Courses

In my teaching, I have striven to present critical perspectives on games, digital media, participatory culture, and learning. Below are sample syllabi and one informational website for select courses I designed and taught at Indiana University (since 2012) and Miami University (from 2010-2012).

COURSES TAUGHT AT INDIANA UNIVERSITY:

P674: Games, Play, and Learning (Spring, 2017; syllabus PDF)

A doctoral-level seminar/workshop on games, play, and incorporating approaches from game studies/media studies toward furthering the field of “games and learning.” An experimental course, this deviates from previous games and learning courses I’ve taught by putting a stronger emphasis on design than previous seminars, as well as pushing students to conceptualize “play” more broadly than it has been typically entertained by educational research. With attention toward “play” across multiple media, my goal was to help students create educational games that were better attuned to recent discussions in game studies than many application-based educational research discourses.

P631: Participatory Culture and Learning (Fall, 2015; syllabus PDF)

A doctoral-level seminar on participatory culture and learning. Building from Henry Jenkins’ and colleagues’ initial forays into participatory culture, we connected the study of online, interest-driven learning to research on interest, participation, and digital media. Students engaged in semester-long field research, building arguments for investigations of learning in online “passion communities” around their own interests (e.g., Star Wars fandom, critical videogame communities, online homebrewing communities).

P674: Designing For Playful Learning (Fall, 2013; course promotional site)

A doctoral-level seminar/workshop on “playful learning,” or recent initiatives toward making learning “playful” through the design of games. This course took more of a survey approach than later courses, attempting to characterize the history of games and learning research, while also broadening our discussions of games to include designer/developer discourses.

COURSES TAUGHT AT MIAMI UNIVERSITY:

IMS211: The Analysis of Play (Spring, 2012; syllabus PDF)

A foundational undergraduate course in interactive media studies, on the topics of game studies and game analysis. Taking an interdisciplinary media studies approach to games, we wrestled with disciplinary tensions in the study of games, while providing undergraduates their first experiences in analyzing game representation, game design, and ongoing participation in gaming communities.

EDL662: Digital Media & Learning (Spring, 2012; syllabus PDF)

A doctoral-level education seminar on the evolving field of “digital media and learning.” Based on early work funded by the MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning grants, we assessed the evolution of the field and developed insights on how the DML field might push our understandings of learning as embedded in media participation.

IMS/ENG238: Narrative and Digital Technology (Fall, 2011; syllabus PDF)

An undergraduate course in interactive media studies on narrative and digital technology (cross-listed with English). I radically redesigned this course to be one focused on interactive fiction — the creation and critique of digital, interactive media. Utilizing the interactive fiction platform Inform 7, students created experimental interactive, narrative media while developing sophisticated understandings of algorithmic and procedural approaches to narrative.

Please note, all existing course syllabi were originally online, dynamic documents. Some formatting weirdness may have occurred in translation to PDF form!

FUTURE COURSES:

I am interested in continuing to innovate my teaching, especially in terms of game studies and game history. The following courses are courses I’d like to be able to teach someday, in some fashion!

Experiential Game History (or “A Link to the Past”)

Level: Second- or Third-Year Undergraduate

In this course, students will engage with multiple approaches to digital games via personal engagement and play. Students will engage in critical literatures of game production and analysis, examining the history of the past thirty years of digital games through a platform studies approach to game analysis that addresses the technical development of hardware with the evolution of game genre. We will investigate the evolution of game tropes as reflective of evolving cultural tensions, and work through interdisciplinary approaches to experiencing the history of a play-based medium. To facilitate a common frame of reference, students will collectively go on a “deep dive” into a single gaming series — the significant and popular The Legend of Zelda series by Nintendo, comprising nearly 20 games since 1985. Through the critical play of multiple games in the series and through engagement with the evolving critical field of game history, students will develop understandings of how a focus on a single game series or genre can serve as a critical nexus for investigating the history of a medium.

Potential Texts:

Lowood, Henry and Raiford Guins. Debugging Game History: A Critical Lexicon. MIT Press, 2016.
Altice, Nathan. I AM ERROR: The Nintendo Family Computer/Entertainment System Platform. MIT Press, 2015.
Jones, Steven E., and George K. Thiruvathukal. Codename Revolution: The Nintendo Wii Platform. MIT Press, 2012.

Critical Game Culture Studies

Level: Upper-Level Undergraduate, Masters’ Level

In this course, we will engage with games as culture from multiple vectors. Drawing upon research in participatory culture and fan studies, along with related social, economic, and political concerns, students will engage with interdisciplinary research on gaming communities and cultures of play. We will have a primary focus on digital games (e.g., video games, mobile games, e-sports), as well as associated online channels of discourse (e.g., online forums, Reddit, social media, streaming services such as YouTube and Twitch). Topics will include: gaming literacy, spectatorship, game modding, “theorycrafting,” critiques of Gamergate, and other socio-technical aspects of games. A particular focus will be placed on critical work on representation and identity in game cultures, engaging with the ways game studies has interfaced with contemporary research on gender, sexuality, race, class, and ability. Students will engage in semester-long fieldwork in game cultures of their choosing toward the creation of proposals for game studies professional conferences (Digital Games Research Association and Foundations of Digital Games).

Potential Texts:

Ruberg, Bonnie and Adrienne Shaw, Eds. Queer Game Studies, University of Minnesota Press, 2017.
Gray, Kishonna L. Race, Gender, and Deviance in Xbox Live: Theoretical Perspectives from the Virtual Margins. Routledge, 2014.
Taylor, T. L. Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Gaming Culture. MIT Press, 2006.