Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Foundations of Game Studies

UM LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course



DEPARTMENT Institute of Digital Games

DESCRIPTION The study-unit gives students a historical background to games both as media and as an academic discipline. First the history and genealogy of digital games in various genres including RPGs and Wargames, MMOGs and console games is explored. It is important that students have a sense of where current titles originate from, not only in terms of their digital predecessors but also the longer history of physical games centuries old.

Following these introductory sessions, students will tackle the thorny question: what are games? Key concepts in understanding the nature of games will be discussed drawing both from classical theories of play as well as contemporary texts that address the constituent components and structure of games, digital and analog.

Sessions will be split into lectures and hands-on workshops where students engage critically with a variety of important games iconic of their genre and/or time. Students are also introduced to the wide array of game genres and academic typologies of games.

Study-unit Aims:

The study-unit aims to give students a background to both games as media and the discipline of game studies. It is particularly intended for those students who do not have any background in games. This will act as a foundation for courses that follow in the Design and Technolgy stream of the Digital Games MSc.

Learning Outcomes:

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

- Gain a solid knowledge of the variety of existing game genres;
- Be aware of the foundational concepts relating to the structures of games within Game Studies;
- Appreciate the history of digital games and their predecessors for both analytical and design purposes;
- Understand existing game typologies and forward their own typology that is analytically valid;
- Have an overall understanding of Game Studies as a field.

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

- Trace the origins of various game genres and identify design patterns and trends therein;
- Analyze game definitions that have been forwarded in the last century and construct their own definition or blend of existing definitions;
- Appreciate the basic components of games.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Aarseth, Espen. (1997). Cybertext. Johns Hopkins.
Juul, Jesper, (2005). Half-Real. MIT Press.
Salen K. & Zimmerman E. (2003) Rules of Play. MIT Press.

ADDITIONAL NOTES Unit offered at Post Graduate Level.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Seminar

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Sept. Asst Session Weighting
Take Home Examination (24 Hours) SEM1 Yes 100%



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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.