Course Syllabus

 FILM 2700-001 Fall 2017 Intro to Videogames

 

Instructor: Matt Anderson, MFA

University of Utah

Fall, T/H 12:25 pm to 1:45 pm, FASB 295

Email: matthewladdanderson@gmail.com

Office Hours: By appointment only

 
Course Description:
Video games represent a medium that is understudied and often misunderstood. This course takes a critical look at the cultural, artistic, economic, and social aspects of this 50 year-old expressive phenomenon. With video games now surpassing the economic impact of film, and with the global penetration of games into the daily lives of, in some countries, the majority of residents, there is no excuse not to study what may become the most important cultural and artistic development of the new millennium.

This course examines several aspects of video games through a variety of theoretical lenses. We will critically explore the history, cultural aspects of, and societal issues concerning video games. We will cover the growing academic interest in video games as well as industry interests, and we will delve into the artistic and design aspects of games.

We will also be exploring industry norms and how the game industry operates. In addition to learning how to study video games, students will also practice writing a variety of academic and industry documents. In order to do this we will explore various genres of games before attempting to design our own games.

Course Objectives:
Through readings, lectures, discussion and laboratory work, at the end of the course students will have a well founded, broad understanding of the sphere of video games as well as the tools to critically evaluate video games as media. Students will also understand video games in the contexts of mainstream industry, hobbyist and hacker subculture, and academic exploration. They will also be able to understand industry roles and how to write videogame design documents.

Required Texts:
Articles and games as assigned by the instructor. Most games required are available on Xbox Live, Playstation Network, the Steam Network or multiple online sources (greenmangaming.com, GOG.com etc.). I recommend setting aside approximately $80.00 for downloading these games. 

Optional, but excellent: Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, by Katie Salen, Eric Zimmerman

Teaching and Learning Methods:
Students are expected to fully participate in the class. Attendance at lectures, participation in discussion, as well as completion of all assignments is expected and required for satisfactory completion of the course. I also reserve the right to use a plagiarism detection service in this course, in which case you will be required to submit your paper to such a service as part of your assignment.

Attendance:
Due to the strict enrollment limit registered students must attend class at least one of the first two days of class in order to retain their spot. Students who miss those days forfeit their positions and must drop the class or risk earning a failing grade for the class.

Students who participate in officially sanctioned University activities (e.g., marching band, debate, athletics) will be permitted to turn work in early and/or make up assignments without penalty. Official absences must be documented at least one week prior to the absence.

ATTENDANCE FORM

ADA Statement:
The University of Utah seeks to provide equal access to its programs, services and activities for people with disabilities. If you will need accommodations in the class, reasonable prior notice needs to be given to the Center for Disability Services, 162 Olpin Union Building, 581-5020 (V/TDD). CDS will work with you and the instructor to make arrangements for accommodations. All information in this course can be made available in alternative format with prior notification to the Center for Disability Services.

Wellness Statement:
Personal concerns such as stress, anxiety, relationship difficulties, depression, cross-cultural differences, etc., can interfere with a student’s ability to succeed and thrive at the University of Utah. For helpful resources contact the Center for Student Wellness; www.wellness.utah.edu; 801-581-7776.

University of Utah Student Code:
The Student Code is spelled out in the Student Handbook. Students have specific rights in the classroom as detailed in Article III of the code. The code also specifies proscribed conduct (Article XI) that involves cheating, tests, plagiarism, and/or collusion, as well as fraud, theft, etc. Students should read the Code carefully to become aware of these issues. Students will receive sanctions for violating one or more of these proscriptions.

The faculty will enforce the code. Students have the right to appeal such action to the Student Behavior Committee.

Accommodation:
I do not offer content accommodations. If you find any of the course material offensive, you may opt not to participate acknowledging that you will not receive points for that section of the course.

Term Papers:
Two papers are required. The first is a critical game analysis in which students will choose one video game (subject to instructor approval) and explore either cultural, societal, or design aspects of the game. The second paper is a video game design document. Students will design and propose their own video game. In addition to the basic game design, the paper will mirror a professional game “design doc” identifying potential markets and publishers, in addition to other industry norms for this type of document. 

Formatting Standards:
All writing in this class must be handed in double-spaced with 12 pt. Times New Roman font and with normal margins. Papers with length requirements must meet the full length requirement in text, not in pages. For instance, if the assignments asks for five pages, and you hand in four pages and a fifth page with one paragraph on it, you will be docked for being three-quarters of a page beneath the required length. All papers (not game journals) must be submitted in MLA format.

Copyright:
Work produced in this class is copyrighted by the student. Continued attendance to this course constitutes permission for your work to be used by the professor as examples in courses, public lectures, academic publications, and other not-for-profit, fair-use practices.


Evaluation:
* Class Participation: 15%
* Debate Participation: 15%
* Homework: 20%
* Game Critique: 25%
* Game Design Document: 25%

Grade Scale:
* The A range is for excellent performance and superior achievement.
* The B range denotes good performance and substantial achievement.
* The C range indicates standard or average performance and achievement.
* The D range is for substandard performance and marginal achievement.
* An E is given for unsatisfactory performance and achievement.

I grade on a standard system: A=94-100; A-=90-93, B+=87-89, etc.

Late work will be accepted with permission only. There is a 10% reduction to the grade every 24hrs after the original due date/time.


Course Schedule and Content: 
**Note: The syllabus is not a binding legal contract and will likely change with appropriate notice. You are responsible to get those changes from this syllabus, your peers, or via class announcements.

 

Course Calendar

Week 1: August 22nd, 24th

  • Intro to Class and Major Projects
  • Begin History of Videogames
  • The Inception of Videogames

 

Week 2: August 29th, 31st

  • Continue History of Videogames
  • The Rise of the Arcade and the first Home Consoles
  • NO CLASS SEPT. 1st for PAX

 

Week 3: September 5th, 7th

  • Continue History of Videogames
  • Atari and The Great Crash

 

Week 4: September 12th, 14th

  • Continue History of Videogame
  • The History of Nintendo and Sega
  • The Second Golden Age of the Arcade 

 

Week 5: September 19th, 21st

  • Continue History of Videogames
  • The Emergence of Sony and Microsoft
  • Intro to Academic Videogame Critique Paper

 

Week 6: September 26th, 28th

  • Finish History of Videogames
  • Prominent Western Game Studios
  • Prominent Eastern Game Studios

 

Week 7: October 3rd, 5th

  • Start Games in Society
  • Introduce the Great Debates

 

Week 8: October 8th - 15th

  • FALL BREAK!

 

Week 9: October 17th, 19th

  •  Finish Games in Society

 

Week 10: October 24th, 26th

  •  The Great Debates!

 

Week 11: October 31st, November 2nd

  • Intro to the Game Design Doc
  • Game Industry Roles
  • Genre and the Video Game

 

Week 12: November 7th, 9th

  • Intro to the Game Design Doc
  • Game Industry Roles
  • Genre and the Video Game

 

Week 13: November 14th, 16th

  • Discuss Heuristics

 

Week 14: November 21st (no class November 23rd - Thanksgiving Break)

  • Discuss Objectives / Flow / Difficulty / Level Design

  

Week 15: November 28th, 30th

  • Finish Game Design

 

Week 16: December 5th, 7th

  • Class Overview

 

Week 17: December 11th - 15th

  • FINALS WEEK

 

Course Summary:

Date Details