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Creating and Designing with Your Own Pattern Language

Christopher Barney

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Course Information

Course Fee

$999 (approx. £750) per student.

Seating is limited to ensure each student has time with the instructor, and registration for these courses will be closed when capacity is reached. Purchasing a GDC Masterclass pass also gives you full access to the AI Summit at Tobacco Dock London during London Tech Week.

Course Description

For new designers, the scope of game design is so large that it is impossible for any finite curriculum to teach them everything they need to know. For veteran designers, combining a career's worth of design technique and expertise into unified intentional designs is a difficult task. This class introduces a practical way to help designers synthesize their existing knowledge and understand the ways that the techniques that they know interact and how each affects their overall design.

This course will introduce the idea of Game Design Patterns and a Pattern Language. It will walk students through the process of creating their first pattern. Students will form small groups and create additional patterns. Groups will work together to connect their patterns into a larger Pattern Language. Finally, students will complete a group design exercise based on a selected set of patterns.

Course Type

Virtual one-day course: This is a single course that takes place completely virtually over Zoom for one full eight-hour day with breaks.

Intended Audience

This course will be valuable to many different groups, from new game design students, to design team leads to game design professors. Each will find different uses for the techniques discussed in the course, including facilitating clear communication between those groups!

Key Takeaways

You will learn:

  • The definition and history of Design Patterns and Pattern Languages.
  • The process for creating your own game design patterns to help you solve thorny design problems.
  • The process for connecting patterns together into a Pattern Language to solve complex problems or create full game designs.
  • How to record your patterns and access patterns created by others in the freely available Pattern Library.
  • How to use a set of patterns as the basis for a unique design.
  • You will leave the course with the experience of creating and using 5 or more original design patterns.


This course should not require any pre-course work, though students wanting to maximize their in class productivity might want to read the first 5 chapters of the book Pattern Language for Game Design though that text is in no way required to participate in the course.

Students should register for a free account on the Pattern Library website as they will need to record their in class work there to facilitate sharing patterns with other members of the class.

Instructor Bio

Chris has spoken at conferences all over the world. He contributed his game design and programming skills to Pearson's web-based MMO, Poptropica, for six years, as well as serving as the lead internal game designer for the educational games website Funbrain. For the past five years, he has been teaching game design in Northeastern University's graduate and undergraduate game design programs. In December he published the book 'Pattern Language for Game Design' and maintains the free Pattern Library.


Connecting the Global Game Development Community