Mobile Gaming

Module Description

This module examines principles of theory and design in mobile gaming, an industry which which has seen exponential growth over the past decade and is worth billions of dollars annually. The increasing ubiquity of smartphones and other handheld devices has enabled developers to get their games into the hands of users outside of the typical gaming demographic, while also allowing gamers to play virtually anywhere and anytime.

This module examines mobile gaming from a variety of perspectives, paying particular attention to its history, commercial practices (e.g. the “freemium” model), and the potential impacts on players (e.g. addiction). The module aims to help students better understand a platform and medium many of them may interact with on a regular basis.

Module Level: Introductory - requires no prior knowledge.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students will be able to:

  • understand the history (and rise) of mobile gaming and its platforms;
  • qualitatively assess the mechanical and aesthetic properties of mobile games;
  • apply theoretical concepts for the purposes of design and creation.
Suggested Learning Activities and Assignments

Through a series of short video lectures, readings, and developer interviews, students learn key concepts relevant to mobile gaming as a cultural and economic practice. Assignments include critical reflections in the form of blog posts and short essays, and an interactive exercise which asks students design their own hypothetical game.

Critical Reflection: Students are asked to analyze particular mobile games, applying the concepts learned in the lectures and readings. For the interactive exercise, students are asked to apply course concepts in the design of a hypothetical mobile game, paying attention to mechanics, aesthetics, and potential financial models.


Dr. Jason Hawreliak (Brock University) is an Assistant Professor of Game Studies in the Centre for Digital Humanities. His research examines semiotics and rhetoric in digital media, with a particular focus on videogame platforms. His current project looks at how principles of multimodality can be applied to videogame analysis and design.