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Faux Syllabus

In academia on June 7, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Introduction to Game Studies
3 units
Pre-requisite: Introduction to Cultural Studies (INTCULT), Introduction to Communication Theory (COMTHEO)
Pre-requisite to: Introduction to Ludology (INTLUDO), Hypertextual Narratives (HYPRTXT), Video Game Production (GAMEPRO)

Course Description

Just as communication theories are split between scientific and humanist perspectives — the former being positivist and the latter being qualitative, interpretive and critical in its approach — all scholarly endeavors on the subject of games are also split in the same schema. On one hand, we have the quantitative field of game theory pioneered by economists like John Nash or Robert Axelrod. On the other hand, we have game studies, which is a hybrid of cultural and communication theory.

The field of game studies has two traditional methodologies: narratology and ludology. The perspective of narratology proceeds from the assumption that the textuality of games is narrative in nature (i.e. that they are merely stories). Ludology, however, is an attempt to break from this tradition of narrativism and to conceptualize “game” as something else other than a story (e.g. game as a simulation). Ludology is useful when analyzing games like Pacman, Bantumi, Snake or any game whose textuality mereley consists of rules. For this course, we will center our attention on the praxis of storytelling, particularly the narratology of console role-playing games (RPGs), whose formal content are the novel and the film. The topic of ludology is reserved for another course.

Course Objective

To have a critical overview of the communicative aspects of computer games.

Course Outline

1. On what constitutes “gameness”
2. Meta-game-physics
3. Marshall McLuhan’s tetrad of media effects (as applied to the video game medium)
4. Story-living / on ergodic literature
5. The dynamics of agency
6. Hyperreality (Jean Baudrillard and Umberto Eco)
7. Elements of representation: the audio-visual interface and narration
8. Elements of simulation: complexity of controls, game goals, character and object structure, balance between user-input and preprogrammed rules, and spatial properties of the game world
9. Rules of play / game design / narrative architecture
10. Cultural framing of cyberdrama
11. The player with a thousand faces
12. Principles of narratology / ludologic studies
13. Mediality and metalepsis
14. Remediation
15. Interactive textuality

Course Requirements

1. The student is required to play and finish at least one console role-playing game from the Playstation 1 and 2 platforms before the midterm examination. All equipment are provided in the Gaming Laboratory (G412). A 20-page analysis is to be submitted before the finals. The suggested titles are:

a. Any title from the Final Fantasy series (exclude the tactical genre and MMORPG)
b. Valkyrie Profile
c. Suikoden II or Suikoden V
d. Wild ARMs
e. Legend of Legaia
f. Xenogears
h. (Your own choice, subject to professor’s approval)

2. Read the assigned scholarly article every week.

3. There are quizzes everyday based from the readings.

4. Submit exercises every week.