In this course, you will explore the designs, experiences, and value systems underlying games and the transformative, interactive way they tell stories. Games are made for fun, by a creative industry the products of which reach more than two billion players globally. As entertainment, they are part of a long tradition of other popular media and the stories they tell. At the same time, games are also seen as qualitatively different artefacts in their focus on experience, agency, and interactivity. Regardless, games have a profound impact on our lives and the societies and environments we share with others. To understand how games do what they do and how they fit in the wider media landscape, we need to learn to think with and through them. We will do so, together, by playing and reflecting on games and contextualizing the stories they tell.
Through this course you will come to understand how games take part in some of the major, mediatized debates of our times. This means that in this course we will consider big issues, such as how do we tell stories of pandemics, how do we relate to non-humans and our shared environment and how do games let us experience the ending of things, as well as foster hope? The core them running underneath this to understand how games and other media give us a way of staying with (or rather playing with) all sorts of trouble.
We will do so through six different, weekly themes. Each theme will consist of three main activities:
Contextualizing, which includes the use of video essays, academic texts from game studies and beyond, reflections and reviews from game journalism, and other media with the same theme.
Playing, including Let’s Plays (in class and/or on Twitch) and a game of your choice fitting that week’s theme.
Reflecting, through a weekly auto-ethnographic excerpt and short analysis of the game of your choice as well as in-class discussions and a podcast episode.
Please note that these activities will require a decent amount of self-study and planning. The course will be closed off with a final project in the form of a thematic review, in the form of either an academic essay or that of a piece of content for a high-quality game journalistic outlet.
During this course, you will
gain insight in, and the ability to analyze, the transformative power of interactive, digital storytelling.
gain insight in the ways in which games, in conjunction with other media forms, tell stories that allow us to make meaning of events on personal and societal scales;
gain a first and practical understanding of how game design and mechanics scaffold game experiences, and player value systems and vice versa;
learn to think with and through games and talk about them with others— including learning about auto-ethnographic excerpts, play as method, game design frameworks, as well as game-based essays, reviews, podcasts and live-streaming.
The timetables are available through My Timetable.
Mode of instruction
On Campus meetings; video essays; Let’s Plays in Class and/or via Twitch live-streams.
Podcast (collaboration; shared grade)
Play Notebook: 30%
In case of a resit, (alternative) assessments will be discussed per item with the lecturer.
Inspection and feedback
How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.
You will be able to find more information and materials for this course at Brightspace.
Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.
Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs
For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.
For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal Education Administration Office
This course may be fully online depending on the coronavirus regulations.
Just in case, please note the following:
We would use Microsoft Teams for all course communication during and outside of lectures. With the exception of Twitch, which would be used for Let’s Plays.
This class may have live classes via Microsoft Teams. Please make sure you have access to a stable internet connection and working microphone (webcam is non-mandatory). If you expect to have connectivity or hardware issues, contact the instructors before the start of the first class.