COURSE: “Keywords for Video Game Studies” (CHID 496 I)

CHID 496 I: Focus Group: “Keywords for Video Game Studies”
Co-Taught with Timothy Welsh
Autumn Quarter 2010
TH 2:30-4:20 PM

IN 2000, HENRY JENKINS WROTE, “The time has come to take games seriously as an important new popular art shaping the aesthetic sensibility of the 21st century,” that video games do matter. But only within the last few years has the state of video game studies, either popularly or academically, found legitimacy and critical attention, pointedly the recent John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Digital Media & Learning Initiative, which “aims to determine how digital media are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life.” Given this recent proliferation of video games, playership of video games, video game technology, art and film inspired by video games, and scholarship on video games, the moment is ripe for interrogating this growing medium, art form, and cultural production and to produce a critical vocabulary for their analysis and discussion.

OUR FOCUS GROUP, as part of a continuing series on video games generated by the Critical Gaming Project at UW, will draw inspiration from Raymond William’s influential Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society and the new Keywords for American Cultural Studies book and website to identify and interrogate the key terms, the key moves, and the key players in video game studies. We will play a range of games alongside formal video game and cultural studies scholarship in order to investigate keywords like: play, control, immersion, interactivity, identity, avatar, violence, casual, hardcore, race, gender, sexuality, nation, and economy.

THE COURSE will meet once a week for 2 hours to engage reading, guided discussion, analytical and reflective writing, and game play.  This course coincides with the inauguration of the Keywords for Video Game Studies graduate interest group sponsored by the Simpson Center for the Humanities.  Students will be required to attend two working group sessions in lieu of two, regular class periods.  Students will be asked to participate in discussions both in class and online, write a review of a video game of their choice, and make a short in-class presentation.

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