Carnegie Mellon University School of Art
Fall 2023
Course number: 60419
Location: CFA 303
Days / time: TBD
Professor: Paolo Pedercini – paolop [at] andrew [dot] cmu [dot] edu
Office: School of art 419A – 4th Floor
Office hours: By appointment

Description: Let’s face it: there are too many videogames in this world. Luckily, game engines and game design principles can be used for a variety of purposes! This installment of Experimental Game Studio focuses on artful software, interactables, nongames, digital toys, procedural generators, educational applications, and other playthings. The course is divided in two parts: in the first half of the semester students will be asked to create three prototypes starting from an open-ended prompt. In the second half, the most promising prototypes will be iterated, playtested, and polished into complete projects. Students will work in teams. Some programming experience is recommended.


Upon completion of the course you will be able to:

  • Work in teams
  • Scope a project according to limited time and resources
  • Use game engines and tools for non entertainment purposes
  • Identify promising concepts and accept failures and dead ends
  • Contextualize your own work within contemporary cultural practices
  •  Develop your personal style and artistic identity 
  • Research subjects and translate them into playable systems
  • Add at least one piece to your creative portfolio


Procedural Generator

Make an application that randomly or procedurally generates variations of a thing.
Examples: a landscape, a character, a level, a mesh, a story, etc…

Playful Software 

Software doesn’t have to be boring or utilitarian. Make a plaything that blurs the boundary between software and videogame. Something that allows for expressive play or assists a digitally-enhanced performance.
Examples: a VJ application, an image creation tool, a virtual puppet, a improvisational storytelling system…  

Explorable Explanation

Research a complex subject and create an interactive artifact that explains it in a compelling way.
Examples: an educational application, a political videogame, an interactive journalistic feature…

Final Project

Iterate on the most promising prototypes and polish it for release.


-A laptop. You don’t need a powerful gaming computer but consider we won’t be working in a computer lab.
-The charger is not optional.
-A 3 button mouse. You can’t work in 3D without it.
-Software: all the programs used in this class are free or provided by the school. You may have to purchase some individual licenses and subscriptions to certain games or plugins depending on your project. The overall expenses should not exceed $100.


Qualitative feedback during in-class critiques is the most important form of evaluation, but we live in a quantified society so grades need to happen.
You will be evaluated differently in the two part of the class.

Fast prototyping phase

A – The prototype has all the core functionalities, an aesthetic direction, and attempts to do something innovative
B – The prototype has all the core functionalities, and an aesthetic direction
C – The prototype doesn’t have all the core functionalities, and/or an aesthetic direction.  It is not possible to evaluate its potential.
D – no delivery
F – no show

Final project phase

A. Outstanding concept and implementation. It looks and feels like a complete project, not an assignment or prototype.
B. The project is original and complete, all the core components are functional, but it feel unpolished and not ready to “ship”.
C. The game is incomplete and/or the idea is derivative.
D. The game doesn’t work, it has major bugs or is incomplete to a point that is impossible to get a clear idea of the user experience.
E. The student failed to deliver the assignment.

Final grade composition
60% Prototypes – 15% each
30% Final project
10% Class Participation


-A laptop. You don’t need a powerful gaming computer but consider we won’t be working in a computer lab.
-The charger is not optional.
-A 3 button mouse. You can’t work in 3D without it.
Software: all the programs used in this class are free or provided by the school. You may have to purchase some individual licenses and subscriptions to certain games or plugins depending on your project. The overall expenses should not exceed $100.


I’ll ask you to read and sign a little contract. We will discuss it and amend it on the first day of class.

* Absences:
My well being come first, if I am sick I should stay at home. I will inform the professor of my absences via email.
I am responsible to catch up with the class, and to look into the material that I have missed.
I expect most of the class material to be on this website, and understand that many class activities can’t be experienced asynchronously or online.
I am aware that repeated absences may trigger additional scrutiny from the school administration.

* Participation:
I will engage actively in discussions and critiques.
I expect the professor to adopt a variety of critique formats to account for different personality types.

* Net addiction
I value face-to-face interaction, so I commit to not use phones and computers during lectures, critiques, and discussions, ie. any time somebody is speaking to the class.

* Computer habits
I understand that using my personal laptop will require more responsibilities on my side:
-I will disable all push notifications from social media unrelated to class
-I will reboot my system before class and close all the applications
-I will bring and use a mouse when it’s required
-I will bring and use my charger all the time
-I will make sure I have enough room in my hard drive
-I will make sure I have all the required applications installed
-If unable to meet these basic requirement I will use the lab computers

I will use the class Discord to keep up with asynchronous communications, announcements, and questions that could be of general interest.
To keep a proper record, I will use the CMU email for personal communication with the professor.

I will negotiate late assignment submissions with the professor at least 24 hours before the deadline. I understand it will have to be justified and will not be automatically granted.
I will be present and participate to critiques even if I don’t have my work.

I will be in class before the official beginning of the session.
I understand that late arrivals may affect my grade: arriving over 10 minutes late more than 3 times = 10% grade reduction.

*Office hours
I am entitled to a one-to-one meeting with the professor for feedback and general check-in every semester.

*Plagiarism and “collaborations”
I acknowledge that the concept of plagiarism is somewhat elusive in digital media as we working with open source tools and libraries, remixing and building upon the work of a multitude of people.
However I will not outsource the class work to other people nor plagiarize assignments and exercises from my classmates.

*Community agreements
These statement apply to both student and instructors:
We will speak from our own experiences (make ‘I’ statements).
We will respect differences; we’re all privileged in some ways.
We agree to critique ideas, not people.
We will not assume the identity of others, nor ask individuals to speak for their perceived social group.
We will hold this as a brave space, where we take risks, be vulnerable and hold each accountable with love and respect.
We agree to have only ‘one mic’: we will listen respectfully without interrupting.
We agree to practice active listening: when someone is speaking, we will listen without also thinking about how we are going to respond/rebut.
We may share what we learn but will keep others’ stories and personal experiences in confidence.
We will ‘move up, move up’: those who tend to speak a lot will ‘move up’ their listening; those who tend
to hold back and listen will ‘move up’ their speaking.


It is my intent that students from all diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well served by this course, and that the diversity that students bring to this class be viewed as a resource, strength and benefit. It is my intent to present activities that accommodate and value a diversity of gender, sexuality, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, and culture.
I will gladly honor your request to address you by your preferred name and gender pronoun. I commit to make individual arrangements to address disabilities or religious needs (e.g. religious events in conflict with class meetings). Please advise me of these preferences and needs early in the semester so that I may make appropriate changes to my plans and records.
Debate and free exchange of ideas is encouraged but I will not tolerate harassment, i.e. a pattern of behavior directed against a particular individual with the intent of humiliating or intimidating.


Being in an art school, you should expect to be exposed to content that challenges your moral, ethical, and aesthetic values. In case of extremely graphic content I will warn the class in advance, but if you have a history of PTSD please let me know privately if there are types of content that are known to act as trauma triggers for you.


Collaborative work and projects also fulfilling other classes’ requirements are encouraged as long as it makes sense, and the other professors agree.

Official university language: Take care of yourself. Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle this semester by eating well, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting enough sleep and taking some time to relax. This will help you achieve your goals and cope with stress.

All of us benefit from support during times of struggle. You are not alone. There are many helpful resources available on campus and an important part of the college experience is learning how to ask for help. Asking for support sooner rather than later is often helpful.

If you or anyone you know experiences any academic stress, difficult life events, or feelings like anxiety or depression, we strongly encourage you to seek support. Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS) is here to help: call 412-268-2922 and visit their website at Consider reaching out to a friend, faculty or family member you trust for help getting connected to the support that can help.