Layer I :: Millennial Games

Case Study: Portal (2007)

Tuesday, January 22

  • Fun, Play, Games, and Videogames

Thursday, January 24

  • Roger Caillois, Man, Play, and Games, pp. 1-35 (Blackboard)
  • Download, install, and begin playing Portal (Available on Steam for $9.99 for Macs and PCs)

Tuesday, January 29

  • Alexander Galloway, “Gamic Action, Four Moments,” from Gaming, pp. 1-38
  • Henry Jenkins, “Game Design as Narrative Architecture” from First Person: New Media as story, Performance, and Game, edited by Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Pat Harrigan (Blackboard)
  • To Play: Portal
  • In class: 24: The Game (Cut Scenes), Metal Gear Solid, Eternal Darkness (and this)

Thursday, January 31

Tuesday, February 5

Thursday, February 7

Tuesday, February 12

  • How to Do Things with Videogames, chapters 5-11
  • To Play: Budget Puzzle and Subservient Chicken (these are directly related to the reading from Bogost)
  • For the Game Journal this week (due Saturday 2/16): Pick one chapter from How to Do Things with Videogames and find a web-based browser game that would be a good example of the “thing” covered in the chapter. Provide an analytical (rather than descriptive) look at the game and explain how the game fits the chapter. Also consider how the game challenges the concept, or falls short of it, or other “things” that could be done with the videogame. Good places to find videogames are jayisgames, tigsource, and playthisthing.

Thursday, February 14

Tuesday, February 19

  • How to Do Things with Videogames, chapters 19-20, plus conclusion

Layer II :: Recent Past

Case Studies: Quake (1996) and Civilization II (1996)

Thursday, February 21

  • Galloway, “Origins of the First-Person Shooter” from Gaming, pp. 39-69
  • Mark J.P. Wolf, “Inventing Space: Toward a Taxonomy of On- and Off-screen Space in Video Games.” Film Quarterly 51.1 (1997): 11-23 (e-journal)
  • Presentation of Quake Dossier
  • To Play: Quake

Tuesday, February 26

  • Readings from Quake Dossier (on Blackboard)
  • To Play: Quake

Thursday, February 28

  • Jesper Juul, “Introduction to Game Time,” from First Person, available online
  • Presentation of Civ Dossier
  • To Play: FreeCiv
  • In class: Examination of Sim City source code
  • For the game journal (due by class time, March 5): Pick one brief passage from Galloway’s discussion of Civilization in “Allegories of Control” that you are having trouble deciphering and attempt to relate it to your own playing and understanding of FreeCiv. Bring copy of journal entry to class.

Tuesday, March 5

  • Galloway, “Allegories of Control” from Gaming, pp. 85-106
  • Readings from Civ Dossier
  • To Play: FreeCiv
  • No Game Journal this week

Thursday, March 7

Tuesday and Thursday, March 12 and 14 (Spring Break)

  • No Game Journal this week

Layer III :: Distant Past

Case Studies: Super Mario Bros. (1985) and Tetris (1984)

Tuesday, March 19

  • Presentation of SMB Dossier
  • Stephen Kline et al., “Electronic Frontiers,” from Digital Play: The Interaction of Technology, Culture, and Marketing, pp. 109-127 (Blackboard)
  • To Play: Super Mario Brothers

Thursday, March 21

  • Readings from SMB Dossier
  • To Play: Super Mario Brothers 2 and 3
  • For the game journal (due Saturday March 23): Play a non-Mario game from the VirtualNES site and write about the ways that game is similar to and different from other games you have played, in terms of mechanics, its use of space, and what makes it enjoyable or not.

Tuesday, March 26

  • Zack Whalen, “Play Along – an Approach to Videogame Music,” Game Studies 4.1 (2004), available online <>
  • Karen Collins, Game Sound, chapter 4 (Blackboard)

Thursday, March 28

  • Introduction of Tetris Dossier

Tuesday, April 2

  • Readings from Tetris Dossier

Layer IV :: Ancient Past

Case Studies: Pac-Man (1980) and Zork (1980)

Thursday, April 4

  • Stephen Kline et al., “Origins of an Industry,” from Digital Play: The Interaction of Technology, Culture, and Marketing, pp. 84-108 (Blackboard)
  • Evolution of visual realism in games: World Class Leaderboard (C64), Wii Sports (Wii), Tiger Woods 2014 (Xbox 360)

Tuesday, April 9

  • Ian Bogost and Nick Montfort, “Pac-Man,” from Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System, chapter 4 (Blackboard)
  • Introduction of Pac-Man Dossier
  • To Play: The Arcade Pac-Man, the Atari Pac-Man, and the NES Pac-Man

Thursday, April 11

  • Readings from Pac-Man Dossier
  • Last Game Journal Entry of the Semester (due by Saturday, April 20): This final journal entry is a chance for you to go back and consider what your game journal reveals about you and the way you approach videogames. Begin by going to your game journal and reading it from start to finish. As you reread your entries, take some notes about what you notice. Then, compose a final entry that analyzes and reflects on your journal. Some questions to consider might include: What do you usually write about in your entries? Are there broad themes or specific concerns that reoccur in your writing? Has the nature of your entries changed in the past twelve weeks? What changes do you notice, and how might you account for those changes? What surprised you as you reread your work? What ideas or threads in your entries do you see as worth revisiting? What else do you notice? What aspects of the game journal do you value most, and how does it show up in your entries?

Tuesday, April 16

Thursday, April 18

Layer V :: Restart

Tuesday, April 23

  • Anna Anthropy, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters, pp. 1-91

Thursday, April 25

  • Anthropy, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters, pp. 93-162

Tuesday, April 30

  • Jesper Juul, A Casual Revolution, chapter 2 (Blackboard)
  • No Game Journal this week

Thursday, May 2

  • Final Project workshop

Thursday, May 9 – Final Project Due