Understanding Video Games
730 days ago - October 19, 2015

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Great Coursera course teached by Leah Hackman and Sean Gouglas from University of Alberta.

Understanding Video Games is a 11 Week Course with great theory and practical examples of gameplay types, game theories, gaming culture and storytelling.

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Course Syllabus

Lesson 1: Introduction
In this short lesson, students will learn what to expect from the course, and will be introduced to our avatar creation module.

Lesson 2: Play and Games
Here, students will gain an appreciation for the differences between play and games. Game taxonomy and a definition of rules will be covered.

Lesson 3: Emergent and Progressive Gameplay
This lesson focuses on the difference between two major gameplay types, and how they impact our experience of video games.

Lesson 4: Game Mechanics
Students are introduced to the concepts of ludology, structuralism and the mechanics-dynamics-aesthetics approach to game analysis.

Lesson 5: Story and Games
We explore the concept of games as stories, as well as the importance of narrative in video game presentation. Campbell’s monomyth theory is thoroughly explained and applied to game stories.

Lesson 6: Interpreting Games
How can structuralist and post-structuralist analysis lead us to a better understanding of “how games mean?” This lesson will introduce students to a number of theoretical frameworks for analyzing games.

Lesson 7: Gaming Culture
Here students will be introduced to the concept of semiotics and how language is used in inclusionary and exclusionary game community practices. Indie game producers and modding groups are also discussed during this lesson.

Lesson 8: Violence and Games
Discussions around violence and games seem to go hand-in-hand. Why is this? What purposes are served by violence and its portrayal in video games? These are some of the questions engaged by this lesson.

Lesson 9: Sex and Games
In this lesson, the subjects of sexuality, gender and the portrayal of sex are discussed. In addition, there is a module on women in the game industry.

Lesson 10: Race and Games
The subjects of race and racial stereotypes are explored in this lesson. The student will discover that race and racial conflict drive gameplay and narrative in numerous game genres, yet is a subject seldom broached in scholarly discussions.

Lesson 11: Serious Games
Games can be used for teaching and training, and this genre is called serious games. Here, students will learn about industry’s co-opting of game theory and practice as they endeavour to engage their workforce. Methods of player retention are explored in this lesson.