Designing Games for the Common Good

Fall 2021
Winter 2022
Sophomore - Senior
Class Size: 25
8 Credits per quarter
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Taught by

Ideally, all sessions of this program will be held in person.

We will meet remotely or in hybrid mode if necessary, following guidelines from the college.  Please email faculty with questions.

The study and hands-on making of games provides opportunity to learn and apply skills related to many types of creative undertaking: research, problem-solving, design thinking, collaboration, and project planning and documentation. Our content focus as we acquire and polish these skills will be two-fold: design and board game design concepts and process, and the common good.  

Design and design thinking center on the transformation of ideas into purposeful plans, objects, and actions; we will practice design process applicable in a wide variety of settings and as a strategic approach to a range of problem types. “Common good” refers to those values and commitments that enable communities of diverse people to organize themselves with shared interests and benefits in mind. This aspect of our work will allow us to inquire into the ways that game design and design in general can support critical engagement with cultural dynamics, and in particular with those social systems related to equity, community, and democracy. 

Willingness to exhibit an open inquiry stance toward questions of the common good; to learn technical and sequential design practices; and to think about, write about, play, and create physical tabletop board and card games are prerequisites for both quarters of this program. Readiness to make knowledge collaboratively, to listen and learn across significant lived differences of thought and experience, and to engage thoughtfully with systems of social identity also will be vital to the success of our work. 

Study of foundational elements of board game design during fall quarter will help us explore how games educate, advocate, promote empathy, and provoke both thinking and change. We'll begin our inquiry into the common good, with consideration of historic and contemporary games that engage values, social change, and social identity representations. Arts journalism critique and review, focused on analysis of specific games and associated gameplay experience, will be one of our writing practices. Fall quarter studio sessions will focus on prototyping, modifying, redesigning, and play of published board and card games, and perhaps of a game or two of our own design.  

In winter quarter, program members will consider game design as the design of dynamic systems, and as design of player experience. Each participant will identify and research their choice of an aspect of the common good as a lead-in to creating relevant board games. Winter studio sessions will provide opportunity for collaborative design, critique and playtesting, and for project support. Parameters for the end-of-program project include creation of game documentation and a fully-operational physical board game prototype accessible to the intended audience, for a game designed to support player consideration of the common good. Please note that a faculty signature will be required for winter quarter registration. 

We plan to work in person as possible, during both quarters. Program learning activities (online or in person) will take in seminar discussions, gameplay and debriefings, interactive lectures, and collaborative and solo design tasks. Participants will work in and out of class sessions to research, play, and analyze card and board games; to respond to readings; and to write game reviews, technical design documents, and reflection essays.  

Credit equivalencies for fall quarter include: game studies, introductory board game design, board game reviewing, and community studies. In winter, credit will be awarded in design practice or design studio, intermediate board game design, game studies or community studies, and technical writing. 



Prerequisites for registration for students new to the program in winter include interest in and general introductory knowledge of modern board games (also called “eurogames” and “strategy board games”), and familiarity with basic board game design terms such as “mechanisms” and “turn order.”  

Fall 2021 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (8): 10202
Winter 2022 Registration

Signature Required

Students must have a background comparable to fall quarter learning. See the prerequisites in the description and contact the faculty for more information. 

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (8): 20166

Academic details

Preparatory for studies and careers in

education, public service, nonprofit sector, product development, technical writing, interactive design, game design 

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$50 required media fee in winter

Special Expenses

Winter: Students will be expected to provide prototyping supplies costing roughly $25-$35; email faculty for a list of suggested items. 


In Person or Remote
In Person (F)
In Person (W)
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

SEM 2 E4107 - Art Studio


Date Revision
2021-12-07 $50 required media fee added for winter