During this course we will explore stories of the COVID-19 crisis together, by studying games and play in its context. We will play, read, view, and listen to stories of crises past and present across media, ranging from deeply personal experiences to collective memory-making. The starting point of this is the playing, analyzing, and discussion of a series of games and supportive texts that have taken on a special significance in this time of crisis. This contextualization will be taken further by you individually in a series of reflections, in which you will be aided by a range of tools from game and media studies. It will end with a playful/creative project, together with a reflective essay, based on one of the themes.
Games shape and are shaped by a broader cultural texture and resonate in unique yet synergetic ways with historical and present narratives. This COVID-19 crisis-driven game studies course will show how games are part of a collection of storytelling and meaning making practices, distributed through a range of media.
In this 6-week course we will look at how the COVID-19 crisis and games intersect and are transmediated. We will do so through six different story themes:
Isolation: by playing Solitary Spacecraft and Solitaire as well as analyzing other texts we will look at how different media forms represent or have provided outlets for humans in isolation.
Pathogens: by playing Plague Inc. and analyzing other media about agents of disease, we will analyze how we tell stories about humankind’s deadliest enemy.
The State: through playing Tom Clancy’s The Divison 2 we will look at how conservative media as well as subaltern texts conceive of the role of the state during crises.
The Economy: through the supposedly carefree Animal Crossing: New Horizons we will discuss how one of the most pervasive story-drivers of our modern times, the Economy, is never far away, especially during a crisis.
Playgrounds: how does one play during a serious crisis? We will delve into how Minecraft and other playgrounds, provide room for stories of exploration and creativity.
Life after Crisis: what should life after (the COVID-19) crisis look like? We will experience and discuss games and other texts that have been contributed by you because they fill you with hope.
Each theme will consist of three main activities:
a. Thematic lecture
b. Academic texts
c. Thematic materials (books, newspapers, video, podcasts, etc.)
a. Play a selection of games yourself and/or
b. Watch and discuss along during a live-stream (via VALUE on twitch.tv/valuefnd) in which the course lecturers play (parts of) the selected games and/or
c. Find and watch other supporting materials for the selected games.
3. Reflect, using e.g.:
d. Interactive Narratives
During this course, you will
gain insight in, and the ability to analyse, the intertextual relations between video games and other media in times of crisis.
gain insight in the differences between media-specific forms of narration, and the ability to analyze the different forms.
gain insight in the ways in which games, in conjunction with other media forms, provide room for making meaning of events on personal and societial scales;
come to understand more about the role of games and play in this and other crises;
gain a first understanding of how game mechanics scaffold storytelling and vice versa;
learn about and use some of the tools for creating and analyzing game-based stories, including Jenkins’ ‘narrative architecture’ framework, play as method, auto-ethnography, interactive narratives, and live-streaming.
Mode of instruction
Kaltura LiveRoom and/or Teams; video lectures; Twitch live-streams
Play in Crisis Project (based on one of the course themes you will create a playful project, contextualized with a reflective essay).
Play in Crisis Project: 60%
Play in Crisis Project (60%) and Oral Exam (40%)
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 uSis for classes, exams and final papers is mandatory. This class will allow for a maximum of 40 participants. Priority is given to students of the Game Studies Minor.
General information about uSis is available on the website.
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
This course may be fully online depending on the coronavirus regulations and cohort size/make-up.
Just in case, please note the following:
We will use Microsoft Teams for all course communication outside of lectures.
This class will have live classes via Microsoft Teams and/or Kaltura. 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.
For more information please check the website of the study program Film and Literature Studies.