Game Design Practicum

Simulation for Games

This class explores the vast representational power of the computer. Computers can be used to for so much more than simulating projectiles and manufactured landscapes—they are unlike any other medium in their ability to make playable complex systems about everything from ant colonies to cities, traffic jams, budgets, and geopolitics.

We will cover a spectrum of simulation approaches, from stock/flow systems to cellular automata, networks, physics, and agents. Lectures will introduce prototyping, visual design communication, and then go deep into the simulation topics by looking in detail at particular computer games, their design history, and source code (where possible), with a particular emphasis on SimCity. Readings and game playing will be assigned as appropriate.

This is a studio based course. Students will be expected to produce a working prototype for each topic covered in class in addition to a final project. The final project is an interactive simulation for Wikipedia, where students will pick and research a topic, develop a simulation, and contribute it to Wikipedia. You need to be able to program to take this class, and should feel comfortable teaching yourself JavaScript (if you don’t already know it) as we go. 

Students will be expected to keep up with assigned readings, participate in class discussions and activities, produce prototypes, a final project, and have lots of fun stretching their brains and building cool new toys! This course should be a great precursor to 170, as you will expand your game design/coding vocabulary with simulation techniques, learn how to prototype efficiently, and visually articulate interactive design ideas.

If you have any questions please email Chaim Gingold at You can learn more about Chaim Gingold’s work and background at

Class meets 2-3:45, Tuesday & Thursday.

Instructors and Assistants

Class Web Page