The primary tool for the course appears to be Game Maker. The college seems to have gone and bought a number of licenses so that we're using the registered versions. (Naturally, the computer I was on had the unregistered version for some bizarre reason.) The text book is Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design. However, the course is focused on game development, not game design, so it looks like we're only covering the first third or so of the book, and most of the rest of the course will be focused on practical development via Game Maker.
The first class dealt primarily with administrative details and technical problems for the first half. We're using computers with removable hard drives for the lab work, and if you've ever dealt with removable hard drives, you know what kind of troubles can result. Especially when dealing with people who have never dealt with removable hard drives. I personally thought it would be intutively obvious for everyone to power down the machines before taking out the drive, but that seems not to be the case.
From there we played with the demo games that are packaged along with Game Maker to get an idea of what Game Maker is capable of, and then did a group exercise to identify points that make for a good game. (First small groups, and then as a class merging the lists of the small groups.) After that we downloaded and installed the game "Chicken Attack" from MSN Games and played that for a while.
Assignment for next week: Write a one to two page review of "Chicken Attack" and read chapters one and two of "Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design". Woo hoo.