The Good, the Bad, the Ugly of Video Game Design

We’re about to launch into an intensive two-week Game Design unit around science (more on that this weekend) and along with slowly getting my students gaming, I am trying to get them thinking about game design. Yesterday, I asked them to take a short assignment of their thoughts on what makes a game good and what makes a game bad. I tried to steer them to thinking of the elements of game design.

One student wrote this on their paper:

“It makes my brain do interesting things.”

I love that quote because it captures why I am even bothering to think about video game design and development in the classroom. It’s all about pushing my students to think different (Thanks, Steve Jobs), create something interesting, and step into the spotlight as a published game developer. Along the way, we’re going to tackling many skills: writing, the engineering process, visual literacy, authentic publishing, peer feedback, etc.

Here are the collection of answers from the assignment, as Wordles. There was plenty of repetitions in their answers, but these capture the main ideas I saw in their writing. Notice how graphics, and sound, and playability are all in the mix. That awareness is a good start for our conversations.
Good Game Design Elements
Bad Game Design Elements

Peace (in the game),



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