Case Study: Game Lab Curriculum

Project: Developing student-oriented game design program for the Game Lab at Duke University and the Department of Learning Innovation.

Objectives: I conducted exploratory and evaluative research to,

  1. Understand the experience level and goals of students interested in game design and development.

  2. Understand the needs of interdisciplinary faculty seeking to implement game design in their courses.

  3. Evaluate the program's effectiveness in driving traffic to the newly opened Game Lab.


  1. I interviewed 5 key stakeholders about previous efforts to market the center and why they felt that student-led game design was important to the Lab's development.

  2. I reviewed programs, courses, and materials offered by other university game labs to determine established practices and how our lab could distinguish its work.

  3. I interviewed 3 students interested in game design about their learning goals and relationship with the Lab.

  4. Program participants were surveyed throughout program implementation to track increases in traffic to the Lab.

Key Insights:

  1. The Game Lab struggled to bring in traffic because it was not connected with a traditional academic department that could drive traffic. It also lacked a relationship with relevant programs, including CS, due to cultural stigma around gaming.

  2. Students were not receiving the support they sought to pursue gaming professions from their home departments.

  3. Faculty and students had significant experience with gaming as cultural analysts and players but little expertise in game design.


  1. I created a partnership with the Global Game Jame, an annual global game design hack-a-thon, that would allow students to build a network with other gamers both locally and globally while starting a body of work for a design portfolio.

  2. To prepare students for the GGJ, I developed a workshop series and curated game design resources for students. The curriculum and materials were designed to be easily replicable to that faculty could re-use them in their courses.


  1. 24 jammers participated in our GGJ site producing 5 games.  GGJ programming was also included in two courses, drawing an estimated 60 additional students to the lectures and workshops.

  2. 34 students, faculty, and staff attended our 3 design workshops.

  3. The GGJ and associated programming contributed an estimated 30% growth to the Lab's mailing list. We also received press coverage from two campus publications.

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