A few months ago, Loom
creator Brian Moriarty
gave a very interesting lecture at GDC 2012 called "Lehr und Kunst mit Perlenspiel". In the lecture Moriarty reflects on his experiences creating and teaching a game design course at Worchester Polytechnic Institute. In his conviction that good game designers should know how to code, Moriarty developed a very simple game engine called "Perlenspiel
". His students would use this engine to build small games for their assignments. The limitations of the simple engine and the enforcement of certain rules in the assignments produced very interesting results.
You can watch the lecture for free at the GDC Vault