Course Syllabus


EAE 2700-001 Spring 2017 Intro to Videogames


Instructor: Matt Anderson, MFA

University of Utah

Spring 2018, H / 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM SW 134

Matt's Email:

Office Hours: By appointment only

College of Engineering Guidelines: COE Guidelines

Attendance Form: Game of the Day


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 40 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 (, 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.

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.

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;; 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.

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.

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.

* Debate Participation: 15%
* Homework: 30%
* Class Participation: 15%
* Game Critique: 20%
* Game Design Document: 20%

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.

Game Journals will not be accepted late. Other late assignments may be accepted with permission, however there will be 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: Jan. 11

  • Intro to class/major projects

  • Begin History of Videogames


Week 2: Jan. 18

  • Continue History of Videogames

  • Atari and the Arcade


Week 3: Jan. 25

  • Continue History of Videogames

  • The History of Nintendo and Sega


Week 4: Feb. 1

  • Continue History of Videogames

  • The Mid 90s


Week 5: Feb. 8

  • Continue History of Video Games

  • Prominent Eastern and Western Studios


Week 6: Feb. 15

  • Begin Games in Society

  • Intro to Academic Videogame Critique Paper

  • How to do a Close Reading


Week 7: Feb. 22

  • Continue Games in Society
  • Academic Lenses - Narratology & Ludology


Week 8: Mar. 1

  • Finish Games in Society


Week 9: Mar. 8

  • Hold the Great Debates


Week 10: Mar. 15



Week 11: Mar. 22

  • Intro to Game Design

  • Game Industry Roles


Week 12: Mar. 29

  • Game Design Documents

  • What is a Game?


Week 13: Apr. 5

  • Design Document Overviews 


Week 14: Apr. 12

  • Discuss Objectives / Flow / Difficulty / Level Design


Week 15: Apr. 19

  • Finish Game Design


Week 16: Apr. 26

  • Hand in Final Game Design Doc

Course Summary:

Date Details Due