Games and Play

MDST3704: Games and Play
Meets: Tuesday/Thursday 11:00AM – 12:15PM
Spring, 2019

Games and play surround us. Whether as hobbies, entertainment, sports, instructional tools, or as simply as frameworks for looking at everyday life, games and play are fascinating lenses by which we can understand popular media through culture, politics, and social movements. In this course, students will begin to learn about the evolution of the field of “game studies” while also questioning what we think we know about “play.”

Students will play games in the course and learn how to interrogate their own play, their own positions as players, as well as formally analyzing games. As part of the course, students will regularly read and then implement prescriptive game design concepts, in order to understand both how games are made as well as discourses of design. In the last section of the course, students will engage in small analysis and observation projects, leveraging what they’ve learned about games so far in order to understand gaming as it’s lived in everyday life.

While much of the course will rely on the existing literature based around digital games, there will be opportunities for students to discuss a wide range of things we call games (including board games, card games, and playground games)



Key course textbooks will include The Game Design Reader and Colleen Macklin and John Sharp’s textbook Games, Design, & Play. Students who have little game play or game design experience are welcome in the course, as are students who are interested in the design of games. This course attempts to cover research on games and play that can be beneficial for students who are interested in understanding media as well as for those who are interested in computation and the engineering of digital games.

FYI, here is the Fall, 2018 course syllabus — please note, there are always significant changes from semester to semester, but this should give an idea of what the course covers and how it runs.

If you have any questions about this or any other course (or anything else on this website), please don’t hesitate to email Dr. Duncan at his first name dot his last name [at] virginia.edu.