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10/2000 Draft for SFSU

GameForms:

An Extended Introduction to the History and Modes of Video Games

Course Description:
What do you know about computer and video games? Any single game is likely to take up more of a player's time than any single movie or book, but video games are the least examined, most popular part of culture today. Beneath the flashy graphics and hackneyed scripts of today's games, there are some reoccuring forms and patterns. Understanding these basic systems is a critical part of understanding popular youth culture today, and the digital media of tomorrow. We will explore the basic history and game-types of modern video games. We will examine the relationships between story and interactivity, the evolution of game aesthetics and their relation to the types of stories being told. We will argue over the issues at the heart of the dominant forms of electronic entertainment.

Students can expect in-house lectures and guest speakers from the world of games. Screenshot slideshows will give aesthtic context. In addition, students will have the chance to play exemplary titles from each of the primary game genres. Students will be expected to play games for homework, and write about their experiences. In addition, there will be some readings assigned about the history and design of games. Students will emerge from the class with a solid video gaming overview and vocabulary, the framework necessary for further study of or participation in the world of games or integration of cultural elements of gaming in their other work.

Who should take this course:
This is an important class for understanding the future of digital media. Any digital storyteller, internet industry decision maker, and professionals developing sites or content for the young "Gen-Y" market could benefit from a sustained examination of modern gaming.

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