USC School of Cinematic Arts, CTIN 456 Instructors: Chris Swain, Dan Arey, and Vincent Diamante
(310) 403 0798
(310) 663 0949
(213) 840 0645
Course Description: CTIN 456 Business of Game Design is a commerce-oriented subset of CTIN 488 Game Design Workshop. CTIN 456 meets Tuesday nights for a lecture and is a two unit course. Lectures provide a combination of history, theory, and practice about the game industry. The design aspects of games is stressed in order to make business students literate in the ways that developers work and games in general work. Students will do in-class creative exercises but will not have take home design assignments. Assignments include interviewing game industry executives and write two business-oriented papers about the game industry.
CTIN 456 is designed to provide knowledge for the business professional to communicate effectively with creative and technical professionals in game-related ventures. This knowledge is designed to help business professionals be more capable managers, marketers, executives, and investors.
Concept through Delivery - Discussion of teams, process and documentation. Design and planning documents from actual products will be distributed.
Business of Games - Game market statistics, publisher/developer relationships, royalties & deal structures.
Game Design Workshop
Chapters 12 and 14
Chapters 15 and 16
Week 14: Guest Speaker
Week 14 Lecture (11/27): Guest Speaker: tbd
Week 15: Course Wrap Up
Week 15 Lecture (12/4): Final Presentation Night, Quiz #3, and Course Wrap-Up
In-Class Design Exercises:
The In-Class Design exercises will consist of short, focused assignments that can be completed and playtested during the lab time. These exercises will give students hands-on experience with core concepts in game design, including breaking and balancing systems, changing game variables and system scope, designing for meaningful choice, brainstorming, conceptualization, and responding to player feedback.
CTIN 456 students are required to complete four “play experiments” as follows.
Mobile Games – students are required to play the free cell phone game “Dodgeball” as a class for one week. Each student must submit a photo essay / Powerpoint presentation format that illustrates a) how the game works, b) the story of what happened during their week of play, and c) a short analysis of how the business of Dodgeball works.
Web 2.0 Games – students are required to play the free Facebook game “Bunchball” as a class. Each student must submit a photo essay / Powerpoint presentation that illustrates a) how the game works, b) the story of what happened during their week of play, and c) an analysis of how the business of Bunchball works.
Marketing with Games – Distributed Narratives – students are required to play an Alternate Reality Game from 42 Entertainment (exact game tbd) as a class for one week. Each student must submit a photo essay / Powerpoint presentation that illustrates a) how the game works, b) the story of what happened during their week of play, and c) a short analysis of how the business of the game works.
Microtransactions in Games – students are required to play the free online game “Maple Story” as a class for one week. Each student must submit a photo essay / Powerpoint presentation that illustrates a) how the game works, b) the story of what happened during their week of play, and c) a short analysis of how the business of the game works.
Interview with a Game Executive Assignment
Each student must schedule an interview with a publishing or marketing executive from the game industry. A one page write-up summarizing what the student learned from the interview is due two weeks after the assignment is given.
Paper 1: Game Publishing
Students are required to choose an aspect of game publishing and write a 3-5 page research paper analyzing it. Students are free to choose any aspect of game publishing including console games, PC games, mobile games, casual games, Web 2.0 games, digitally distributed games, games that require peripherals, collectible card games, etc. Students must show an analytical understanding of the chosen business and draft a short pitch statement for a proposed publishing venture.
Paper 2: Game Ventures
Students are required to develop concept for a game related business venture and write a 3-5 page research paper about it. The paper should include a vision statement, an analysis of the target customer, and analysis of the revenue streams for the venture. Students are free to choose any aspect of games.
The textbook is “Game Design Workshop: Designing, Prototyping and Playtesting Games.” It is available at the University bookstore or online at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
Course Website Address:
http://www.swaincorp.com/456 Missing an Exam, Incompletes:
The only acceptable excuses for missing an exam or taking an incomplete in the course are personal illness or a family emergency. Students must inform the professor before the exam and present verifiable evidence in order for a make-up to be scheduled. Students who wish to take incompletes must also present documentation of the problem to the instructor or teaching assistant before final grades are due.
Note for students with disabilities:
Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be sure the letter is delivered to us as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in STU 301, and is open 8:30am5:00pm Monday through Friday. The phone number for DSP is (213) 740-0776.
The School of Cinema-Television expects the highest standards of academic excellence and ethical performance from USC students. It is particularly important that you are aware of and avoid plagiarism, cheating on exams, submitting a paper to more than one instructor, or submitting a paper authored by anyone other than yourself. Violations of this policy will result in a failing grade band be reported to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs. If you have any doubts or questions about these policies, consult “SCAMPUS” and/or confer with the instructor.
Chris is an Assistant Professor at the USC School of Cinema and the Co-Director of the Electronic Arts Game Innovation Lab at USC. He has been a professional game designer for 15 years. He designed over 150 interactive products in industry before coming to academia.
His research projects in the EA Game Innovation Lab at USC include:
The Redistricting Game – a game designed to educate US voters about the issues of congressional redistricting. The project strives to engage and empower citizens to get involved in their own governance – http://www.redistricting.org . Funding is by the USC Annenberg Center for Communications.
Immune Attack – realtime strategy game that teaches immunology. It’s set in the human blood stream. Collaborators are USC’s GamePipe Laboratory, Brown University, and Federation of American Scientists. Funding is by the National Science Foundation - http://www.fas.org/immuneattack/
ELECT Bi-Lat – simulation game that teaches bi-lateral negotiation and cultural sensitivity to US military officers in Iraq. Collaborators are USC’s Institute of Creative Technologies. Funding is by the US Army.
ELECT urbanSIM – simulation game that teaches urban battlefield management to US military commanders in Iraq. Collaborators are USC’s Institute of Creative Technologies. Funding is by the US Army.
America’s New New Deal – a game that examines America’s shift from a New Deal economy to an ownership economy. Based on data from prize winning LA Times reporter Peter Gossellin. Collaborators are the LA Times. Funding is by the Rockefeller Foundation.
Chris is co-author of the book Game Design Workshop, published 2004 by CMP Books. He specializes in original play mechanics and new kinds of interactivity.
Previously, Chris was a founder of game developer, Spiderdance, Inc. Spiderdance’s mass audience interactive television games included NBC’s Weakest Link, MTV’s webRIOT, The WB’s No Boundaries, History Channel’s History IQ among others.
Prior to Spiderdance, Chris was a founding member of the New York design firm R/GA Interactive. As Executive Producer he created over 150 games and interactive products for clients that include Disney, Sony, Microsoft, America Online, Warner Brothers, BBC, PBS, Children’s Television Workshop, Discovery Channel, and Activision among many others. Notable projects include:
Sony’s Multiplayer Jeopardy! and Multiplayer Wheel of Fortune
MSN’s NetWits - the first mass audience online gameshow
PBS’s Frank Lloyd Wright: Poetry of Structure - which is the convergence companion to the Ken Burns’ documentary.
His work has received numerous industry honors including best Family/Board Game from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, ID Magazine’s Interactive Design Review, Communication Arts Interactive Design Annual, multiple gold Invision awards, iMix Best of Show, The Digital Coast Innovation award, IBC’s Nombre D’Or, and Time Magazine’s Best of the Web.
E. DANIEL AREY
Dan Arey is currently Creative Director at game developer Ready at Dawn. He was previously the Creative Director of Naughty Dog studios, a division of Sony Computer Entertainment America. As a writer, director, and senior designer with over 19 years of experience, Dan has worked with publishers ranging from Electronic Arts, Accolade, Sega of America, Crystal Dynamics, and Sony.
An early proponent of interactive and convergent media, Dan led the earliest titles in this regard during his tenure as Design Manager for Crystal Dynamics. At Crystal, Dan designed games using film content and stronger narrative techniques as early as 1992 and has been an industry leader in story enhanced gaming for more than a decade.
Continuing his career at Naughty Dog, Dan has been involved in the design of the Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter series, two best selling franchises that have together sold more than 35 million units.
Dan has been involved in the design and IP development of the following best selling titles:
• Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune (PS3) - 2007
• Daxter (PSP) - 2006
• Jak X (PS2) – 2005
• Jak 3 PS2) - 2004
• Jak II (PS2) - 2003
• Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (PS2) - 2001
• Crash Team Racing (PS1) - 1999
• Crash 3: Warped (PS1) - 1998
• Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PS1) – 1997
• Gex: Enter the Gecko (PS1) - 1997
• Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain - 1996
• Gex 3DO - 1995
• Blazing Dragons (Dragon Tails license w/ Terry Jones of Monty Python) (PS1) - 1994
• Total Eclipse (3D0) – 1993
• Crash ‘n Burn (3D0) – 1993
Dan has been a contributor to Game Developer Magazine, Creativity Magazine. and a frequent lecturer at the Game Developers Conference, E3, DICE, SIGGRAPH, Writer’s Guild of America, and USC School of Cinematic Arts.
Vincent Diamante is a music composer, writer, and artist living in Los Angeles. He has provided audio for over a dozen video games spanning all platforms, from mobile handsets to next-generation consoles. Some of his projects include the indie games: Dyadin and Cloud; and research games Immune Attack and The Redistricting Game. He is currently composing for the not-yet-announced PS3 title from developer ThatGameCompany at Sony Santa Monica.
In addition Vincent is a veteran of video games journalism, having co-founded noted New Games Journalism representative Insertcredit.com. He regularly contributes to other media outlets as a freelance writer.
Vincent holds a BM in Electroacoustic Media from USC's Thornton School of Music and an MFA in Interactive Media from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.