Course Syllabus

EAE 6015-001 - Paper Prototyping


Instructor: Matt Anderson, MFA

University of Utah

Spring 2018, T / 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM BLDG 73 242


Office Hours: By appointment only

College of Engineering Guidelines: COE Guidelines



Course Description

The paper prototyping course provides an academic, rigorous, design-oriented experience focused on developing and evaluating game mechanics using analog materials. Drawing from videogame and tabletop game traditions, students will learn to "find the fun" in resource systems, spatial layouts, social dynamics, user interfaces, and more using low cost components and rapid iteration.


Course Objectives

Through readings, lectures, discussion and laboratory work, at the end of the course students will have a well founded, broad understanding of paper prototyping video games as well as a strong understanding of how fun and game mechanics can be expressed through physical media.


Required Texts

Tabletop Analog Game Design, Greg Costikyan and Drew Davidson

Characteristics of Games, George Skaff Elias, Richard Garfield, and K. Robert Gutschera 

Game Design Workshop Chapter 7: Prototyping, Trace Fullerton

Additional articles assigned by the instructor. 

A game design tool kit. I recommend you reserve between $50 and $100 for this kit.


Teaching and Learning Methods

Students are expected to fully participate in the class. Attendance at lectures, participation in discussion, as well as completion of all assignments is expected and required for satisfactory completion of the course. I also reserve the right  to use a plagiarism detection service in this course, in which case you will be required to submit your paper to such a service as part of your assignment.



Due to the strict enrollment limit registered students must attend class at least one of the first two days of class in order to retain their spot. Students who miss those days forfeit their positions and must drop the class or risk earning a failing grade for the class.

Students who participate in officially sanctioned University activities (e.g., marching band, debate, athletics) will be permitted to turn work in early and/or make up assignments without penalty. Official absences must be documented at least one week prior to the absence.


ADA Statement
The University of Utah seeks to provide equal access to its programs, services and activities for people with disabilities. If you will need accommodations in the class, reasonable prior notice needs to be given to the Center for Disability Services, 162 Olpin Union Building, 581-5020 (V/TDD). CDS will work with you and the instructor to make arrangements for accommodations. All information in this course can be made available in alternative format with prior notification to the Center for Disability Services.


Wellness Statement
Personal concerns such as stress, anxiety, relationship difficulties, depression, cross-cultural differences, etc., can interfere with a student’s ability to succeed and thrive at the University of Utah. For helpful resources contact the Center for Student Wellness;; 801-581-7776.


University of Utah Student Code
The Student Code is spelled out in the Student Handbook. Students have specific rights in the classroom as detailed in Article III of the code. The code also specifies proscribed conduct (Article XI) that involves cheating, tests, plagiarism, and/or collusion, as well as fraud, theft, etc. Students should read the Code carefully to become aware of these issues. Students will receive sanctions for violating one or more of these proscriptions.

The faculty will enforce the code. Students have the right to appeal such action to the Student Behavior Committee.


I do not offer content accommodations. If you find any of the course material offensive, you may opt not to participate acknowledging that you will not receive points for that section of the course.


Game Project

For this project you will design a non-digital game. The game should be playable inside the classroom and not take more than 60 minutes. Ideally, people should be able to play your game while sitting down at a table, and you will use your game design tool kits to assemble the game. You may design your own components or use “non-traditional” elements with approval.

This project will have six deliverables.  We will also be playtesting each other’s games in class. The main phases/deliverables are:


1.       High-level Game Concept

2.       Rules Draft #1

3.       Playtest Report

4.       Hand-Off Evaluation

5.       Rules Draft #2

6.       Final Rules and Components



Work produced in this class is copyrighted by the student. Continued attendance to this course constitutes permission for your work to be used by the professor as examples in courses, public lectures, academic publications, and other not-for-profit, fair-use practices.



* Class Participation and Attendance: 15%
* Class Activities: 15%
* Homework and Project Deliverables: 40%
* Final Game Project: 30%


Grade Scale

* The A range is for excellent performance and superior achievement.
* The B range denotes good performance and substantial achievement.
* The C range indicates standard or average performance and achievement.
* The D range is for substandard performance and marginal achievement.
* An E is given for unsatisfactory performance and achievement.

I grade on a standard system: A=94-100; A-=90-93, B+=87-89, etc.

Late work will be accepted with permission only. There is a 10% reduction to the grade every 24hrs after the original due date/time.


Course Schedule and Content: 

**Note: The syllabus is not a binding legal contract and will likely change with appropriate notice. You are responsible to get those changes from this syllabus, your peers, or via class announcements. 


Course Calendar


Week 1: Jan. 9

  • Syllabus and Overview

  • Practicality and Procedures

  • Writing Rules


Week 2: Jan. 16

  • Probabilities Part One

  • Risk and Distribution
    1. Costikyan, Boardgame Aesthetics p. 179
    2. Fullerton, Chapter 7: Prototyping p. 175


Week 3: Jan. 23

  • Probabilities Part Two

  • Hidden Information


Week 4: Jan. 30

  • Player Interaction Part One

  • More than Two Players
  • Kingmaking


Week 5: Feb. 6

  • Player Interaction Part Two

  • Trading and Bartering

  • Cooperation


Week 6: Feb. 13

  • Player Interaction Part Three

  • Deception and Bluffing


Week 7: Feb. 20

  • Conducting Playtests

  • Processing Feedback


Week 8: Feb. 27

  • Constructing Puzzles


Week 9: Mar. 6

  • Game Economies
  • Resource Engines


Week 10: Mar. 13



Week 11: Mar. 21

  • Balancing Part One

  • Solving Optimal Strategy


Week 12: Mar. 27

  • Balancing Part Two

  • Snowballing and Catch-Up


Week 13: Apr. 3

  • Superstructure


Week 14: Apr. 10

  • Level Design Prototyping


Week 15: Apr. 17

  • User Interface Testing


Week 16: Apr. 24

  • Fine Tuning
  • Component Feel
  • Packaging and Manufacturing


Week 16: May 1



Course Summary:

Date Details Due