Multimedia Tools and Applications

, Volume 76, Issue 6, pp 9073–9098 | Cite as

Using combinatorial creativity to support end-user design of digital games

  • Telmo Zarraonandia
  • Paloma Diaz
  • Ignacio Aedo


To really exploit the full potential of computer games in areas other than entertainment, it will be necessary to reduce the high cost associated with their design and development and to put their production directly into the hands of the domain experts. Although these experts might be interested in integrating games in their activities, they normally do not have the required technical background to create or adapt games to their needs. We propose to tackle the complexity of game design, and thereby facilitate end user design, by defining the games as a combination of more simple games following a combinatorial creativity approach. This approach does not impose the cognitive overload of learning a new design language. In addition, it might also speed up the description of the games insofar as designers do not start from scratch, trying to match their ideas with game components, but they rely upon a set of archetypical games they can combine to reach their goals. The design technique is complemented with a game platform that offers a set of authoring tools for describing game designs that can be exported to XML files, and a game engine able to interpret such files and automatically generate a 3D virtual environment in which the games can be played. In this way, designers can envision games they will be able to design in an iterative way and play the games they design to assess their validity. The proposed combinatorial approach has been evaluated in two focus group experiences that validate its feasibility and acceptability both by technical and non-technical users.


Serious games Digital games Design methods Design tools Game based learning 



This work is supported by the project CREAx funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (TIN2014-56534-R).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Computer Science DepartmentUniversity Carlos III of MadridMadridSpain

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