UPCOMING COURSE: “Video+Games+Other+Media” (Winter 2012, Chang & Kremen-Hicks)

An upcoming CHID focus group:

CHID 496 F: “Video+Games+Other+Media”
Thursdays, 1:30-3:20 PM
Winter Quarter 2012
Edmond Chang & Sarah Kremen-Hicks

In 1982, Walt Disney Pictures released Tron, one of the first movies to feature computer animation, to visualize cyberspace, and to be released with a video game product tie-in.  Roger Ebert’s Chicago Sun-Times review of the movie that year said, “The movie addresses itself without apology to the computer generation, embracing the imagery of those arcade video games that parents fear are rotting the minds of their children. If you’ve never played Pac-Man or Space Invaders or the Tron game itself, you probably are not quite ready to see this movie…”  Ironically, years later, Ebert would claim that video games, unlike films, could never be art.  Regardless, video games have left their marks on the culture and found their way into other media–film, television, literature, fashion, performance, even real world places and spaces.  As Henry Jenkins wrote in 2000, “The time has come to take games seriously as an important new popular art shaping the aesthetic sensibility of the 21st century.”

Our focus group, as part of a continuing series on video games generated by the Critical Gaming Project at UW, will explore the influences, intersections, and tensions between video games and other media.  Central to the class are the following questions: How and why are video games important?  How are video games and video game players represented, stereotyped, or vindicated by other media?  What are the possibilities and consequences of adapting or reimagining video games in other forms, mediums, and spaces?  To do this, we will read stories by Vernor Vinge, Orson Scott Card, Julian Dibbell, and Cory Doctorow.  We will watch movies like Tron and The Matrix.  And we will engage video game representations on the Internet, in gaming communities, and other technologies.

The course will meet once a week for 2 hours to engage reading, guided discussion, analytical and reflective writing, and some game play.  Students will be asked to participate in discussions both in class and online, write a review of a video game artifact of their choice, and make a short in-class presentation.

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