Semester(s) Offered: Spring
Credits: 4
Course Call Number: GAMES-UT 243
Taught By: Mitu Khandaker

The technology of games has evolved to very effectively simulate physics, and photorealistic representations – however, simulations of people and their interactions remain under-explored, particularly in mainstream practice. Seminal game designer Chris Crawford infamously dubbed these as ‘people games’. The pursuit of games which address this requires not only technological understanding of the problem space, but also a critical and humanistic one. This is a mixed game development and critical play focused course, looking mainly at games which feature simulated autonomous characters (or “agents”). Students will examine existing games spanning the last thirty years, and, use this to inform their own practical projects. This will further students’ practice with game development tools such as Unity and C#, and begin to introduce AI techniques.

Students will examine and create two main types “people games” over the course of the semester:
1) Many ‘shallow’ characters (agents) which tell the story of a social world through juxtaposition.
2) Fewer ‘deeper’ characters which tell the story of a social world through exposition, such as conversational games.

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:
1) Understand and discuss social simulation games from a theoretical perspective.
2) Assess and discuss character AI concepts and their use in various contexts.
3) Understand and implement character-oriented game AI practices (such as behavior trees).
4) Continue developing their Unity/C# skills.
5) Develop critical making skills by reflecting upon social simulation work that they have
created.

This class has Introduction to Game Development and Intro to Game Design as a pre-requisite.