A Comprehensive Game Design Methodology
From First Ideas to Spectacular Pitches and Proposals

The content of this website is licensed under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Attribution–NonCommercial– ShareAlike 4.0 International License. You can freely use and share everything non-commercially and under the same license as long as you attribute it to and link to:

J. Martin | |

However, you can also buy the Ludotronics PDF edition
for an unreasonably moderate price at DriveThruRPG.
Learn here about the five excellent reasons to do so!

Why DriveThruRPG? It’s the largest download store for role-playing stuff in existence and you’ll probably end up buying much more than just your copy of Ludotronics. Which would benefit game designers everywhere!

Why not Amazon? For one, illustrated non-fiction isn’t well-suited for the Kindle format. Also, at a €14.99 price point, Amazon’s cut amounts to €9.75. Well, no.

Phase 01
Welcome to the Preliminary Phase!

Preliminary Phase Introduction

Paying Debts

Much has been written, presented, and taught about game design, and this immense corpus of theory, practice, and opinion as a whole has shaped the way I think about things. Many sources from that corpus are referenced throughout this treatise. But there might be sources that express specific thoughts which I consider, in error, as my own. Wherever that should be the case, drop me a note and a reference, and the oversight will be remedied in the web version and possible book reissues, with a remark to that effect and due apologies.

Then, allow me to express my personal gratitude to some people.

  • First, there are my dear friends Stefan Wetzel and Lutz Winter with whom I traveled a long road together from founding our network for advertising professionals to advergame development to establishing our first independent game development studio in Hong Kong.
  • Next, there are my dear academic colleagues Tim Bruysten, Linda Breitlauch, and Christof Rezk-Salama, all of whom were instrumental in supporting my transition to academia and whose work and activities continue to stimulate and inspire my lectures and presentations.
  • Then, there are my dear remote conversation partners Austin Walker and Brianna Wu, whose very different experiences and perspectives continue to shape the way I teach and think about game design, the future of the video game industry, and the social and ethical responsibilities attached to this medium as a cultural force.
  • Finally, there is my dear partner in crime Diddi Eis, who provided me with hundreds of hours of gameplay to observe and analyze; and the input from my students and former students for games I hadn’t tried out or heard of; all of which widened my horizon and supplied me with an endless stream of practical examples and counterexamples.

up | down

Phases, Levels, and Beats

Ludotronics is divided into six chapters called “phases.” Each phase has a number of subchapters called “levels.” In some phases, levels are linear, as in this one. In other phases, several levels are arranged in a non-linear fashion, as in the very next one.

Most levels, in turn, are divided into “beats,” a term that denotes, to be discussed later, the smallest unit of action within a dramatic structure.

This first phase, the Preliminary phase, has three linear levels. They will make you familiar with what’s in for you, the general concept of the Ludotronics paradigm, and the latter’s cultural context, respectively.

up | down

Trademarks, Creative Commons, and Stuff

Ludotronics is a registered trademark. Its use should not exceed the limits of Fair Use, or of similar conventions in countries outside the U.S.

The use and reuse of this text or parts of this text including the illustrations are subject to the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and must always be attributed to and linked to:

Please use this license responsibly. When in doubt, visit the Creative Commons website at or contact me at via email at or

All the names of the works of art, companies, and brands mentioned under the Fair Use doctrine throughout this treatise—for purposes of analysis, criticism, and scholarly reference—are copyrighted or trademarked by their respective owners. Which should really be obvious without pepper-spraying page after page with superscript symbols. In the final Postmortem phase in Level Two: Rightsholders, every intellectual property not mentioned in Level One: References is listed with full attributions, from games and movies and television series to compositions and companies and trademarked products.

The bibliography, which lists every referenced source and resource, is also located in the final Postmortem phase, in Level One: References. These references should be used! Much like a university lecture, this treatise can’t and won’t follow every aspect down to its last detail and into its darkest corners. Natural sciences, social sciences, the humanities, and math—each of these fields will contribute aspects to design decisions, and all we can do is scratch the surface. On that account, the sources listed in the bibliography are accompanied by keywords in parentheses to indicate their associated topic—to make it easier for you to follow down the rabbit holes of your own choosing and discover the rich treasures they will lead you to.