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Instruction Manual: Introduction to Video Game Analysis

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Game Summary

This course is designed to provide you with an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of video games as texts, examining their social, artistic, cultural, and educational impact. We will consider the mechanics, aesthetics, narratives, production, consumption, and entertainment value of a number of games over the course of the semester. Questions that will drive our discussions include, but are not limited to: 

•    What is a game? 
•    What is a video game? 
•    How are video games distinct from other kinds of play? 
•    Does gaming exist beyond simply a form of entertainment? If so, how? 
•    How do issues of sexuality, race, gender, and physical ability change our experience of the game? 
•    What is the ultimate role of gaming in society?
•    How can we benefit from treating video games as texts worthy of analysis? 
•    Are video games a form of art? 



1.    Students will learn a variety of critical approaches to analyzing video games. 
2.    Students will understand how historical, political, and cultural contexts influence both game development

       and game consumption. 
3.    Students will become familiar with game studies discourse, including major terms and concepts used

       in game scholarship. 
4.    Students will be able to use their knowledge of this discourse to write critically about video games. 
5.    Students will expand their digital literacy by playing and reading about a number of different video


Expected Learning Outcomes (General Education Requirement) 

1.    Students analyze, appreciate, and interpret significant works of art. 
2.    Students engaged in informed observation and/or active participation in a discipline within the visual,

       spatial, and performing arts. 


Game Rules

Attendance Policy. Given that the majority of our learning will occur through class discussion, attendance in this class is mandatory. However, the university does take into account issues like illness, holidays, deaths in the family, etc. Thus, you are permitted four absences. I do not distinguish between excused or unexcused. Any absences past the fourth will result in a third of a grade lost. So, if your final average is an A and you have missed five classes, then you will receive an A- for the final grade. Attendance can be tracked through the Canvas website. 

Tardiness is disruptive to the classroom environment and prevents you from fully participating and assimilating the information discussed in class. Excessive tardiness will lower your participation grade and, depending on how late you are, may be counted as an absence. 

Laptops, Kindles, and the like are permitted (obviously) so long as you are using them to access the reading, the games we play, or are used to take notes. 

Class Cancellation Policy: In the unlikely event of class cancellation due to emergency, I will contact you via email and convey any changes to the assignments/the schedule.

Email Policy: Email is my primary form of communication outside of class. I expect you to check your email at least once a day and to respond to any emails I personally send you (i.e. not emails sent to the whole class regarding schedule changes). Feel free to email me at any time at either address, however, I may not be checking my email after 9:00pm. If you have a time sensitive question be sure to get it to me as early in the day as possible. 

Grade Scale: Grades are determined along a ten-point scale with pluses and minuses as follows: A (100-93), A- (92.9-90), B+ (89.9-87), B (86.9-83), B- (82.9-80), C+ (79.9-77), C (76.9-73), C- (72.9-70), D+ (69.9-67), D (66.9-60), E (59-0).

Your paper, midterm, and blog posts should be turned in at the time indicated on the assignment/syllabus. Late submission of an assignment will result in the deduction of one full letter grade for each day past the due date (for example, A to B). The grade will not be affected when an assignment has been granted an extension. Keep in mind that technical difficulties do not count as an excuse. You will all know your paper’s due date well in advance and thus you should plan ahead by saving your work and submitting it early. If you find you can’t submit something for whatever reason, email it to me instead. A crashed computer, Canvas acting up, etc. is not an excuse for not getting your assignment in on time. 

Plagiarism is the unauthorized use of the words or ideas of another person. It is a serious academic offense and all cases will result in a referral to the Committee on Academic Misconduct and a failing grade for the course. In addition, it is a violation of the student code of conduct to submit, without the permission of the instructors, work for one course that has also been submitted in fulfillment of the requirements of another course. For additional information, see the Code of Student Conduct ( 

Required Equipment

•    Bioshock ($19.99) 
             Steam for Mac and PC
•    Depression Quest (Free)
•    E.T. (Free) 
•    Fortnite (Free) 

•    Life is Strange: Episode 1 (Free) 
             Steam for Mac and PC
•    Loved (Free) 
•    Pokémon Go (Free) 
             Download for iPhone or Android 
•    Portal ($9.99) 
             Steam for Mac and PC
•    The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition ($9.99) 
             Steam for PC users, app store for Mac users
•    Undertale ($9.99) 
             Steam for Mac and PC
•    World of Warcraft (Free up through level 20)


Please note: many of these games contain sensitive content (violence, mentions of suicide, sexual assault, emotional abuse, etc.) as well as potential sensitive content that can crop up when engaging with other players (such as in an MMO). One of video games’ strengths is its ability to tackle all manner of subjects and students are expected to engage with the material in a respectful, critical manner. However, if any of these or similar subjects are triggers for you, please be sure to let me know. We’ll find a way for you to participate in a way that’s best for your mental health. 

Links to all games can be found on Canvas. 

Quest Log 

•    Attendance/Participation: 15 XP 
•    Blog Posts: 25 XP
•    Blog responses: 15 XP
•    Midterm Project 20 XP
•    Final Paper: 25 XP 


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