CMS.998 | Fall 2006 | Graduate
Videogame Theory and Analysis


This page presents the required readings, plus links to some supplemental material.



Buy at MIT Press [S&Z] - Salen, K., and E. Zimmerman, eds. The Game Design Reader. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780262195362.

Gee, J. P. Why Videogames Are Good For Your Soul. New York, NY: Common Ground, 2005. ISBN: 9781863355742.

Readings in these texts will be supplemented by other reading assignments for each class session. In addition, you should keep up with readings associated with your game: magazine/online reviews, bulletin board discussions and forums, fan-produced media and texts, online chats, etc.

Buy at MIT Press Raessens, J., and J. Goldstein, eds. The Handbook of Computer Game Studies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780262182409.

Buy at MIT Press Wardrip - Fruin, N., and P. Harrigan. First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004. ISBN: 9780262232326.

Reading by Sessions

L1 Introduction to the Course, Brainstorm Game Ideas, Introduce Key Concepts  

Looking at a Few Sample Games, Start to Talk About What Games to Play for Class

L2-L3 Histories and Definitions

Juul, Jesper. “The Game, the Player, the World.”

Wolf, Mark J. P. “Genre and the Video Game.”

Caillois, R. “The Definition of Play; The Classification of Games.” In S&Z. 1962.

Malliet, and deMeyer. “The History of the Video Game.”

The Dot Eaters: Videogame History 101.

Costikyan, Greg. “I Have No Words.” In S&Z. 1994.

Lab2 Lab  
L4-L5 Narratology and Ludology

Frasca, Gonzalo. “Simulation versus Narrative: Introduction to Ludology.” In Video/Game/Theory. Edited by Mark J. P. Wolf and Bernard Perron. New York, NY: Routledge, 2003. (PDF)

Juul, Jesper. “Games Telling Stories?”

Mateas, M., and A. Stern. “Interaction and Narrative.” In S&Z. 2000 / 2005.

Jenkins, Henry. “Game Design as Narrative Architecture.” In S&Z. 2004.

Jenkins vs. Aarseth video


The topics range from the relationship between story and game to the relationship between developers and academics, with discussion of the institutional situation of game studies programs as well. Henry has some great comments about spatial story and the relationship of games to other narrative-evoking environments; Espen’s discussion of the need for a diversity of approaches - not just “narratology” and “ludology” - is also quite good to hear. Espen even explains how game studies should take literary studies as a model! You’ll have to watch the video yourself to find out what the context is for this suggestion - it’s about 49 minutes in.


Taylor, T. L. “Gaming Lifeworlds: Social Play in Persistent Environments.”

Yee, Nick. “The Psychology of MMORPGs: Emotional Investment, Motivations, Relationship Formation, and Problematic Usage.” (PDF)

Ducheneaut, N., N. Yee, E. Nickell, and R. J. Moore. “Building an MMO With Mass Appeal: A Look at Gameplay in World of Warcraft.” Games and Culture 1, no. 4 (October 2006): 281-317.

Steinkuehler, C. A. “Massively Multiplayer Online Videogaming as Participation in a Discourse.” Mind, Culture, and Activity 13, no. 1 (2006): 38-52. (PDF)

Castronova, Edward. “Virtual Worlds: A First-Hand Account of Market and Society on the Cyberian Frontier.” In S&Z. 2001.

Lab3 Lab  
L8 Space and Place

Wright, Talmadge. “Themed Spaces.”

Steinkuehler, C., and D. Williams. “Where Everybody Knows Your (Screen) Name: Online Games as “Third Places”.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 11, no. 4 (2006): article 1.

Buy at MIT Press Justin Hall. “The Future of Games: Mobile Gaming.” In The Handbook of Computer Game Studies. Edited by J. Raessens and J. Goldstein. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780262182409.

Lab4 Lab  
L9-L10 Player Perspectives

Castronova, Edward. “The User.”

Taylor, T. L. “Whose Game is this Anyway?”

Bartle, Richard. “Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs.”

Koster, Raph. “Declaring the Rights of Players.” In S&Z. 2004.

Taylor, T. L., and Beth Kolko. “Boundary Spaces: Majestic and the Uncertain Status of Knowledge, Community, and Self in a Digital Age.” Information, Communication and Society 6, no. 4 (2003): 497-522.

Lab5 Lab  
L11-L12 Designer Perspectives

Birdwell, Ken. “The Cabal: Valve’s Design Process for Creating Half-Life.” In S&Z. 1999.

Church, Doug. “Formal Abstract Design Tools.” In S&Z. 1999.

LeBlanc, Marc. “Tools for Creating Dramatic Game Dynamics.” In S&Z. 2005.

Crawford, Chris. “Eastern Front (1941).” In S&Z. 2003.

Zimmerman, Eric. “Play as Research: The Interative Design Process.”

Buy at MIT Press Katie, Salen, and Eric Zimmerman. “Game Design and Meaningful Play.” In The Handbook of Computer Game Studies. Edited by J. Raessens and J. Goldstein. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780262182409.

Lab6 Lab  
L13-L14 Games and Learning

Squire, Kurt. “Game-Based Learning: Present and Future State of the Field.” Report to the Masie Consortium. (January 31, 2005).

———. “Video Games in Education.” International Journal of Intelligent Simulations and Gaming 2, no. 1 (2003). (DOC)

Gee, Jim. “Semiotic Domains: Is Playing Video Games a “Waste of Time?”.” In S&Z. 2003.

Steinkuehler, C. A. “Cognition and Literacy in Massively Multiplayer Online Games.” (PDF)

Innovate, Aug/Sep 2005 Special Issue

The Escapist, no. 9

Lab7 Lab  
L15-L16 Gender

Taylor, T. L. “Where the Women Are.”

Kennedy, Helen. “On the Limits of Textual Analysis.” (An analysis of Lara Croft.)

Jenkins, Henry. ““Complete Freedom of Movement”: Video Games as Gendered Play Spaces.” In S&Z. 1998.

Hayes, Elisabeth. “Women and Video Gaming: Gendered Identities at Play.” (PDF)

Consalvo, Mia. “It’s a Queer World After All: Studying The Sims and Sexuality.”

Consalvo, Mia, et al. “Women and Games: Technologies of the Gendered Self.” New Media and Society. (forthcoming publication)

Lab8 Lab  
L17-L18 Race and Representation

Always_Black. “Bow, Nigger.” In S&Z. 2004.

Gee, Jim. “Cultural Models: Do You Want to be the Blue Sonic or the Dark Sonic?” In S&Z. 2003.

Adams, Ernest. “Not Just Rappers and Athletes.”

Leonard, D. J. “Not a Hater, Just Keepin’ It Real: The Importance of Race- and Gender-Based Game Studies.” Games and Culture 1, no. 1 (January 2006): 83-88.

Au, Wagner James. “The Freeform Identity Bebop of Eboni Khan.” (Wagner James Au’s discussion of blackness in Second Life.)

Everett, and Watkins. “Now Representing: Games and the Learning Space of Race.”

Lab9 Lab  
L19 Game Cultures and Identities

Raessens, Joost. “Computer Games as Participatory Media Culture.”

McGonigal, Jane. “‘This Is Not a Game’: Immersive Aesthetics and Collective Play.” Presented at MelbourneDAC (Digital Arts and Culture) 2003. (PDF)

Turkle, Sherry. “Computer Games as Evocative Objects.” (Materials)

Lab10 Lab  
L20-L21 Videogame Criticism

Buy at MIT Press Jesper, Juul. Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780262101103.

Rouse, Richard. “Game Analysis: Centipede.” In S&Z. 2001.

Squire, Kurt. “Educating the Fighter: Buttonmashing, Seeing, Being.” On the Horizon 13, no. 2 (2005): 75-88. (PDF)

Gingold, Chaim. “What WarioWare Can Teach Us About Game Design.” (PDF)

Bogost, Ian. “Comparative Video Game Criticism.” Games and Culture 1, no. 1 (January 2006): 41-46.

Krzywinska, Tanya. “The Pleasures and Dangers of the Game: Up Close and Personal.” Games and Culture 1, no. 1 (January 2006): 119-122. VERIFY: THIS SESSION?

Gee, J. P. Why Videogames Are Good For Your Soul. New York, NY: Common Ground, 2005. ISBN: 9781863355742.

Lab11 Lab  
L22-L23 Student Presentations  
Lab12 Lab  
L24 Student Presentations (cont.)  
Course Info
As Taught In
Fall 2006
Learning Resource Types
notes Lecture Notes
assignment_turned_in Written Assignments with Examples