Upcoming Course: CHID 496 F: “Close Playing, or, Bioshock as Practicum” (Winter 2011)

Apropos of my recent post, here’s the 2-credit (CR/NC) focus group Tim Welsh and I are running next quarter:

CHID 496 F: “Close Playing, or Bioshock as Practicum”
Timothy Welsh & Edmond Chang
Thursdays, 1:30-3:20 PM
Winter 2011

CONSTANCE STEINKUEHLER argues that video games, particularly online role-playing games, are “a constellation of literary practices.”  Our focus group will take that idea and extend it to think about ways to read, analyze, and most importantly, play video games critically and analytically much like you would close read a novel or a film.  Before we can take video games as serious objects of study, we need to develop ways to study them.  In other words, how do you close play a video game?  How do you develop a practice of close playing?

THIS FOCUS GROUP, as part of a continuing series on video games generated by the Critical Gaming Project at UW, will discuss, develop, and do close playing.  Like close reading, close playing requires careful and critical attention to how the game is played (or not played), to what kind of game it is, to what the game looks like or sounds like, to what the game world is like, to what choices are offered (or not offered) to the player, to what the goals of the game are, to how the game interacts with and addresses the player, to how the game fits into the real world, and so on.  To engage all of this, we will take 2K’s critically-acclaimed first-person shooter Bioshock (Xbox360, PS3, PC) as our central gamic text (though other supplemental games will be included as needed).

THE COURSE will meet once a week for 2 hours to engage guided discussion, reflective writing, and in- and out-of-class game play.  There will be no formal paper requirements, but students will be asked to participate in on- and offline discussion and keep a weekly play-log (plog).

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