CMS.300 | Fall 2011 | Undergraduate

Introduction to Videogame Studies


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Lab: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

Course Summary

This course is an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of videogames as texts through an examination of their cultural, educational, and social functions in contemporary settings. Students will play and analyze videogames while reading current research and theory from a variety of sources in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and industry. The course requires regular reading, writing, and presentation exercises. It is open to students from all disciplines and levels of experience. Students taking the graduate version will complete additional assignments.

Course Strategies

The goal of the course is to foster critical thinking with respect to videogames and their context. Through the discussion of a variety of theoretical approaches, in the context of a variety of videogames, students will gain insight on the properties and potential of the medium and its socio-­cultural implications. Another goal is to expose students to games that they may not be familiar with, to extend and challenge their perceptions of what videogames are. The lecture sessions will be devoted to discussion of the assigned readings; the lab sessions will be dedicated to communal game playing and presentations.

Requirements and Grading

The grading for this course is based on discussion of basic concepts, analysis, class participation, presentations and written assignments. Students will be expected to read the corresponding articles and book chapters and play games in preparation for class discussions.

Class participation and in-class preparedness 15
Written Assignment 1 10
Written Assignment 2 15
Mid-term 20
Group Presentation 10
Written Assignment 3 30


There will be a series of assignments that make up 85% of the grade. Please see the Assignments page to learn more about them.

Attendance and Extensions Policy

Regular and timely attendance is required to pass the course—not only does it affect the class participation grade, but the assignments also address issues that will be discussed in class. More than three unjustified absences will result in one letter grade less in the final grade.

Assignments are due on specific dates; extensions will only be granted if requested one week in advance. Late assignments will be discounted a 10% of the total grade. This discount can be the difference between a B and a C; the deadline should not be taken lightly. Assignments submitted 3 days after the deadline without having required an extension will receive an F.


1   Introduction to the Course    
2 2 Defining Games    
3 3 Defining Games (cont.) PLAYGROUND GAMES  
4 Games as Digital Media    
4 5 Games as Cybertexts Early Videogames Written Assignment 1 due
6 The Social Contract of Games    
5 7 Cheating Introduction to Game Analysis  
8 Player Experience: Agency    
6 9 Games as Narrative   Written Assignment 2 due
7 10 Player Experience: Immersion Interfaces and Immersion  
11 Types of Players    
8 12 Hardcore vs Casual Players   Mid-term Exam
13 Identity    
9 14 Representation Home Computer Games Review  
15 Games as Systems    
10 16 Fictional Worlds   Group Presentations
17 Games as Simulations    
11 18 Game Spaces Game Spaces  
19 Games as Performance    
12 20 Value Systems Serious Games  
13 21 Game Aesthetics La Mulana: Background and Influences  
22 Criticism and Journalism    
14 23 Game Culture: Communities Guest Lecture  
24 Game Culture: Violence   Written Assignment 3 due

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2011
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Written Assignments