22 Dec 2009 [ Prev | Next ]

4. Course Objectives

This course isn't about learning how to "win" a game, nor is it about programming or design. In fact, according to a recent study in the academic journal Games Studies,  "prior videogame experience often interferes with students' abilities to reason critically and analytically about games" (Zagal and Bruckman).  Playing a game in order to study it requires a different approach than playing it in order to master it.

Your objectives for this course are to
  • explore definitions of important concepts such as game and fun
  • learn about the origins and historical development of video games,
  • expose yourself to a broad range of games,
  • gain experience recognizing and interpreting basic game elements (goal, risk, fiction, emotional engagement, rules, outcome, values, consequences, close playing, etc.),
  • develop an awareness of the complex cultural context within which games exist (children's culture, geek culture, women's issues, political debate, economic and hardware constraints, aesthetic concerns, etc.),
  • and ultimately, to articulate the core cultural values represented in a particular game.
To that end, you will:
  • play several games on the syllabus
  • study several texts (including fan-made videos, games journalism, and academic research)
  • complete quizzes and exercises to ensure that you are keeping up with the readings and to evaluate your progress,
  • participate regularly in class web-based discussions, and
  • research an academic subject related to games, and present your findings in a creative online presentation (could be a video, website, or just about anything) and an academic paper (6-8 pages).

The Seton Hill University Learning Objectives (found on page 2 of the 2008-1010 course catalog) lists several skills that this course is especially designed to help you develop:
  • Use technological skills to access information, organize knowledge, and communicate.
  • Express arguments or main points clearly, in written and oral communication.
  • Find, evaluate, and apply information.
  • Locate and analyze expressive media to gain information or comprehend the significance of an issue or event.
Depending on the topic you choose for your research project, this course may also help you
  • Assess privilege and oppression from the perspective of culture, race, class, and gender.


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