Skip to main content


Chris Holden,

This course is about making videogames for mobile devices to better understand local place. You may think this takes programming skills and lots of money. But thanks to some easy-to-use tools, including ARIS which I help design, normal people can do this too. If game design sounds interesting but out-of-reach, this might be the class for you. Go check out ARIS now: 

There’s more at You don’t need wait for this class to start making games. 

Another reason to sign up is to know more about this city and connect to it in a new way. This course is about finding what’s hidden in ABQ, making it visible, and maybe better. Games may sound like a funny way to know a place, but there are natural advantages. To make a game about a place or issue, you need to know that thing deeply and from a variety of perspectives, and you need to know how to make it interesting to someone else. Here are a couple videos that may give you a better idea why games? 

Jane McGonigal Games can make a better world 
Kurt Squire How Video Games Can Encourage Civic Engagement 

Using mobile games to explore place, sometimes called augmented reality (AR), isn’t exactly a new idea, but it’s new enough. This field has not yet seen its Einsteins, Eisensteins, Shakespeares, Curies, or Kubriks. With a good idea, hard work, and some luck, you could be the first genius of AR. You can see some of the ideas that past students have tried here, here, and here. There are also many past and ongoing projects from outside this class here in ABQ. You can find out about them here. Beyond the limitless possibilities of a new medium, there are groups on campus and across the world who are looking for AR game designers help them connect people to places and ideas. 
Not everything is a game, but games give us a good language for creating interesting experiences. In this interdisciplinary course, we will learn about and practice game design. We’ll go outside the classroom and into the community. And the next time you are looking for a way to recruit participation in any endeavor, you’ll look back to those experiences and find something useful.


We will find inspiration from others' work in two disciplinary areas of writing: 

Game Design and Game Studies (e.g. The Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell) and 
Understanding local place (e.g. The Orphaned Land by VB Price, and Duke City Fix)


NO Game Design Experience - Seriously, beginners welcome. No programming necessary. 

Express interest in local place - Go places, meet people, read about issues, get involved. 
Practice game design - Make, play, analyze, and read about games. 
Work with others - Make design teams, get feedback and recruit help from classmates, find and work with relevant community stakeholders, join the AR gaming community. 
Write - Design documents and post-mortems for your games, analyze game mechanics and dynamics.


Chris Holden is a mathematician for the people. He received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Originally from Albuquerque, his research interests center around the creation of place-based augmented reality mobile games. Chris enjoys videogames like DDR and Katamari Damacy, and he takes a whole lot of photos.