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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Principles of Game Design by Michigan State University

1,396 ratings
368 reviews

About the Course

You have a great idea for a game. Turning that idea into a reality isn't just about knowing the tools. In this course you will practice moving from game concept through design documentation, prototyping and testing. Numerous elements go into the overall process of game design. These range from topics such as idea generation, story, character, and game world development, game mechanics and level design, and user experience design. You will explore the process for designing meaningful experiences for your players. At the end of the course learners will have produced a game's high concept document, one page blueprint, a physical prototype, pitch and supporting design documentation to move from an idea in your head to a fleshed out design, ready for implementation....

Top reviews

Mar 26, 2016

Great course!\n\nThought I wouldn't use the stuff that I learned in the videos at first, but as I started working on my own projects, I realised it was very important knowledge for a game developer.

Apr 2, 2017

This course helps your game go from concept to reality. It pushed me to get a digital prototype made and ready to demo. Great depth of information related to game design and the gaming industry.

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326 - 350 of 355 Reviews for Principles of Game Design

By mahmoud o a s

Sep 28, 2019

no more practical assignment

By Lewis H

Nov 2, 2015

Quizzes need redone

By Lucas Y

Nov 21, 2020

a little boring

By Matheus G L

Jun 28, 2016

I will review this course appointing its pros and cons.


- The instructor: he is a captivating person. It really seems that he like game development, he make jokes and try to make the course interesting. So, he’s personality is makes the course less boring.


- The course name: when I saw “design” in the course name and the icon of course page, I thought it would be related to graphic design, or history telling and so on. But no, the “design” means “project”. So I think a better name would be “Principles of Game Project”. Although, it might be just me who thought this way, because in my language design means something totally different.

- The course content: this course should be at the end of the specialization. It is too much abstract and, in some aspects, very obvious. I will not say it is completely useless, because it is not. It gives us a structured view of the stages of game design and its documentation, but I think it would be better if it was like a case study.

- The assignments: probably the worst part of the course. They very very complex, to be sincere, none of the assignments I reviewed were full, I gave max grades to many because I think the person tried really hard to make it. Imagine this situation: you are not a programmer, not a graphic designer, not a writer and with a week you need to make a prototype of the game idea you’ve been working on course. This prototype must show the game mechanics and aesthetics, should be playable… And can be non digital? Come on, we are here learning the concepts of developments digital games and the instructor says that we can make a non digital prototype? Some people did it, and I can say for sure that I couldn’t imagine the real game. I made a digital prototype using the knowledge acquired from the first course, but as you can imagine, it is not enough to make our game ideas come true.

- The peer review system: the grading is completely non sense, as I said before, the assignments are complex, so it is difficult to show our ideas clearly in a document, without the abilities to make concept arts or something. In 2 of the 4 assignments 2 of the 3 people gave me max grades and 1 gave me bad grades, and did not left any feedback! One of the assignments when I first submitted it I got 12/20. Then, when I resubmitted it, without changing a comma, I got 20/20. So I think this system must change, maybe the mentor should do it.

If you want to do all the specialization, ok, go and do this course. But, if this is not your objective, do not waste your time.

By Alexey V F

Jun 24, 2020

I've got pretty controversial opinion about this course. Unlike the previous Unity course, this one does not require learner to use any software (except the optional use of them in the last assignment)

From this course I learned such important things that are the basics of the visual and aesthetic base in creating video games, about how the feelings and thoughts of the designer are transmitted to the player, how the game experience is created and how to draw up design documents for games, which is a very important point in the gaming industry

However, the course itself is organized poorly enough. Lectures contain a lot of irrelevant and unnecessary information that is not tested in any way and does not find its embodiment in the projects. The lecturer is often carried away by the narration of his thoughts and moves away from the topic.

Tests do not always contribute to active learning, many test questions do not have the correct answers and look like "give an example of such and such a game that you find such and such ...". Reading materials and additional videos are totally optional for study and are not subjects for testing, and only in a few cases I could find them useful for the projects.

Separately, it is worth mentioning about the projects that students will carry out on this course. There are four of them, and the most important and practically the most useful of them is the first one where it will be necessary to create the design document itself. The next two are the copies of it with some additions. The most controversial and obscure project is the fourth one, where students are not given clear ideas and ways to create a prototype of one of their mechanics of their fictional game. Therefore, as I noticed while evaluating other projects, many students do not understand what is required of them. Someone sent for evaluation just their projects from the previous course or simply attached design documents from the previous assignments.

By Gerard C

Dec 28, 2020

I feel I should be brutally honest about this course. It's bad. If it was not necessary to complete the specialization I'd have never finished it. In fact I was so unmotivated it took me a whole month to complete it. These are my reasons:

1) The lectures are lazy, all the teacher does is leave out open questions and finish every sentence with "...right?". There's barely (if any) any kind of visual support or examples of his claims. The videos contain nothing interesting, you barely learn anything from them and you will certainly fall asleep if you don't watch it at x2 speed.

2) Most resources for the course are outdated, there's articles from 10-15 years ago! You need an example of a real GDD? Find it yourself or deal with this awfully scanned GDD for Fallout 2 from 1998!

3) Even though I think the assignments are right for this course (High Concept, Bible Story, Game Design Document, Prototype) you can tell most students couldn't care less about the course and end up submitting incredibly poor and embarrassing assignments. I will admit I've given the minimum score to some people because they didn't make any effort at all. It's sad.

If you are really interested in Game Design I'd highly recommend you buy a book on the subject. I bought "The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses" by Jesse Schell (it's included in the bibliography of this course) and you'll learn more in the first 20 pages than in all this course; guaranteed.

I'm praying the next course is gonna be much better, but it's the same teacher so...

By Bernhard H

Jan 31, 2016

While I really liked the first course I have massive problems with this course. The first 2 assignments, a high concept document and a story bible were doable.

But a full GDD and a prototype on week 3 and 4? These aren't part-time tasks for a few days, these are full-time tasks for at least a full month each to do them properly from scratch. These assignments are so unrealistically hard that they demotivate. And I'm saying that as someone who already had quite some ideas for one game and even started experimental programming. For people that are taking this specialization without a focus on game design and/or without ideas... this course is going to be hell to finish in time.

By David A

Aug 20, 2017

While the content itself was very helpful, I feel that the grading itself is very broken. To start, a "passing grade" is 60%, which is failing by most other grading standards. Additionally, and even more so, to even pass you need to be rated "above and beyond" on a couple of criteria. I'm personally an over-achiever, so I try to do that anyway--but, it's really disheartening when I put myself into it, and get graded by my peers saying that I "went above and beyond" but not "epic". Seems very very subjective. The very fact that I can get a 100% from one reviewer and 40% from another seems to indicate that the scoring mechanism could use some work.

By David E

Mar 8, 2018

The course content itself is good but the marking scheme for submissions is silly. For example, one of the main marking points is 'The submitted file opens correctly', yet you can be marked either 1,3 or 5 for this. With 3 described as being 'You did it' and 5 being 'Wow, that's amazing'. It's opening a file, nothing more. Its not going be be amazing. It should be '0 - Doesn't open' or '5 - Successfully opens'. This 1,3,5 marking with these labels is throughout

By Pedro M G

Jun 6, 2016

It appears the teacher doesn't take the necessary steps to polish content and tests, everything feels unstructured and ad-lib. Course videos don't seem to follow any kind of logic or purpose and tests are based on highly subjective content, but are not prepared to deal with the subjectivity of reviewers (i.e. forcing them to provide feedback instead of giving points arbitrarily).

By Adam K

Aug 11, 2020

Some of the information is good and informative, but this class feels abandoned a long time ago. There are complaints of the rubric for some assignments rightfully pointing out that the aspect being graded is never described from 4+ years ago. Neither the rubric nor the material has changed since those posts.

By Tomer S

Dec 7, 2020

big decline in quality of content, assignments and overall tone from the previous (and great course). the instructor doesn't seem well prepared and the knowledge that is being attempted to be transferred is unfocused, general, and mostly useless/obvious.

By Moisés P

Feb 13, 2016

The information is good but is going too fast and I don't feel I have learned much from it. I'm on week 3 and I'm still not sure of how to make my assignments in a proper way. The quizzes are very confusing too and sometimes I felt frustrated.

By mandar s

Aug 8, 2016

why intro is so long?

it becomes boring without any physical interpretation of knowledge

can't you take at least one design project or demo

many things were said but very little went in head

By Anastasia R

Feb 8, 2018

It's so boring and so far away from realities of contemporary game development so I lost all the will to see these courses at all, for several months.

By Ahmed A

Feb 28, 2017

not good

By Robert W

May 1, 2016

After the excellent first course in the specialisation, this was quite a disappointment.

I realise that the subject matter in this course will inevitably involve abstract concepts and subjective opinions, but I didn't really 'get' the way that Casey was presenting the subject given that there were quizzes and assignments to follow.

That's not to say that the videos aren't interesting. But, given their rambling style, they would be much more useful as reference material rather than driving the course, in my opinion.

Many of the questions in the quizzes felt like they'd been added simply to make them up to the correct number. Some were so loose that you could write any answer and I'm sure you'd get a mark!

Also, I'd say not to even start this course unless you have a clear idea for a game. The assignments require you to produce design documents that are tedious, going on impossible, to write without some firm rooted idea to start from.

Maybe if you really want to be a game designer then this will be the course for you. If you are doing the course out of curiosity, for fun, or to learn how to control Unity, I'd give it a miss.

By Jason M

Dec 2, 2015

I didn't like the class despite getting 100% on pretty much every assignment. I learned very little from the class. I don't think 99% of what was in the class was useful to me at all. The grading for the class had ludonarrative dissonance with the quizzes. The projects were graded by peers, but the rubric was nonsensical. 1-5 scale for submitting a PDF, for example. So, someone might give you a 1 for submitting the PDF and thus you wouldn't get a full-score. It was just idiotic.

By Ricardo S A

Dec 2, 2015

One of the worst courses that I have taken in coursera.

The videos feel unstructured without preparation and boring.

The quizes are subjective. You can pass all of then without watching a single video or lecture.

The assignments are interesting but the way of grading them are bad designed and subjective.

Sad, I passed this course without trouble but made me stop wanting to get the full specialization.

Spartans! Review the course or better close it. Its a shame.

By Mohab R

Jan 19, 2016

Not very informative content, some parts are interesting but not worth the money.

The worst thing is, all assignments are writting work that are evaluated by colleagues, meaning, it is purely objective, to the extent that one question asks if my uploaded file is in a readable format, example pdf, txt...etc and two out of three marking my pdf file as not!!! and not even leaving a comment why they are giving that bad score on obvious things!

By Dmitry K

Sep 23, 2017

Poor organized. Evaluation system based on peer reviews, when you share your ideas and concepts without any protection. Evaluation criteria are very subjective. Very disappointing. I have unsubscribed from whole specialization because of that course

By Eyal B

Mar 19, 2017

Hard to follow, ideas are not organized and are not well presented. Lecturer has many pauses, that even on increased playback speed (x1.25), are still distracting. Do not recommend!

By Kostiantyn W

Sep 25, 2016

That person should not teach. Nobody. The person is not able to construct a sentence without denial and course has really little information, but lots of empty talking.

By Kashan A

Jun 16, 2020

This course is entirely based on the documentation which is very wired. Because in my opinion, this course should be based on graphics visual as well.