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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 computers with Intel or AMD CPUs sold after 2016 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 level of experience.

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


You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudymap will automatically be displayed in MyTimetable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Pleas note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

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.


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudymap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.
Extensive FAQ on MyStudymap can be found here.


Contact the lecturer(s) for course specific questions and the programme's coordinator Education coordinator LIACS bachelors for questions regarding course admission or registration.


Not applicable.