Literature & The Cultures of Gaming Course (2015)

ENGL 250, Literature & The Cultures of Gaming, is an introduction to the critical study of gaming through literature, narrative, and theory. This course will explore the history of video games while examining the ways in which they connect to other literary forms, including the novel and comics.  In short, we will study game-based approaches to literature as well as literary approaches to games.

You can expect to gain a basic critical vocabulary for studying video games and literary genres while also learning something about their respective histories. Questions we might consider are: Are video games a “literary” art? What is “gamespace” and how does it differ from “bookspace”? What role does empathy play in reading and gaming? How is gender expressed in games and novels? How does new media alter our understandings of narrative and storytelling?

n.b. You do not need to own a gaming system to take this course–we will have “screenings” of pertinent games during class.

Required Readings

Coursepack (including readings from: Bissell, Extra Lives; Bogost, How to Do Things with Video Games; Hayles, Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary)

Literature:

  • Cline, Ready Player One (novel)
  • Coupland, Jpod (novel)
  • Donohue, Room (novel)
  • Gibson, Neuromancer (novel)
  • Kirkman, The Walking Dead, vol. 1 (graphic novel)

Assessment:

  • Quizzes
  • Participation
  • Midterm
  • Three-minute Video Essay
  • Final

Many thanks to Sean Latham (whose “Gaming Cultures” class provided the foundation for this course), Jennifer Airey, and David Chandler for advice, ideas, and syllabi!

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