July 20–24, 2015
Portland, OR

How Do I Game Design? Design games, understand people!

Paris Buttfield-Addison (Secret Lab), Jon Manning (Secret Lab), Tim Nugent (lonely.coffee)
1:40pm–2:20pm Thursday, 07/23/2015
Design D139/140
Average rating: ****.
(4.91, 11 ratings)
Slides:   external link

In this session, you’ll learn about game design: the art and science of constructing enjoyable, engaging games. We aren’t doing any coding, and we’re not talking game engine development – instead, we’ll be taking a deep dive into game design theory, using it to understand how people interact with rules, and how to use it to improve your community, your company, your project, and your software.

Video games are the most glamorous of the electronic arts, but splashy graphics and amazing sound aren’t the defining feature of games. Games are the world’s only interactive artistic medium, and good interaction needs to be designed. Today’s master crafters of interaction design are game designers.

In this session, you’ll get a fresh perspective on user experience design and community engagement by understanding how people are interacting with the fastest-growing form of entertainment in the world.

Topics covered in this session include:

  • Why games work, and how to analyse and build engaging experiences
  • The Mechanics-Dynamics-Aesthetics framework: what it’s good for, and how to use it
  • How to understand what a game’s doing, and how to build for fun

We’ll take this knowledge and apply it to real world examples in the realms of UX and UI design, community management, project management, and company building, as well as a few examples from the actual game development industry.

Photo of Paris Buttfield-Addison

Paris Buttfield-Addison

Secret Lab

Dr Paris Buttfield-Addison is a producer and co-founder at Secret Lab, a mobile development studio based in beautiful Hobart, Australia. Secret Lab builds games for mobile devices, and primarily for children, such as the AIMIA winning (2014) ABC Play School apps for iPad.

Paris formerly worked with Meebo (which was acquired by Google) as mobile product manager. He has a BA in History, and a PhD in Computing/HCI, and has written nearly ten technical, game design, and mobile development books, mostly for O’Reilly Media (most recently ‘Swift Development with Cocoa, 2014’). Paris is currently working on books on Android design, Mobile Game Development with Unity, the Kerbal Space Program game, and the Apple Watch, all for O’Reilly.

Paris completed his PhD in Computing, exploring the design, UX, and feature considerations for mobile Personal Information Management technologies, at the University of Tasmania (UTAS). At UTAS he is part of The UTAS Computing Society (TUCS) and the Information and Interaction (i^2) research group in the School of Engineering and ICT (formerly School of Computing and Information Systems). Paris sits on the board of the Australian Computing Society (ACS) in Tasmania and the Apple University Consortium (AUC).

Paris can be found on Twitter @parisba. He still thinks digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

Photo of Jon Manning

Jon Manning

Secret Lab

Jon Manning is the co-founder of Secret Lab, an independent game development studio based in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. He’s worked on apps of all sorts, ranging from iPad games for children to instant messaging clients. He’s a mobile development guru, and frequently finds himself gesticulating wildly in front of classes full of eager-to-learn developers. He’s written lots of books for O’Reilly Media (and previously Wiley), and recently released Swift Development with Cocoa. He’s currently working on books on Android design, game development with Unity, the Kerbal Space Program game, and the Apple Watch.

Photo of Tim Nugent

Tim Nugent


Tim Nugent pretends to be a mobile app developer, game designer, PhD student and now he even pretends to be an author (he co-wrote the latest update to “Learning Cocoa with Objective-C”, as well as “Swift Development with Cocoa”, and is working on “The Kerbal Book” for O’Reilly). When he isn’t busy avoiding being found out as a fraud, he spends most of his time designing and creating little apps and games he won’t let anyone see. Tim spent a disproportionately long time writing this tiny little bio, most of which was trying to stick a witty sci-fi reference in, before he simply gave up. Tim can be found as @The_McJones on Twitter. He is an avid board game player.