I’m in the process of developing a new course which I’m tentatively titling Histories of Games. This particular section of the course will focus on helping students understand and contextualize game history as an important media history of the past 35 years, with the through-line being Nintendo’s popular The Legend of Zelda game series.

As a course overtly focused on history, we will cover industrial histories, play/player histories, and genre histories over this period. We will tie into academic discussions of “platform studies,” or the ways we consider the hardware and software substrates that afford and constrain media, as well as the development of gaming interfaces over this period. Our focus being Zelda will also entail becoming familiar with Japanese game industries, the evolving process of development at Nintendo, the rise of Zelda (and other Nintendo franchises) as globally-impactful transmedia enterprises, as well as the development of Nintendo fandom during this period.

The course will also involve a great deal of first-hand play and collective critique of at least six different Zelda games. Using original hardware when possible, we will take an “experiential game history” approach to this course, developing our understandings of the history of these media through play. Students will be then tasked with applying the methodologies they’ve encountered through multiple looks at Zelda toward an understanding of a different gaming franchise.

Registering for this course will likely be only via instructor approval, in order to ensure that students are prepared for the complex combination of play, critique, and scholarly engagement that the class will require.

This course is not yet approved, but is in development. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact Dr. Duncan at his first name dot last name at virginia period edu.