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Design Diary

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Overview | Picking a Topic | Tech Decisions | Design Decisions
Usability Testing | What Went Right | What Went Wrong | Conclusions

Overview - Design Diary

This diary covers the creation of the Colosseum game project from an academic and technical perspective. The goal of this document is to relate the development in a manner that will be helpful to others who choose to tackle a similar task, and to explain the rationale for choosing the topic. 

Outline and Summary
For readers who would like a quick summary, the following outline will address the broad issues and process of the project. This is intended as a sort of “executive summary”. Assumptions and statements here are further explored in the main body of the documentation. 


  • Violence is an integral part of the human condition. The aggressive disposition of humans could be one of the primary reasons we have come to dominate the planet and our evolutionary tree.
  • Film, novels, spectacles and interactive subject matter (including interactive entertainment) with violent themes do quite well in the marketplace.
  • A substantial portion of successful contemporary video games contain brutally violent subject matter.


  • If violence will always sell, is there a way to give it context and meaning to the user (as opposed to showing violence for purely visceral effect).
  • Is there a way to “exploit” violent entertainment to educate as well as entertain?


  • Create a new genre of video game, “educational shooters”.
  • Leverage market’s love of violence to spark interest in history, art and literature.


  • Film has been giving violent history lessons for years. Content is disturbing, but has a historical context (Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan).
  • The genre of “historical shooter” has been emerging in the video game industry. This genre attempts to transports the player to a moment in history.

Next Steps

  • The “educational shooter” will go one step further by allowing the user to actively find out more information about the period by interacting with objects, characters and surroundings. The game will also offer visceral thrills in the context of the setting.

Medium and Context

  • Create an interactive game with these concepts using a third-party game engine
  • The setting will be the gladiatorial games of ancient Rome, an appropriate context given the subject matter. The gladiatorial arenas were one of the birthplaces of violent entertainment.


  • Give context and meaning to violent behavior.
  • Spark other interests and pursuits in the user (other than imitation of violent behavior).


  • Determine out if users retain the information presented or find it distracting.
  • Determine if users are motivated to learn more about ancient Rome.

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