Course Projects/Designs & Evaluation
This is a collaborative course – encouraging experimentation, intellectual curiosity, and creative making. We will explore digital games and learning and digital games culture/s through critical engagements with course texts – and through ‘hands-on’ creative prototyping and design, including several in-class (virutal) game prototyping workshops and software tutorials.
- Attendance and Participation
Attendance / Contribution to the Critical Discussions: You will be expected to attend online classes, having closely read all assigned texts, with reading ‘meta-texts’ (annotations & notes, questions, critical commentary, personal connections, etc.) and contribute to significant & critical scholarly work. In-class game prototyping sessions and tutorials will enact theory from the readings and support intellectual productions and final project work.
- Intellectual Productions (55%): During the course you will be asked to set up a website where you will post entries on assigned topics and readings in games/play/learning/design and digital culture. Each assignment will correspond to the week’s readings and class discussions and activities. Written assignments may be multimodal (integrating images, screenshots, video-capture of play, etc.) to support arguments or observations, but please write well (in accordance with expectations for graduate level work). Intellectual productions will include everything from written critical reflections on readings to doing critical cultural studies analyses of games (and/or explorations of controversies and issues in game culture/s today) to experimenting with game-making software like Twine.
‘Game Design Project (40%) and Final ‘Work in Progress’ (5%) Presentation
You will be expected to develop and design your own digital game based on our theoretical readings and your own interests in games, technology, art and learning. Introductory-level technical instruction and support will be provided to create/design a ‘high-fidelity prototype’ with at least some ‘working parts’ (e.g., a complete level of game that must be actually play-able by the end of the semester); with some game software, you should be able to create a complete game, visual novel, or interactive systems (e.g., with Twine or RenPy).
In the past, students have created everything from self-contained games (e.g., in Unity, Gamemaker Studio, RPG Boss/RPG Maker) to transmedia games (e.g., integrating Twine and RenPy with other websites, media platforms and original video works) to experimental art games and interactive visual novels. There are also opportunities to consider machinima projects as well (integrating game systems and video making/digital storytelling).
The game design project will be marked using the categories which will be used for the final project presentation, namely: the process of development and creation; how you game enacts design, artistic, or critical aims and purposes; game ‘playability’, game mechanics and rules; as well as your theoretical ‘framework’ informing design, and wider general educational or critical aims and/or ‘procedural’ intentions (these terms will be covered in class as we go). Every game will be different, and to a large extent you will determine your own expectations through the iterative design cycle.
The final project proposal will be assigned in the course (based on a proposal document I will send) but the proposal will not be due until Class 6 (latest) (then I can provide constructive feedback and some suggestions). You can turn in the proposal earlier if you wish!
Game Design Project Proposal No more than 1 page (MAX!)
The Aim of the Game: What’s the central concept (premise) of the game (or the project)? Does it fit within a class or genre(s) (platformer; interactive fiction; machinima; empathy game; critical game; training simulation/serious game; experimental art game; indie game; role playing game, etc.)? Or in Bogost’s terms, what does your game “do”?
Rationale: Why does this game design project matter to you? (e.g., how does it connect to your interests or purposes)?
Tools and Technology: What media tools (software) will you use (or need to learn) to create your game. Genre/class of game will influence your choice of tools or (visa versa) comfort with tools may influence the type of game (or project) you might create. For example, you can create an interactive narrative (fiction), simulation, or empathy game with Twine or Ren Py, but a platform game etc would require other software, etc.
Timeline / Plan: Timelines for getting the project done (and if group work, roles and means for collaboration and project execution).
Showcase: On the last day of the class, we will have a virtual party and you will present your ‘work in progress’. You will demo the game and, again, your presentation needs to speak to your (collective) process of development and creation; how you game enacts the design, artistic, or critical aims and purposes that you established for yourself; discussion of how the game expresses ideas and theories from the course readings.
It is expected that all work on this project will be completed (games turned in) by no later than one week after the final class (pizza party / showcase).
This list is far from exhaustive! More as we go….
The grading scheme for the course conforms to the 9-point grading system used in graduate programs at York (e.g., A+, A-, B+ etc.). Assignments will bear either a letter grade designation or a corresponding number grade. If you have questions about grading that are course-specific, please speak with me.
Assignment Submission/Lateness: Proper academic performance depends on students doing their work not only well, but on time. Accordingly, assignments for this course must be received on the due date specified for the assignment. Assignments are to be handed in on your course portfolio/website (with an accompanying email to notify me), unless otherwise stated in class. Should you need to submit an assignment late, or require an extension, let me know with a week’s notice or more, if possible, so we can work together if you need support.
Absences: This course involves both theoretical and hands-on work with concepts and tools surrounding new media literacies. It is important that you attend every class, as you will often be working in groups and trying out different tools in class. If you cannot attend class, please email me and, if possible, inform a member of your group (preferably before class). An attendance sheet will be distributed each class, which you will sign to indicate you are present. If you know you will be absent for a class, please let me know as soon as possible so we can work together to ensure you can make up what you will miss.
IMPORTANT COURSE INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS
All students are expected to familiarize themselves with the following information, available on the Senate Committee on Academic Standards, Curriculum & Pedagogy webpage (see Reports, Initiatives, Documents) – https://secretariat.info.yorku.ca/files/CourseInformationForStudentsAugust2012-.pdf
- Senate Policy on Academic Honesty and the Academic Integrity Website
- Ethics Review Process for research involving human participants
- Course requirement accommodation for students with disabilities, including physical, medical, systemic, learning and psychiatric disabilities
- Student Conduct Standards
- Religious Observance Accommodation