and develop new concepts for those trends.
  • A critical reflexive perspective to one's capacity as a risk-taking and responsible designer in order to identify new paths in game development and beyond.

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 consists of lectures, small non-mandatory exercises, and one exam project. For the exam project, students will work in groups and they are guided to approach their chosen topic unconventionally, from the perspective of critical design.

The resulting digital or digitally enhanced artifact design can be framed within different design traditions from which they seek theoretical and methodological support. These include:  
  • Playful digital service design
  • Toy design
  • Game design
  • Gamification design
  • Playground design
  • Activist media design
  • Playful social media design
  • Interactive installation design
  • Urban and pervasive game design
  • Serious game design
  • Disobedient electronics
  • Artistic approaches to digital technology
  • Critical Technical Practice
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:
Students will be examined based on a prototype and a report that are submitted as a group.

The report consists of an introduction to the project and a set of individual reflection papers written by the team members (2000 words each). The prototype and the report have equal weight in the grading.

The prototype will be graded according to its originality and innovation, rather than the quality of implementation. The individual reflection will be graded based on its clarity, originality, and analytical approach applied. Use of course theory, deep understanding of the value and context of the created prototype, and critical reflection are key attributes of a good report.
Group submission:
  • 2-5

Exam type:
C: Submission of written work, External (7-point scale)
Exam variation:
C1G: Submission of written work for groups
Group submission:
  • 2-5

Time and date