Course Descriptions

Interactive Arts

GMD 200 Game/Play

An introductory course about game culture, theory, design and development. Students play, make and analyze games in order to build a common and more extensive vocabulary to discuss and understand the form. Principles from traditional board games, sports games, and party games are analyzed and applied to designing two paper-based games over the course of the semester.

GMD 230 2D Game Design

In this course, students will gain a solid foundation in working with the Unity Engine, a powerful cross platform development engine to create video games and other amazing immersive and interactive experiences. Students will learn to use the engine to program, design, and prototype their own video games from the ground up. No programming or game design experience is required. In addition to creating one’s own unique games, students will learn about video game history, theory, and production, including current trends in digital games and gaming.

GMD 231 Narrative Design

An introduction to narrative strategies for digital games. Using the skills learned in their previous game design courses, students learn how to analyze, design, build, and test compelling game narratives.

Open to Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors and Graduate students

GMD 240 3D Game Design

Builds upon the student’s technical and design skills in 2D games and makes the jump into 3D. Students learn how to program, design and build games in 3D environments with a focus on understanding 3D workflows and tools. Students also create their own games as well as work on group projects while learning how to analyze and critique 3D game systems.

Prerequisite: GMD 230 or IA 313

GMD 260 Illustrated Games

This course will examine the relationship between mechanics and aesthetics in the design of traditional two dimensional tabletop games. Students will study the design of board games and card games, examining the critical role that visual design plays in engaging players with a game’s themes and systems. Through independent and group work, students will explore illustration, design, and manufacturing methods used to create visually engaging games which entice and inspire players.

GMD 265 Unreal Engine Workshop

In this introductory skill-building course, students will learn the fundamentals of Unreal Engine, a popular real-time 3D creation tool used in the production of AAA video games, animation, immersive interactive art, architectural visualizations, & film.

GMD 298 Special Topics in Game Design

This course looks at various aspects of game design, theory, and practice with each semester focused on a different theme. Students are expected to be read, discuss, and write about related topics as well as producing finished projects. The specific topic is announced in the course schedule.

Open to Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors and Graduate students

GMD 314 Bodies in Play

This studio course explores the complex role of the body in games. Throughout the semester, students study historic and emergent forms of play, ranging from children's games to experiments in the arts to innovative commercial game interfaces. Students from all disciplines are encouraged to bring their own skills to collaborate on small embodied games, new sports, experimental video game controllers, and playful installations.

Prerequisite: GMD 305, IA 210, or IA 215

GMD 315 Hybrid Games

Explores new game design techniques by having students concurrently design, build and playtest a tabletop game and it's digital counterpart. Students work in teams to build a tabletop and digital RPGs while developing stronger game design and programming skills. The goal of this course is to examine how rapid prototyping of digital and analog games can influence and improve upon a game's design. Students are expected to have a background in either programming, game design or concept art to be considered for the course. This course works closely with students and faculty from Johns Hopkins University’s Computer Science Department.

Prerequisite: GMD 200

GMD 320 Level & Player Experience Desi

Understanding user experience is central to the practice of designing games and other interactive experiences. In this course, students will learn to design exciting and effective video games spaces which result in compelling experiences for their players. Throughout the semester, students will work on small projects to develop processes for planning and prototyping virtual spaces which encourage curiosity and engagement through successful goal setting, wayfinding, and level architecture.

Prerequisite: GMD 230 or IA 313

GMD 330 Unity Engine 2: Advanced 2D

In this course, students will continue building programming and design skills developed in Introduction to Unity Engine: 2D Game Design. Throughout the semester, students will make small, personally-directed games, exploring exciting new concepts such as game development for mobile devices like phones and tablets. Additionally, students will learn how to use Version Control systems and other valuable project management skills to work effectively on team projects.

Prerequisite: GMD 230 or IA 313

GMD 340 Advanced 3D Game Design

Create small 3D games in groups while furthering their understanding of 3D game design, research and prototyping. The course emphasizes project management skills so that groups can successfully plan and execute their designs. Studio work is supplemented by readings and discussions further exploring contemporary cultural issues surrounding digital games.

Prerequisite: GMD 240

GMD 400 Senior Thesis - Visual Dev

In this collaborative course, students will begin preparing a final body of artwork geared towards the visual development market. This section of senior thesis will contain students from multiple disciplines who are interested in developing a body of work collaboratively or individually for games, film, and animation. Working closely with instructors and peers, students will create a single semester-long project that will be reviewed in individual and group critiques. Class deliverables will be based on each student’s creative discipline, including outcomes such as the production of a personally rewarding and commercially viable group of images or set of tested and playable game prototypes. Coursework will be supplemented by visiting artists, critics and lecturers, and field trips to places of interest.

GMD 498 Senior Studio I

Working in teams, students spend the semester creating a game prototype that they refine and polish during the spring semester. The goal of this course is for students to demonstrate their ability to research, design and test a game which shows their own personal voice as well as an understanding of the field of game design.

Prerequisite: GMD 230 Senior Game Design majors only

GMD 499 Senior Studio II

In this course students refine their game prototypes into finished games and create documentation to submit for festivals, grants, distributions, and exhibition. The course also covers many aspects of professional development for game designers, including portfolios, web presence, funding, and entrepreneurship.

Prerequisite: GMD 498

IA 202 Introduction to Sound

This course is designed to provide a basic framework for recording, editing, and composing with sound in a variety of media. No prior production knowledge is assumed. Classes focus on creative projects, while establishing a common technical and aesthetic vocabulary through in-class demonstrations and discussions. Core techniques common to digital audio workstation environments are explored using a combination of Adobe Audition and Ableton Live software.

IA 210 Interaction as Art

This course is a series of media non-specific explorations of interaction and interactivity. The goal of the course is to engage students in encounters with objects and others to learn the fundamentals of interaction within the context of art. Students investigate the way we relate to objects and people through physical engagement and group dynamics. In addition, the relationships between body, space and architecture, and how to define and challenge notions of social and physical interactions are covered.

IA 215 Creative Coding

Creative coding = art + code. In this course, students are introduced to the relevant technologies, contexts, histories and materials of creative coding for interactive arts. Beginning with the open source programming language Processing, a programming language built by artists, for artists, students learn programming fundamentals while creating personal projects. The course then introduces physical computing via the Circuit Playground Express, a microcontroller-based hardware prototyping platform that serves as an introduction to electronics, sensors, and programming. Students develop a context for their work via lectures, presentations and critiques.

IA 221 Exp Design: Concepts and Tools

Experience design radically restructures design away from making things and toward facilitating experiences. This approach is useful both to the creation of immersive experiences as well as traditional design of all kinds. The experience designer can create moments of wonder, puzzlement, awe, or reverie using the tools of any form, be it theater, sound, architecture, games, time-based art, marketing, installation art, escape rooms or theme parks. Students dig deep into the conceptual foundations of these practices, and explore how they can be applied to design practices for maximum impact.

IA 230 Sound Art

An introduction to the development of sound as an expressive, sculptural, environmental, networked & musical medium; to a broad range of historical, contemporary and hybrid techniques, ideologies and creative approaches used by artists working in the field. Also, this course surveys such pivotal genres of sound art and the avant-garde as: Musique concrète, tape music, electroacoustic music, industrial & noise music, ambient, No Wave, IDM, Glitch; artists and composers who helped define these genres. Concepts of interactive sound installation, acoustemology, deep listening, live performance, networked music and sound in relationship to video and the internet are also covered.

Open to Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors and Graduate students

IA 252 Network Art

Students learn and apply various new media methods and technologies to create networked art projects. Sound, electronics, games, gaming, play and beyond are used for the creation of participatory net/web events. Students work both individually and collaboratively throughout the semester. Studio work and techniques supplements readings, lectures and discussions on current and historical perspectives on new media, electronic art, systems, and networks.

Prerequisite: IA 215

IA 255 Interactive Spaces

Students learn and apply various media, methods, concepts and technologies to create interactive and/or responsive installations, and investigate the way people relate to objects, people and spaces through the creation of dynamic, site-conditioned projects. Sound, electronics, participation, games, play and beyond are used for the creation of participatory, installation events. Students work both individually and collaboratively throughout the semester.

IA 260 Podcasts/Sonic Storytelling

Podcasts only started appearing in the early 2000’s. But their origins can be traced back to the many specialized radio broadcasts and programs from the early 20th century. Today, over 400 million people worldwide are regular podcast listeners and subscribers with this number only increasing each year. This course will introduce students to the art of storytelling through sound while teaching the fundamental skills needed to conceptualize, script, record, edit, produce and publish their own unique and professional podcasts. In addition to individual creative projects throughout the semester, students will also produce, publish and distribute a collaborative music and art themed podcast program.

IA 270 Interactive Fiction

Explores the intersection of interactivity and the written word--encompassing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Although many of the works examined in the course contain gameplay mechanics, the course's focus is on the expressive possibilities of interactive storytelling. Students create hypertext narratives using Twine software, but no prior programming experience is assumed.

IA 275 Interdisciplinary Media Arts

This course offers an introduction to digital media's aesthetic presentation and expansion as an art form. We will be working with a wide array of audiovisual elements and technical tools to create spatial experiences and immersive environments. Hands-on workshops will cover photo, video and audio editing software. Equipment including video projectors, audio speakers and sensors will be used with techniques such as video mapping, channel mixing and green screen special effects. Guided by the theoretical and critical understanding of the history of installation, performance and interactive arts, we will engage in creative experimentation with various technologies to create new works of expression. Geared toward all students interested in sound, video, animation, photo, new media, installation and performance. Classes will consist of lectures, screenings and workshop demonstrations, along with the presentation and review of student projects.

IA 277 Robotic Arts Introduction

Introduces the Arduino micro-controller, sensors, programming and various output devices (lights/sound/motion) as media for art making. Each student creates their own robotic work for presentation at the end of the semester.

IA 310 The Soundscape

This course provides an introduction to field recording and field recording composition (phonography), acoustic ecology and concepts of deep listening through the exploration of multiple acoustic environments throughout Baltimore City and its surrounding counties. The course takes an anthropological approach and consider how different cultures, urban development and humans have influenced our sonic environment throughout history while considering its positive and negative effects. Topics covered include soundscape theory and history, microphones and recorders, in field techniques and tools for recording sound, working in a variety of locations, basic sound editing and composition, working with Natural VLF (Very-Low-Frequency) phenomena, micro-sound, aural architecture, noise, hydrophones for underwater recording, building contact microphones and acoustic composition. In addition, students also produce a future edition of Framework, a weekly sixty minute international radio program dedicated to field recording and it’s use in composition.

IA 313 Unity3D for Artists

Unity3D is a powerful cross-platform 3D engine and a user-friendly development environment for interactive, time-based projects; this course is a mix of formal/technical training and experimentation. Students receive a detailed introduction to creating personal and collaborative works with Unity3D using best practices for scene/level/environment design, interaction, basic coding in C#, layers, sound, animation, and more. In addition to technical training students study and discuss the importance of narrativity and meaning within time-based, interactive works. Narrative/experience design and interaction mapping, while not the foci of the course, are covered. Experimental practices and approaches are highly encouraged. Version control systems, which allows users to keep track of changes in software development projects and to collaborate, are covered to ensure students are prepared to work collaboratively if they choose. An external hard drive is required for the course.

IA 318 Visual Coding: TouchDesigner

Visual coding is an approach to creative coding using a visual framework rather than traditional text-based coding. Using TouchDesigner--a multimedia node-based coding environment used by artists, programmers, creative coders, software designers, and performers--students will explore algorithms, video, audio, networking, and human computer interactivity to create performances and installations, as well as interactive and fixed media works. The course will require a computer capable of running Touchdesigner as well as projectors, speakers, and webcams.

IA 340 Immersive/Interactive Studio

An integrated studio for students with different perspectives and practices centered around immersion, interactivity and engagement. Both digital (VR/AR, electronics, apps) and analog practitioners (low tech/no tech) are welcome, as are sound artists and performers interested in immersion and interactivity. Students are challenged to bridge gaps, create dialog, and devise hybrid methods to produce compelling and critical experiences for both participants and audience members. Each student makes, presents, and documents two projects throughout the semester in the media of their choosing. Historical, critical and technical content provided via lectures, demonstrations, research, and critiques.

Prerequisite: 3.00 credits of IA

IA 341 Immersive Experience Lab

Students explore immersive experience design as a practice by creating immersive experiences both individually and collaboratively, in the media of their choice. Students bring experiences to life and document them diagrammatically. The experiments unite design with performance, composition with space, and emotion with ideas. This course is a balance of theory and practice, aiming to understand how the experience designer uses any artistic means necessary to script and create moments of wonder, puzzlement, awe, or reverie.

IA 355 Studio Techniques & Recording

This course cover studio recording and editing techniques for in studio and live environments. Students are taught best practices for mixing, monitoring, mastering, microphone design and applications, acoustics, live recording, synchronization, amplifiers, and more.

Prerequisite: IA 202 or IA 230

IA 365 Synesthesia

This studio course takes students on a sonic and visual journey into the exciting world of sound and video synthesis. Beginning in the 1960’s through the present, sound and video synthesis techniques have been used by countless musicians, video artists, television studios and designers to create immersive, psychedelic and engaging multimedia projects in real-time. Topics include sound and video synthesis concepts, hardware and software modular synthesizers for audio and video, projection mapping, generative art, audio reactive visuals, camera-less video and live performance.

Prerequisite: IA 202 or permission of instructor

IA 385 Live Electronic Music & Media

Designed to provide students an immersive laboratory for experimentation with new modes of sound manipulation in a live performance setting. Course topics include analog subtractive synthesis, tape music, real-time sample editing, looping, MIDI, sequencing, effects processing, DJing, remix and live performance strategies. Ableton Live is used to complete most class projects. Students also have access to variety of electronic music hardware including a large format modular synthesizer, sequencer, MIDI controllers and other tools. The course traces the history of 20th & 21st century electronic music through lectures, guest artists, readings and documentaries. Creative projects follow the students individual interests, while also contributing to a common live performance event at the end of the semester.

IA 390 Remix as Performance

This course focuses on the use of remixing as an artistic medium. While using audio as the primary medium, the course also focuses on the use of remixing in other media. Creative projects involve sample slicing, video remixing, collage, constructing a DJ set, live remix with a cappella vocals, and free improvisation in a performance setting. Students explore the history and techniques of scratch DJing with turntables, finger drumming with samplers such as the Akai MPC series, and MIDI mapping controllers with software, including Ableton Live and Traktor Pro.

IA 399 Special Topics in IA

The learning objectives of this course are geared toward a specific topic of current interest generally not covered in other courses offered by the department. These courses, typically not offered continuously in the department, provide students and faculty the opportunity to explore new content and course formats. The specific topic is announced in the course schedule.

IA 400 Senior Thesis - Visual Dev

In this course students start to prepare the final body of artwork to be produced while in Animation, Game Design, or Illustration departments, building their portfolio to achieve a personally rewarding and commercially viable project(s). Working closely with instructors and peers, students from all three departments, to create solo and/or collaborative projects that are reviewed in individual and group critiques. There are visiting artists, critics and lecturers and field trips to places of interest.

IA 430 Live Immersive Production

Focuses on the creation of a collaborative immersive performance to be presented publicly at the end of the semester. Students cultivate the skills they need to originate, script, realize and produce live, immersive experiences. They learn the basics of collaboration, site specific design, narrative development, performance skills, and techniques for interacting with audiences. The course also covers all practical aspects of production, including team coordination, planning, models for project funding, and promotion. The piece produced together is shared with an invited audience and documented.

IA 498 Interactive Arts Thesis

Senior Interactive Arts majors only

IA 499 Interactive Arts Thesis II

Interactive Arts majors only