What I am willing to predict, however, even at this early stage, is that the real loser in all of this will be PC gaming. Let’s start with Quake 4, which uses the “old” Doom 3 engine but still came across as one of the more impressive PC titles I saw at the show. Id, Quake 4’s developer, was also showing an Xbox 360 version of the same game behind closed doors, and those reporters I polled at the show confirmed what I thought: they really couldn’t discern any difference between the two versions. —David Carnoy —Xbox 360 and PS3: death to PC gaming? (C|Net)
I’m still thinking about how to recognize the importance of the gaming machines when I teach the course on videogames I’m planning for this January.
If I were to teach this course in a regular semester, I’d have the class play a long-term role-playing game like EverQuest, but since the class is jammed into three weeks, that won’t work. If I were to teach this as a regular in-person course, rather than an online course, I could set up lab sessions where students could sample various games. How about having a row of computers running Grand Theft Auto I through the present?
Since it’s an online class, if I assign a PlayStation game, and the student has an Xbox, or I assign an Xbox game and the student has a PlayStation, or if I assign any console game and the student (like me) doesn’t own a console, that’s a problem.
For now, I’m planning to spend the first week with small web-based games or classic downloadable games. The second week we’ll focus on gaming franchises such as Grand Theft Auto, SimCity, Civilization, and other games that have been around long enough that plenty has been written about them, but will still seem relevant to today’s gaming. My goal is to get the students used to reading and writing about games as an academic subject, and to have them write a “close playing,” supported by academic research. Then, in the third week, students will pick a game or issue to examine in more depth, via an online project (hopefully with annotated screen captures). The whole course is online, which means that they’ll be blogging regularly.
The course isn’t a programming or design course, and neither is it a history course. It’s a cultural studies course. I’m going to assign a little less formal writing than I would if this were a lit course, in part because the students will already be writing a lot in their blogs, but also because I’ll have some expectations for some kind of multimedia presentation. I’d love to have students put together a PowerPoint that features their own narration, or do an anthropological study of a LAN party, or use the photo albums from The Sims to compile a narrative that makes some significant (or touching, or hilarious, or shocking) point about human nature.