Brief Introduction to Game Design

The truth about what game design is, what you need to be good at it, and how to start out. No dreams, just facts.

This is a brief introduction to game design by Dr. Lewis Pulsipher (see Wikipedia), designer of several published games (e.g. Britannia), retired teacher (computer networking, later game design and game production), and author of the 2012 book "Game Design: How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish" (McFarland).

A much longer and more comprehensive course ("Learning Game Design") is also available.

The general goal is to realistically understand the nature of game design

  • Understand what game design is and isn't
  • Know the best ways to learn how to design games
  • Recognize that there's nothing magical about game design
  • Understand why you won't get rich in game design
  • Understand that being an expert game player has nothing to do with game design

Intended audience: aspiring game designers, whether video or tabletop

Course requirements: basic familiarity with games

Comment from LinkedIn:

"Fantastic course, Dr. Pulsipher. I'm in school for Game Dev (which, of course, does involve programming), and while my last instructor is a veteran in the field, the textbook didn't emphasize the required aptitude for Game Design. This one nails it without sugarcoating it." By Michael Thompson

LinkedIn comment (may not work if you're not a member)

A recent reviewer at Udemy (Santiago Eximeno) gave the course 3 stars, so I asked him what I could do to improve it. He said:

"Your course is fabulous. I have given it 3 stars because it's a first step. I really enjoy contents but, as its name says, it's an introduction to game design and I think that a wannabe game designer must continue studying and working on it.

So I don't think that you must improve this course, it's just that for me is a first step and for that I have given it a 3 stars rate.

I'm sure that "Learning Game Design: as a job or a hobby" (I have starting it now) will be great . . ."

And it's certainly true that this course is only a start.

This course has run on for 3,500 people, but it costs 50% more there.

Excerpts from other reviews for my Brief Intro to Game Design at Udemy:

"Very Informative and useful. Thank you a lot!" Víctor Jesús Arroyo Reyes

"A very good intro course

No frills reality check on what to expect."

Scott Mayton

Good Course

The lecturer is very knowledgeable and has a lot of experience so knows exactly what he is talking about. He also tells it how it is and doesn't give any 'false hope' that the game industry is a get rich quick scheme or an always fun environment.

Shane Robinson




"As a novice video game maker of three years now, I have seen many people online talk about an "awesome" idea but never begin to make it.

Dr. Pulsipher discusses some of the common pitfalls when designing a game, the steps it takes to actually make a playable game, and some of the less-than-glamorous realities of the game industry.

I will definitely use what I have learned when designing my next game and I highly recommend it."

Louvie Tuckerg

Brief Free Intro to Game Design, comment to an Answer:

"Thank you very much for the fast and detailed answer, I really appreciate that you take your time to discuss these subjects with an aspiring junior, like me."

János Glöckl?

private message:

"I have but finished watching both your courses here on Udemy, and i praise you for your straightforward and realistic approach on the subject of game design and the games industry."

Marcelo Melo

There are no discounts for this class, or any others on this site. I am actually more likely to raise prices than to offer discounts, because discounts can be disrespectful to people who pay the full price. These classes are already much lower priced than the same classes on Udemy.

Your Instructor

Dr. Lewis Pulsipher
Dr. Lewis Pulsipher

Dr. Lewis Pulsipher (Wikipedia: "Lewis Pulsipher"; "Britannia (board game)"; "Archomental" ) is the designer of half a dozen commercially published boardgames. His game "Britannia" is described in an Armchair General review "as one of the great titles in the world of games." Britannia was also one of the 100 games highlighted in the book "Hobby Games: the 100 Best". He has over 17,000 classroom hours of teaching experience including teaching video game design and production, and over 20 years of part-time graduate teaching experience.

His book "Game Design: How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish" (McFarland) focuses on practical advice for beginning game designers, about how you actually create and complete game designs. Three more books about game design are in progress. He also contributed to the books "Tabletop: Analog Game Design," "Hobby Games: the 100 Best," "Family Games: the 100 Best." His game design blog has been active since 2004, and he is a contributor and "expert blogger" on, the #1 site for professional video game developers.

His latest published game is the 2011 reissue with additions of "Dragon Rage," originally published in 1982. Three new versions of Britannia, including a 90-120 minute version and a diceless version, are forthcoming

Lew has a Ph.D. in military and diplomatic history from Duke University, from ancient days when degrees in media, computer networking, or game design did not exist--nor did IBM PCs. In 2012 he was a speaker at the East Coast Game Conference, PrezCon, Origins Game Fair, and World Boardgaming Championships. Long ago he was contributing editor for White Dwarf and Dragon magazines, and publisher of various game fanzines.

Game design blog: and
Teach game design blog:
"Expert blogger", Gamasutra:
former contributing editor, White Dwarf, Dragon, Space Gamer, etc.
former publisher, Supernova, Blood and Iron, Sweep of History, etc.

"Always do right--this will gratify some and astonish the rest." --Mark Twain

Course Curriculum

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the class start and finish?
The class starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online class - you decide when you start and when you finish.
How long do I have access to the class?
How does lifetime access sound? After purchase, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the class?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.

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