Coursera’s Game Design and Development (Part 2)

Note: This is a follow up to my previous post on Coursera’s Game Design and Development Specialization. If you’d like to read the first part, check it out here.

Third Course Impressions: Business of Games and Entrepreneurship

The third course in the Game Design and Development specialization, taught by Professor Casey O’Donnell (from Michigan State University), was particularly informative.

As with previous Coursera courses in this series, the course was spread out over four weeks. Each week focused on introducing specific sub-topics related to business and entrepreneurship. Professor O’Donnell addressed serious topics in an informative and concise manner. The course structure and flow are better than they were in the second course of the specialization (also taught by O’Donnell).

Topics covered include:

  • Various funding models used in the game industry historically and today;
  • A basic introduction to legal issues common in the game industry:
    • Intellectual property
    • Copyright
    • Patents and trade secrets
  • Teamwork and working with people;
  • Project management tools and techniques (with a brief introduction to the SCRUM methodology);
  • The qualities, styles, tasks and foundations of leadership;
  • Pitching yourself, your game idea, and demo your game;
  • Launching a business and choosing the right business partners;
  • Working for hire, communicating and interacting with clients.

Over the course’s four weeks, the assignments were:

  • A SWOT analysis of an existing game franchise to evaluate its Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (using a provided template document);
  • A production plan document to schedule, budget and determine the key personnel necessary for creating a game of your own design (using a provided template document);
  • A video to present your game idea to other students enrolled in the course (or alternatively a video pitching yourself and your skill set);
  • A competitive analysis document that situates your game versus its competition and the overall market for similar titles.

For the video assignment, I used Movavi Video Suite 15 to record my pitch. I also added snippets of gameplay taken from other game titles to help illustrate my game idea. Surprisingly, the Movavi software was simple and efficient to use, but I ended up purchasing a license to remove the software’s watermark from my video.

Cyborg Games Studio: Opening to my game idea pitch
Opening to my game idea pitch…

Throughout the course, links to external resources and videos were provided to get more in-depth information on some of the topics mentioned above. For instance, there are numerous interesting blog posts published on the Gamasutra website that are worth reading through. Another interesting document shared in the course was VALVE’s handbook for new employees.

Professor O’Connell also recommended the book “The Art of the Start 2.0” by Guy Kawasaki. Additionally, Guy Kawasaki has a number of lectures on YouTube. Also recommended, “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries – although I have yet to obtain it.

The course’s additional reading has led me to seek out more reading material. A good resource I’ve found for recommendations on entrepreneurship books and websites was Y Combinator’s Startup Library. I’ve since been reading “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.

"The Art of the Start 2.0" by Guy Kawasaki recommended in the Game Design and Development specialization "How to Win Friends & Influence People" by Dale Carnegie recommended in Y Combinator Startup Library "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries recommended in the Game Design and Development specialization

To be continued…

That’s it for part 2 of 4! Overall, I’d recommend the Business of Games and Entrepreneurship course. It conveys useful and clear information, and the assignments are insightful. There is one more course in the specialization and a capstone project to complete it, so stay tuned for more blog posts!

In the mean time, I am also getting started on Udemy‘s Unreal Engine 4 course and will probably make a post on that once I get the chance.