Advanced Workshop in Communication Media
Workshop: T. 1-4pm, Sequoyah 142, see schedule and policies
Office hours: W. 10:30am-12:00pm, Media Center / Communication 246
email: nwf [at] ucsd [dot] edu (email contact preferred)
paper mail: Department of Communication, 0503, UCSD
office: room 246, Media Center and Communication Building (MCC)
By the end of this workshop you will have created a complete game and/or simulated world. There will be other waypoints in between, but this is the main point.
Your final project may be created by you as a sole author, but I suspect the best projects will be collaborations (involving other workshop members and/or people you recruit). We will experiment with approaches to computer games and tabletop games -- but your final project can be created for the computer, the tabletop, live full-body performance, or any other situation or combination.
We will also read and discuss a range of texts about games and worlds -- especially in terms of how they express ideas and values. I'm looking forward to discussing these with you, because I think they're interesting in themselves, but I also hope they will provide interesting tinder for thinking about your project work.
Finally, some of our texts and activities will be included because they are part of the in-process "Values at Play" research project and curriculum. Our goal here is not only to learn what we can from this selection but also to evaluate it -- and hopefully provide feedback that will help it improve in the future.
It should be a full quarter, and a rewarding one.
- Play Between Worlds by TL Taylor
- A Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster
- Persuasive Games by Ian Bogost
- Gamer Theory by McKenzie Wark
- Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture by Alex Galloway
- You will need to purchase supplies for your game design projects, as required by your design
General Course Notes
- Agenda items. At the beginning of each workshop meeting we will build an agenda, which will drive the discussion for the remainder of our meeting. Each student will bring at least one "agenda item" -- a particular idea they wish to discuss. This idea must be grounded in at least one specific page reference (to a reading for that week) or reference to a specific portion or mechanic of a piece of digital media (e.g., Metaplace). Agenda items form an important part of the participation requirement.
- Grading. 35% of each student's grade is determined by participation in group critiques and discussions. Beyond this, each project is worth a percentage of the total course grade (5% for the VAP game video project, 20% for the VAP game design project, and 40% for the final project).
- VAP game design project. Due 05 & 12 February. The first stage, due 05 February, is to bring something playtestable to the workshop. It should be a prototype of a game, or part of a game, that embodies ideas in how it is played. The second stage, due 12 February, does not have to be a full game, or a formal game. But it must create an experience of "a series of interesting choices" and express ideas through its play structures.
- Final project. Due 19 February & 11 March. On the 19th you'll "pitch" your project -- which can be the same as your VAP project or another one. You'll explain the ideas, bring any helpful visual aids, outline the team you'll need for accomplishing your goals, and tell us how much of the team (from within or outside the class) you've already assembled. After the pitches, hopefully some class members will feel moved to help with each other's projects. On the 11th you'll be presenting completed versions of your projects. How far you need to get is something we'll negotiate for each project, as some game forms and concepts have different requirements from others. We'll do as much "check in" during the intervening weeks as seems helpful.
- Syllabus and course overview, group discussion, Metaplace tutorial 1.
- Get involved in Metaplace alpha forums and community.
- Discuss readings and Metaplace, more TBA.
- Bogost chapters 1-4
- MetaDesign101 Tutorial
- Discuss readings, "Values at Play" project (VAP). VAP cards, game design approaches.
- Bogost chapters 8 & 9
- Online: Saving the World, One Video Game at a Time, Clive Thompson, 2006 (web)
- Online: Videogames of the Oppressed: Critical Thinking, Education, Tolerance, and Other Trivial Issues, Gonzalo Frasca, 2004 (web)
- Handout: VAP materials
- Just glance at: Playing Politics: Videogames for Politics, Activism, and Advocacy, Ian Bogost, 2006 (web)
- Discuss readings, make plans.
- Bogost chapters 10 & 11
- Online: A game design methodology to incorporate social activist themes, Mary Flanagan and Helen Nissenbaum, 2007 (web)
- Online: Bias in computer systems, Batya Friedman and Helen Nissenbaum, 1996 (web)
- Online: Play as research: The iterative design process, Eric Zimmerman, 2003 (web)
- VAP game design project. Due 05 February (prototypes) and 12 February (playable).
- Discuss readings, show prototypes.
- Taylor chapters 1-3.
- Online: Do artifacts have politics? Langdon Winner, 1988 (web)
- Online: Using heuristics to improve the playability of games, Desurvire, Caplan, & Toth, 2004 (library e-reserves)
- Online: Jonathan Belman's game reviews (web)
- Discuss readings, present completed games, play games.
- Taylor chapters 4-6
- Online: Where are the missing masses? Sociology of a door, Bruno Latour, 1994 (web)
- Online: Manufacturing gender in commercial and military cockpit design, R Weber, 1997 (library e-reserves)
- Online: GameFlow: a model for evaluating player enjoyment in games, Sweester & Wyeth, 2005 (library e-reserves)
- Final project. Due 10 March
- Discuss readings, project pitches.
- Galloway chapters 1 & 3-5
- Discuss readings, more TBA.
- Discuss readings, final project check-in.
- Discuss readings, final project presentations, course wrap-up.