As we find possible research topics for the course, we should post them. This one came courtesy of @BrentaBlevins. from a Wired article
“Fucking dumb bitch,” the message began, then went on to detail the manner in which Jenny Haniver should be sexually assaulted and murdered. Haniver (her gaming name, not her real one) found it in the voicemail of her Xbox account, left by a male competitor in the online combat game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. For Haniver, this was far from an isolated incident. In another match, after an opponent asked if she was menstruating and opined that “girls” played videogames only for attention, he left Haniver a voicemail that said, “I’m gonna impregnate you with triplets and then make you have a very late-term abortion.” For three and a half years, Haniver has kept track of the invective heaped on her in multiplayer games, posting some 200 incidents on her blog so far.
On the one hand video games are clearly for purposes of entertainment and commerce. But can there be other purposes for video games? Can they help us learn? Can they offer new ways to work? Can they be a form of social or political action? Can they help us solve problems in the world?
When you read the syllabus you’ll encounter a little quirk in the way this course works: the grading contract. Maybe you’ve been in a class with a grading contract before. Though they aren’t a common approach, professors have been using grading contracts since the 60s.
This is the site for a summer online course on video games at the University at Buffalo. Our course begins in 12 days, on Tuesday May 27th. Right now I am just setting up our course site so it will be ready to go.
Here’s the course description.
Since the appearance of the Atari 2600 video game console in 1977, video games have become an increasingly common feature of our lives. Today, we play games on our televisions through more advanced consoles, dedicated handheld devices, personal computers, and on our mobile phones. We play games online with millions of co-players, in augmented reality, and with our bodies without controllers. In other words, video games have proliferated and mutated into a vast ecology of media, interactivity, and genre. Over the last 20 years, the interdisciplinary study of video games has developed into a full-blown area of scholarly practice, including many practices with their origins in English and the humanities (as well as other methods from the social sciences, computer science, engineering, and other fields).
This online course will introduce the methods and foundational scholarship in games studies. We will play a number of games ourselves (you will not be required to purchase any specific games or devices, other than what is typically needed to participate in an online class). In addition to developing an ability to analyze and interpret video games, we will also discuss the potential social and cultural uses of video gaming beyond entertainment. Readings will include Ian Bogost’s How To Do Things With Videogames, Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken, and other essays. Course work will include online discussions, reading responses, and a final research project.
an investigation of the cultural, aesthetic, and rhetorical operation of video games