Keith J. O'Hara


IDEA 135

Games at Work: Participation, Procedure, and Play

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This course is an intensive, interdisciplinary investigation of games and their pervasive role in contemporary life. What constitutes a game? Why do people play them? What makes digital games different from non-digital games? What roles do games play in contemporary culture? How have game-like incentive systems and other forms of "gamification" infused non-game contexts, such as social media, fine art, democracy, education, war, and the modern workplace? Do games and "gamer" culture effectively preclude, privilege, include, or exclude certain groups, identities, and worldviews? Course readings, screenings, and mandatory game play will augment and inform our investigation of these questions and beyond.

The primary coursework will consist of game creation using tools and methodologies from computer science and electronic art. Students will create original games (non-digital and digital video games), both independently and in groups. This work will be augmented by short assignments designed to build fluency in visual art creation and interactive game design through short exercises in coding in Javascript, visual design applications, and game design applications. Assignments will push students to develop experimental and critical approaches to game creation. This course is restricted to students in the lower college. Students with little experience playing games and/or a healthy skepticism about the cultural and artistic value of games are encouraged to apply. No prerequisites.