Game Design as Cultural Practice

This is the core class in game design for Digital Media Graduate and Computational Media Undergraduate students.

Course Description

Students analyze games as cultural artifacts and gameplay as a patterned cultural experience. The course will survey the history of board games and video games with an emphasis on the cultural, historical and economic contexts in which these forms were produced. Students will conduct analysis of influential and representative games from ancient times to the present, across cultures, eras and genres. This will cover not only traditional, commercial games, but also various cultural and art movements which have used games as an expressive medium or intervention strategy, such as the Dada, Fluxus and Situationist Art, the New Games Movement. The course will also look at issues of representation, identity, gender and diversity in games, as well as the ways narrative and values can be expressed through game design.

Class time will consist of lecture/discussions and structured play and design activities. Students will develop a critical play method by keeping a journal/blog of their gameplay, which they will analyze with reference to specified readings. Through this process students will develop analysis skills and versatile command of the expressive capabilities of games. The course will culminate in a team-based game project, which will include generation of pitch and design documents and team evaluations. Students taking this course for graduate credit will also be asked to do additional readings give presentations and run class sessions during the course of the semester.

Course Blogs