Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Formal Properties of Games

UM LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course



DEPARTMENT Institute of Digital Games

DESCRIPTION The study-unit will focus on establishing students’ game literacy through exposure to key topics in game research. The study-unit is also a first step in establishing a theoretical toolkit for the critical analysis of games students will be expected to carry out in later courses.

On the theoretical side the study-unit views games as media objects, exploring their properties and associated theories in relation to other media such as film and literature. The study-unit thus treats subjects such as the relationship between simulation and representation, the cybernetic nature of games and the impact these perspectives have on issues relating to the game-as-object. The second focus of the study-unit is an introduction to game analysis. The theoretical topics mentioned above will be deployed as tools that provide a lens to analyze games critically from.

Topics include: Games and cyber-textuality, games and narratives, simulation and representation and rules.

The study-unit will combine theoretical concepts delivered through lectures with hands-on analysis during workshop hours.

Study-unit Aims:

To develop game literacy in the students following the MA in Digital Games and establish a theoretical toolkit for the critical analysis of games.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding::
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Have an overview of principal theories used in Game Studies;
- Understand the relationship between games and other media in relation to the theoretical topics covered;
- Have an awareness of the development of theories about games and their critical evaluation;
- Be acquainted with the implications of adopting certain key terms in games analysis;
- Understand the relationship between game and player.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Be able to critically analyze games based on theoretical models covered;
- Communicate their analyses in a coherent and well argued manner;
- Engage with game research in an informed manner.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Aarseth, Espen. Cybertext. 1997.
Callois, Roger: Man, Play and Games, 1961.
Huizinga, Johan: Homo Ludens, 1955.
Juul, J. Half-Real. 2005.
Salen K. & Zimmerman E. Rules of Play, 2004.
Wardrip Fuin, N. and Harrigan, P. First Person: New Media as Story Performance and Game. 2004.

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-Requisite Qualifications: First Degree in Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences or IT.

Unit offered at Post Graduate Level.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Seminar

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Sept. Asst Session Weighting
Take Home Examination (48 Hours) SEM1 Yes 100%



The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2023/4. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.