ISIS 210. How They Got Game.
History and cultural impact of interactive simulations and video games. Evolution of computer and video game design from its beginnings to the present: storytelling, strategy, simulation, sports, 3D first-person games. Cultural, business, and technical perspectives. Insights into design, production, marketing, and socio-cultural impacts of interactive entertainment and communication. Instructors: Lenoir
Coursework and Requirements:
Grading for the course will be based on evaluation of 4 types of assignment:
- Class participation and attendance (10% of total course grade)
Students are expected to attend all classes and prepared to discuss the readings and other course materials. All students are expected to participate in the group class project (see group project description below).
- Digital Diary (15% of total course grade)
Each student will be required to maintain a digital diary, preferably posted as a blog to the entire Game2Know Focus group (17 students plus professors). Your digital diary (blog) will be a weekly posting of approximately 250-300 words (3-4 paragraphs) reflecting thoughtfully and critically upon the readings for the week. The posting should not be a summary of the reading. Rather you should use this opportunity to reflect and comment upon the issues raised in the readings. You need not comment on each reading. A substantial commentary on one or more of the articles or issues treated in the readings is what we are expecting to see. Your blog postings will be graded on the quality of content and imagination displayed in your commentary. In addition to your own commentary, we want you to provide links to at least one outside source you think useful for expanding the discussion. Blog postings are due by Friday noon of each week.
We encourage you to read and engage the comments of other students by posting your reactions to their blogs as well.
- Two (2) Podcasts (20% each of total course grade)
Each student in the course will receive an Apple 5th generation video iPod for use in the course. In addition to accessing course content on the iPod, you have two assignments to complete using the course technology. Each student is to prepare one podcast presentation prior to midterm and a second podcast presentation during the second half of the semester. The podcast should be a presentation of some interpretive issue related to the readings for the week and illustrated in the game we have chosen for game play in our Thursday session. You can use a variety of means to make your point in the podcast. For instance you can create Powerpoint/Keynote slides that accompany your commentary. Commentary on specific issues related to the game should include a game clip illustrating your point. For instance, you might want to discuss the problems of objectionable violent or sexual content in games, such as Grand Theft Auto by demoing the “hot coffee” segment not released in the official version of the game. Other types of issue you might treat could be the role of player-produced game mods in driving new content and new features in games. The points you want to make should be illustrated by game clips and included along with your podcast as additional material or (preferably) as video content in you video podcast. (Hey! That’s what the 5th generation iPods are for!) The podcast should not exceed 10 minutes in length. The podcast is to be posted to the class by midnight on Wednesday evening prior to the game play session you are leading. Discussion of your podcast will introduce the Thursday session.
- Group Class Project: (part of course participation grade)
Host an event within the Second Life space. Assign roles to each other to do research into leasing space in the virtual world, to pick an event or speaker you wish to present in SL, and to create a presentation about what the event represents and your experiences. There will be several mini-discussions throughout the semester to discuss progress and provide any assistance.
- Final Project (35% of total course grade)
Students can choose from a variety of options for their final projects:
1. Write an analytical paper, 15-20 pages in length, addressing one of the themes of the course, such as gender bias in games, the importance (or insignificance of) plot and narrative structure in games. We can provide examples from previous students upon request.
2. Do a case study of the development of an RTP game company, such as Virtual Heroes located in Cary or Red Storm Entertainment, another famous firm located in Morrisville, NC. Do an ethnography of game production by interviewing the team responsible for game development.
3. Form a team and create a game mod of Doom or another game.
4. Create a machinima movie exploring a theme in the course.
5. Put together a game photoessay or photonarrative exploring a topic that strikes you.
6. Explore some social dynamic in MMORPGs. Do certain aspects of MMORPGs imitate life? Do MMORPGs become real world enough to teach real world lessons?
7. Design a game: write the story, describe the rules and gameplay, and create images of what it would look like.
8. What elements could be introduced into games to address the criticism that they are simply a fun way of wasting time, and make them more beneficial to players? For example, some games require basic coding in order to use more advanced features and introduce people to scripting. Could games make use of more real-world information to educate players about current events or other topics? Explain how these elements would be introduced, how frequently players would interact with them, and how you would keep them from detracting from the gameplay.
9. Extend your understanding of the technical underpinnings of one or more game systems by exploring the challenges of preserving dynamic environments and the game experience. This project would look for lessons that digital artists and curators of digital art are learning as they try to capture and preserve digital artworks.
Other options are possible, limited only by your imagination!