STS 351: Understanding Video Games Summer 2020

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STS 351: Understanding Video Games Intersession 2020

Examine the potential of video games to entertain, inform, and challenge.


This course is specifically designed to be taught online!

There are no prerequisites required to take this course

What is the Understanding Video Games course?

This course examines the potential of video games to entertain, inform, and challenge. Computer games are a global industry. They are a vital medium for entertainment, social commentary, and creative expression. They are an essential part of education, training, and simulation. This course is specifically designed to be taught online!


The most popular games these days have a lot in common with their 2-bit ancestors. Players watch a screen and move things around with a controller of some kind. Games still have heroes and villains, epic quests and puzzles. There are patterns and processes to playing and understanding video games, and many of these have not changed.
As a player, you developed a literacy to understand games. This course is about understanding that literacy.

In this course we’re going to do three things:

● First, we’ll start with some basic terminology to get us started. We’ll work through terms like play, game, emergence, mechanic and story. And we’ll talk about how these terms relate to each other.
● Second, we’ll see how these concepts are used in theoretical frameworks to interpret games. We’ll look at quite a few different scholars, and how their theories make sense of gaming. Essentially, we’ll explore what is going on when people actually play a game.
● Third, we’ll use those theories to examine cultural aspects of games; things like violence, sex, and race. And, we’ll explore how these elements relate to each other and to society as a whole.