Skip to main content

Course Curriculum

The REPLAY program's curriculum focuses on a range of core subjects within the field of game studies, creation, and production. The program is structured around three interconnected conceptual themes, each of which plays a crucial role in shaping the educational experience and the skills and knowledge acquired by students.

  • Theme 1:
    Cultural Diversity of Games and Play

    This theme places a strong emphasis on exploring the cultural aspects of games and play. It encompasses two main aspects:

    • Culture through Games: This aspect involves using games to preserve and promote culture, as well as using game design to address social and cultural themes from unique perspectives. This might include designing games as a form of performance, utilizing games to analyze and enhance social dynamics, and exploring cultural heritage through games. Students engage in designing games that offer new framings and contexts for cultural experiences.
    • Culture of Games: Here, the focus is on understanding the cultures around game creation. Students develop a deep understanding of the history and evolution of the medium, exploring how different game genres, mechanisms, and cultural references have shaped the medium over time. They also consider speculative design work to envision alternative formats, media, and regional influences on game development.
  • Theme 2:
    Games as a Broad Medium

    This theme encourages students to develop a medium-agnostic approach to game design and play. It includes the following elements:

    • Medium-Agnostic Game Design: Students learn to create games that are not tied to specific platforms or media. They explore innovative ways to engage players and rethink the control layers of games. This could involve using the player's body as a control interface or repurposing unexpected materials for game inputs.
    • Expanding the Notion of Playspace: Students are encouraged to rethink traditional concepts of playspace. They explore the possibilities of location specific games, play in public spaces and interactive storytelling within a playful context. This encourages creativity and thinking beyond traditional game environments.
  • Theme 3:
    Self-Learning Skills and Production

    This theme is centered on the goal of preparing graduates for the future of games and play, and it emphasizes self-directed learning and practical skills:

    • Interdisciplinary Team Practices: Students learn how to work effectively in interdisciplinary teams. This is important for the collaborative nature of the games and creative industries.
    • New Professions and Trends: Students explore emerging professions and trends within the games industry, equipping them with the knowledge and adaptability to stay relevant in a rapidly changing field.
    • Project Dissemination and Entrepreneurship: Graduates are expected to not only create innovative games but also effectively bring their creations to the world. This pillar emphasizes skills related to project management, showcasing, and entrepreneurship.
  • Guiding Principles

    In addition to these foundational themes, we incorporate five guiding principles into our curriculum design:

    • Multidisciplinary Excellence: REPLAY brings together different universities and institutions from across Europe to offer an unparalleled learning experience. This multidisciplinary approach ensures that students receive comprehensive training in game studies, creation, and production. Our curriculum seamlessly integrates the technical, artistic, and social dimensions of game design, producing graduates who are versatile professionals prepared to excel in the ever-evolving games industry.
    • Practical Learning: REPLAY focuses on hands-on experience, with students creating playable prototypes, engaging with local cultural contexts, and even deploying their games at festivals and museums. This practical approach fosters creativity and entrepreneurship.
    • Mentorship and Networking: Students benefit from a vast network of industry experts and scholars who provide mentorship, assessment, and guidance throughout the program. This support system empowers students to realize their visions and prepare for successful careers.
    • Inclusivity and Diversity: REPLAY is committed to promoting inclusivity by actively addressing diversity in the game sector. The program ensures that diversity in gender, gender identification, sexuality, religion, and economic status is celebrated and supported.
    • Cultural Bridging: The program creates a multicultural and multilingual community, fostering interpersonal relationships and interdisciplinary dialogues. This cultural bridging plan not only enriches the learning experience but also nurtures sustainable and responsible entrepreneurship.

Academic Programme

  • 1st Semester
    Lusófona University (Lisbon/portugal)

    Game Seminars I 3 Freeform module taught by invited lecturers, consisting of high-intensity short-duration workshops, field-trips, and self-directed study, oriented towards group discussions, networking, and mutual learning support.
    Critical Play 6 Module oriented towards critical play and reflective practice as game designers, where students write design diaries to situate themselves in relation to stakeholders and their design process for creating interventive or radical game designs pertaining to current issues and topics.
    Experimental Play Lab 12 Module oriented towards realizing design fictions for games, interrogating conventions and creating prototypes for participation in a public venue or showcase.
    Design Sprint I 9 Thesis-oriented experimental module where students carry out ideation and research (including design-research) eye towards finding their final thesis concept, using local resources and networking.
  • 2nd semester
    LUCA School of Arts (Genk/Belgium)

    Game Seminars II  3

    A lecture series of local professionals and companies is organized on a regular basis, to give them an overview of the Belgian game companies and their expertise, thus forming industry connections and contacts that will help them throughout their career. These lectures will also tie in to the running modules, exposing them to different viewpoints in the relevant field. 

    Speculative Design 6

    During this module the students will learn about design thinking and different design methodologies. As game designers we are familiar with using design to solve problems and answer questions. We create entertainment focused work or create products that offer solutions in specific contexts such as education. But during speculative design the students will focus on making games that create problems and raise questions about different contemporary contexts. By focusing our attention on the power of games to create systems that we can inhabit and experience on a deeper level, we can create hyper personal transformative experiences. The students will develop the capacity to create games with true meaning. 

    Play in Context 12

    Play in context is an overarching module in which we offer two courses that explore play from opposing angles. The two modules will be situated on the opposite end of the spectrum of personal versus public. Each module will cover a specific subset of game design and will start with an in depth lecture series regarding the subject followed by a practical project in which the students are challenged to explore the subject through game projects.

    The personal: We usually try to reach as large an audience as possible with our games and will design them accordingly. But what happens if we reverse that idea and make a game for one? By focusing our attention on a single individual we can create personal transformative experiences. How can we, as designers, create work starting from the individual? What new and unexplored concepts does this offer? We can look beyond the current pervasive idea’s and create designs that stem from the unique, cultural and social stories that each of our students will bring. We can create games for change, give voice to the voiceless and address social issues.

    The public: We will look at ways to create games in the context of the social environment that we live in. The module will be structured around a question, project or interest area of a partner in the Flemish region. Examples are musea, NGO’s, government agency’s, special needs partners,… that exist to affect positive change in the community. Students will map out the societal and public needs related to the partner and develop projects around these mappings. These games can be inspirational or even transformative for the people and communities that engage with them. Thus, there will be a real potential to address current societal challenges such as the lack of social connectivity, mental health issues, the wealth divide and environmental concerns.

    Design Sprint II 9

    Design sprint is the module in which students will be able to research the ideas they want to develop for their master thesis during the third and fourth semester and reflect on their views on game design. This will happen through a series of recurring work sessions each week during which no other courses are planned or taught. The students work in our open landscape, to develop their running assignments, work on their masters project ideas  and help and support each other. The planning will be concurrent with our national master, to ensure a strong connection between our national and international students. The students will be encouraged to share snapshots of their work and reflect on their own practice as a game designer, the methods they apply and the heuristics they use. The students will approach game design as a mindset, more so than game design as a theoretical field and are encouraged to discuss the different aspects of these projects such as the context, technology, design and implications.

    Finally, there’s a longform workshop in which the students will work on a proposal for their master thesis. They will work towards a research proposal, supported by rigorous and rapid prototyping. The main goal is not to develop one game, but to gain a breath of knowledge on their chosen subject through different approaches. This will culminate in the team proposing several design tracks for their next academic year, which they can evaluate and enhance further over the summer period.

  • 3rd semester
    Aalto University (Helsinki, Finland)

    Games Now! Community 6

    "Games Now!" is an open lecture series and learning community that delves into the evolving dynamics of the gaming industry. In this course, students actively engage with the GN! learning community by attending lectures and events, nurturing their involvement with the GN! online community, and establishing connections within both formal and informal networks of learners. Additionally, students will play a role in shaping the content, trajectory, and subjects covered in GN! lectures and events.

    Learning goals: On the completion of the course, the students…

    • Are able to identify the current trends in the industry
    • Understand how game professionals follow the trends and adapt to the changes
    • Understand how to effectively nurture and grow open learning communities in fast paced industries
    Learning with Game Industry Professionals 15

    In this course, students establish a personal learning goal and participate in a series of mentoring sessions aimed at nurturing, guiding, and evaluating their progress toward achieving that goal. The chosen learning objective is strategically aligned to support the culmination of the students' final project, and their independent learning journey is subject to ongoing feedback and assessment from instructors, peers, and industry experts in an iterative manner.

    Moreover, students are introduced to and receive guidance in becoming proficient learners who can effectively navigate and contribute to the dynamic landscapes of their future occupational game and play industry communities. This entails a combination of individual work, attendance at various local game industry conferences and gatherings, and one-on-one interactions with teachers, fellow students, and established industry professionals.

    Learning goals: on the completion of the course, the students…

    • Are able to set personal learning goals and follow these goals in an independent and iterative manner
    • Understand the networking platforms and habits of game and play professionals
    • Are experienced in utilizing occupational networks in their life-wide learning processes
    Game Project Seminar 6

    In this course, the students start working on their final projects. Students will be introduced to the basic requirements of the final project report, they are given practice in presenting their work in spoken and in written format, and are given reading assignments to support their work.

    Learning goals: on the completion of the course, the students…

    • Are able to express their creative work and ideas verbally and visually to others Are able to reflect their creative process verbally and visually Are able to find and utilize relevant academic and professional references for their project reports
    Game Jam 3

    Within this course, students immerse themselves in Arctic themes via co-creative game development practices. Students work together to develop games in collaboration with individuals representing diverse Arctic perspectives, including scientists, indigenous communities, tourism stakeholders, local artists, and other relevant stakeholders. This creative process unfolds within a game jam setting, fostering an innovative and inclusive approach to game creation.

    Learning goals: On the completion of the course, the students…

    • Are aware of the multitude of topics, themes, and actors of The Arctic Are able to translate scientific topics and lived experiences into game experiences through co-creative practices Understand how to engage co-creative processes in the format of a game jam
  • 4th semester
    Students develop the Final Project/thesis in Lusófona, LUCA or Aalto

    Thesis 30

    The Thesis In REPLAY should be consider as:

    1. one individual or collective project (“vertical slice”) consisting of a playable demonstration that is highly-representative of an envisioned final-product and suitable for dissemination and promotion.
    2. Producing individually a theoretical and critically grounded report / project dossier that frames and reflects upon the “Vertical Slice” project.

The Thesis

The core outcomes of REPLAY are the students' final projects which they develop for their thesis:

  • one individual or collective project – “vertical slice” – consisting of a playable demonstration that is highly-representative of an envisioned final-product and suitable for dissemination and promotion.
  • a written report;

The project included in the thesis can be on the medium the student decides and with the field of application the student decides. Games demonstrated in the final project can be digital, analog, mixed-media, VR, play in public spaces, and more, and can be meant for commercial distribution, deployment at events, festivals, installations, or particular local contexts, or serious/applied games for use in institutional, cultural or social contexts.

Complementarily, the student is required to produce a theoretical and critically grounded report / project dossier that frames and reflects upon that same project. The report is developed individually.

Mobility Scheme

The mobility scheme offered by REPLAY is mandatory. During the first semester, the students all work together in Lisbon. The first semester in Lisbon is dedicated to harnessing local networks, contexts, and cultures, using these resources against the established grain of game-making.

On the second semester, all students move to Genk, to work together at Luca School of Arts followed by a move to Helsinki, at Aalto University for the third semester.

Finally, for their final semester, students will be guided in selecting a host university between Lusófona, Luca, and Aalto. If the student's final project involves an organization or company in a country outside Portugal, Belgium, or Finland, this organization has to be an official partner institution of REPLAY Masters. In that case, they can spend their final semester in the relevant country.

Diploma Award

The REPLAY consortium will award successful students with a joint degree diploma (including diploma supplements).

REPLAY Masters will grant from the beginning a joint degree and attached diplomas supplement based on the already existing and locally accredited master courses (second cycle degrees) in the area of Game Design, offered by each one of the schools in the consortium.