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Introduction to Video Game Making


Admission requirements

Not applicable.


Once upon a time, developing computer games required in-depth knowledge of computer hardware — how it works, and how to program for it. While this is still the case for commercial game development, there are now more resources than ever that support newcomers in creating a game project.

In this course you will learn the basic principles of game development and how to deconstruct a game idea into the many challenges that need to be solved to create it. Apart of creating games, this course will give you a better understanding of the ways in which the technological aspects of the medium shape their rhetorical, visual, and narrative dimensions. This will help you to become a well-informed game critic and give you the ability to express your ideas through the medium of video games.

To enjoy this course you should be enthusiastic about creating games and interested in analysing games that you might not usually choose to play. Game development is typically a team effort — as such you should expect to work together with other students on a shared project.

Computer Requirements:
A personal computer or laptop is required to follow this course. MacOS or Windows operating systems are preferred, but all class material is compatible with Linux. Note that Linux users need to have a deep understanding of the Linux platform to troubleshoot any issues they might face. A performant computer is recommended, however most Intel or AMD CPUs sold after 2015 should be sufficient. A dedicated GPU can be beneficial but is not required. If in doubt, please contact the lecturer before the beginning of the course.

For students without programming experience:
This course does not cover the basics of programming. While following the course without prior programming experience is very doable, it will require you to be pro-active in learning from tutorials and your peers. Keep this in mind before joining, but do not be afraid to try — some of the best projects in the past came from students that had never programmed before!

For students with prior game development experience:
If you have created a game with Unity, Unreal, or any other 2D / 3D game engine before, this course might be too basic for your needs. If you have created your own game engine in the past, it will definitely be too basic.

Course objectives

  • Understand the basic principles of game development

  • Understand the difference between game development, game design, and many of the individual tasks that go into making a video game

  • Deconstruct the intended functionality of a video game into smaller tasks

  • Creatively solve tasks and make informed decisions in choosing solutions when creating video games

  • Create working video games that are ready to be shared with the world


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, self study, discussions, and team work.

Assessment method

  • Exam (20%)

  • Individual Project (30%)

  • Group Project (50%)

The retake for this course is completing development work on a partially completed project (either your own, or that of another student). For individual components of the grade there are no retake options; with one exception: you can request a exam retake even if you have passed the course (i.e. to improve the grade) by submitting a request to the lecturers and the Board of Examiners. Students may request this for a single occasion over the course of their bachelor/master's programme.

Reading list

  • The Art of Game Design (Jesse Schell)

We recommend acquiring a 2nd hand copy of the book, or lending it. The book provides a useful starting point for most of the topics in the course; but it is unfortunately also more expansive than it should be, relative to its overall value within the course.

Throughout the course students will also receive articles or papers to read and games to play. All essential material (apart of the book above) is freely available through Brightspace. Additional, non-essential material might be recommended from time to time.


  • You have to enrol for classes and exams in uSis. This requires using the uSis code of the course, which can be found in the [Prospectus] (

  • For more information about enrolment in courses and exams, visit the information pages of the Faculty of Science at Leiden University.


In 'MyTimetable' you can compose your personal schedule. Educational activities for which you are registered in uSis are automatically shown in your timetable. In addition, you can link My Timetable to a calendar app on your phone and schedule changes are automatically implemented in your calendar; moreover, if desired, you will receive a notification of the change by e-mail.

Questions? Read the instruction or contact the ISSC helpdesk.


Inschrijving voor vakken verloopt via uSis. Wanneer je je hier inschrijft voor een bepaald vak krijg je automatisch ook toegang tot de omgeving van dit vak via Brightspace.

Voor meer informatie over Brightspace kun je op deze link klikken om de handleidingen van de universiteit te bekijken. Bij overige vragen of problemen kan contact opgenomen worden met de helpdesk van de universiteit Leiden.

Contact information

Contact the lecturer(s) for course specific questions and the programme's coordinator Riet Derogee for questions regarding uSis, course admission or registration.