For the past six years I have been teaching a game design class to a diverse group of programmers, artists, media theorists and designers. I have found that traditional academic model of teaching, as the handing down of established knowledge from expert to novice, fail badly in such a young and dynamic discipline. Instead I have embraced a more interactive model of learning, accepting students as fellow knowledge-creators and working together to find the ideas to help us better understand our design practice.
In this paper I present a ball game I use as an opener in the very first class. I describe the rules of the game in full and discuss how I employ as a teaching tool. I have used it every year and it has grown in importance as a way to break down the barriers between lecturer and student and between students of different backgrounds. It also serves as an thought-provoking example to help students think more carefully about some of the most obvious and yet troublesome ideas in the field: ‘fun’, ‘rules’, ‘play’ and ‘game’.