Data Analysis for Game Development

Data Analysis for Game Development

IMGD 2905

This course will cover basic concepts of probability and data analysis as they apply to the design and analysis of interactive media and games. Students will study appropriate use of probability distributions in the design of interactive experiences, and the use of data analysis methods to understand user behavior in games and other interactive experiences. Topics will include discrete and continuous probability distributions, programming techniques to produce samples from different distributions, descriptive statistics, exploratory data analysis and using existing tools to collect and analyze data from gameplay. This course counts toward the Quantitative Science component of the university-wide Mathematics and Science Requirement for IMGD majors only.

Recommended background: High school algebra



info | grading | slides | projects | samples | timeline

Course Information


Professor: Mark Claypool
office hours: Mo 11am-12 Tu 1:15-2pm Th 4-5pm Fr 12-1pm
place: Fuller Labs, room B24

SA: Hannah Jauris
office hours: Tu 12-12:50pm Th 12-1pm Th 1-2pm Fr 12-12:50pm
place: Fuller Labs, room A22

Email list: (please use appropriately)
Class: dl-imgd2905 at

Time and Place

Days: Mo, Tu, Th, Fr
Time: 10:00pm-10:50am
Place: Fuller Labs 320 (FL320)


David M. Levine and David F. Stephan. "Even You Can Learn Statistics and Analytics", Third Edition, Pearson, 2015. ISBN: 978-0133382662.

The book is unfortunately named since it suggests a degree of ineptitude in the student, but the content is well-presented with nice examples. The technical depth is sufficient to provide a decent foundation for game analytics.


List of topics covered in this course (not necessarily in order of appearance):

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Grading Policy


Final grades will be computed as follows:

Projects: Each student will complete five projects that require engaging in data analysis for game development. This includes hands-on work with appropriate data collection, statistics and visualization tools for analysis. Work on each project will be demonstrated through a written report.

Although content is a significant part of any project writeup, content means little if the reader cannot easily extract the information and main messages. Thus, written reports are to be graded on presentation clarity as well as content. Writing should suitably concise, follow directions, and provide the needed information precisely. While it is not the intent to play "English teacher" while grading, errors in grammar, organization, and/or style may affect the grade.

Presentation: Each student will present exactly one part of a project report orally to the class. The content will be drawn directly from the student's own report/analysis, with appropriate visual aids (e.g., slides). The presentation length will be constrained to a maximum of 4 minutes.

Presentations will take place nearly every day throughout the term, about one presentation per class. Students will be assigned to their slots ahead of time, with adequate time to prepare. There will may be the opportunity for 1 voluntary "do over" if time permits.

Students will also provide peer-critiques of each other's presentation in written form. The presenting student will review the critiques of and write a short (about a page) reflection, to be turned in shortly after presenting.

The main presentation grade will be based on speaking, organization and preparation, visual aids, clarity and overall professionalism. Part of the presentation grade will be providing critiques for others (one for each other student) and for the self-reflection.

Exams: There will be three in-class exams, spaced roughly 1/3 apart each - the third exam is on the last day of the term.
There is a remote possibility of a pop quiz for which no advance notice will be provided. Exams will be closed book and closed notes, unless otherwise indicated. The majority of each exam will cover basic ideas and objectives of the class with a few questions testing additional understanding and insight.

The final grades earned will reflect the extent to which a student has demonstrated understanding of the material and completed the assigned projects. The base level grade will be a "B" which indicates that the basic objectives on projects and exams have been met. A grade of an "A" will indicate significant achievement beyond the basic objectives. A grade of a "C" will indicate not all basic objectives have been met, but work was satisfactory for credit. No incomplete grades will be assigned unless there are exceptional, extenuating circumstances. Similarly, no makeup projects or exams will be given unless there are exceptional, extenuating circumstances.

A letter "S" grade will be awarded to students with superlative performance, a recognition above that of an "A" grade. Only the top 10% of the class will receive such a grade. While the "S" grade will not show up on an official WPI transcript (it will show up as an "A"), students that receive an "S" are more than welcome to claim the grade on a resume, blog or any other forum they wish - I'll stand behind it.

Participation: Showing up to class is worth a large part of the class participation grade, but so is being engaged in the class material through asking and answering questions.

Late Policy

Exams are done, and due, in class. Projects are due online at 11:59pm on the due date, unless otherwise noted. Late projects will be accepted with a 10% penalty of the total earned value for each day (24 hours) late, with the weekend counting as one day. Projects will not be accepted more than one week beyond the due date.

Class Conduct

This course is intended for serious students. Participants will be expected to adhere to all rules of professional behavior. It is to be emphasized that knowledge of material and professional behavior are tied together; failure in one of them negates any excellence in the other.

All work is expected to be done individually. As such, students are encouraged to discuss their work with each other, but are also expected to do the work by themselves. A guideline is that code, data, graphs and analysis can all be viewed by students at the same place and time (e.g., by looking over each other's shoulder and explaining and discussing). But the line is drawn at digitally sharing such materials - e.g., there is to be no emailing, cutting-and-pasting or otherwise digitally copying code, data, graphs or tables from others. Any breach of professional ethics as evidenced, for example, by copying exams or material (e.g., data and/or graphs) for the projects, from other students or the Internet, or using outside help of any kind, is considered adequate reason for an NR in the course and a report to the Dean of Students. Refer to the official WPI statements on Academic Integrity for details. Remember this warning - any breach of ethics will earn you an NR and an official report. When in doubt, ask!

Research has shown that students who are "active" and take notes during class retain more information, even if they do not use those notes later. So, take notes! Do this on paper or with the computer. This means laptop use in class is acceptable as long as it is restricted to note taking, or for a limited amount of information seeking. Any other computer/phone activity distracts you or the people around you, preventing thoughtful participation in the class. Offending students will be asked to shut down their devices in such a case.

Also, those who multi-task (e.g., with laptops or mobile phones during class) learn less. In fact, those who believe that they are expert multi-taskers often do the worst! Productivity can be reduced by as much as 40 percent when switching tasks. The "multi-tasking" state of mind has been labeled continuous partial attention and is a problem when trying to focus. During class, try to limit multi-tasking with any device you have - stay with the task on hand that is paying attention to the lecture. Maintaining focus on a difficult skill, but like most skills, one that gets better with practice.

info | grading | slides | projects | samples | timeline


Slides from class lectures and other in-class materials are available shortly before or after they are presented. Both powerpoint and pdf are provided, along with an indication of the relevant chapter in the course textbook.

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Projects and due-dates will be placed here as they are defined. Here is what we have so far:

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This section has any samples discussed in class, exam preparation material, tutorials or any other demonstration-type class materials.

Exam materials:

Presentation forms:

For finding some rich data sets (including some on games) ready for analysis, you might check out:

A visual introduction to probability and statistics:

info | grading | slides | projects | samples | timeline

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Mark Claypool (claypool at