Greg Trefry


New York University

Interactive Telecommunications Program & Game Center

Friday, 3:20-5:50

Class Description

What happens to games when they escape the boundaries of our tabletops, desktops, TV screens and even living rooms? From massively multiplayer online games to networked objects that turn the city into a gigantic game grid, new forms of super-sized gaming and play are quickly opening up vast new spaces in which to play. Whether these games are measured in terms of number of players, geographical dimensions, or temporal scope, they represent a new trend in which the ‘little world” created by a game threatens to merge or even swallow up the “real world.”


This class focuses on the particular design problems of large-scale games and playful systems.  In this class students develop a foundation in game design fundamentals from which to approach the specific issues particular to big games.  We will analyze existing digital and non-digital large-scale games and playful experiences, taking them apart to understand how they work.  We will also work on a series of design exercises that explore the social, technological, and creative possibilities of large-scale games and play.


The class will be broken into three sections: Space, People and Time.  During the first section we will look at how games operate in space, how they stand apart or blend in with the world around them. The second section, People, will focus on games that bring together large numbers of players into one game. In the third section, Time, we will focus on games that stretch over long periods of time and begin to integrate with our everyday lives.


For the final we will bring all of these ideas together to create games that challenge established notions of gameplay.




  • Play games: you will be expected to contribute to the discussion about them
  • Space Game: a game about a location
  • People Game: a game for a large number of people
  • Time Game: a game that spans a long of time
  • Final Team Project




We will be reading a number of different articles and chapters from different books. You can find links in this syllabus.  I will also post readings to our class’s Slack channel.


Communication & Collaboration

We'll communicate and collaborate through our class Slack Channel:




  • Attend the class and talk – For every two absences your grade will be lowered one letter grade
  • Play the games and do the reading
  • Turn in all assignments on time and complete.  For each week your project is late you lose one letter grade.




25% In-class discussion

15% Space Game

15% People Game

15% Time Game

30% Final Project



Class 1 / September 9 - Establishing a shared game & play design language

Class 2 / September 16 - Physical Activities & Skill

Class 3 / September 23 - Location

Class 4 / September 30 - Space Game Due

Class 5 / October 7 - Agency

Class 6 / October 14 - Role-Playing

Class 7 / October 21 - People Game Due

Class 8 / October 28 - Persistence

Class 9 / November 4 - Behavior

Class 10 / November 11 - Time Game Due

Class 11 / November 18 - Spectacle

Class 12 / December 2 - Pervasiveness

Class 13 / December 9 - Playtest Finals

Class 14 / December 16 - Final Game Due

Greg Trefry

New York University

Interactive Telecommunications Program & Game Center

Friday, 3:20-5:50