About This Course


In this course, we will play, critique, analyze, and design games as an exploration of the interplay between new technologies and society. We will consider how technological developments affect social systems, and conversely, how social systems affect the nature and use of technology.

Unlike many other classes you may have encountered, this course will be experienced as a Journey, wherein you are an Adventurer. By the end, you will have completed four Quests, developing skills as a critical consumer, an ethnographer, a game designer, and an entrepreneur. Throughout the Journey you will develop your understanding of games, their design, and potential for impact. Expect to have fun!

Please visit the Journey Game Board (course website) for essential details: http://edt460-2014-gamestechsociety.cgicourses.org/ or http://bit.ly/1t86ihn 

Learning Goals

In this course, we will work together towards achieving the following learning goals. Adventurers will…

  • Understand the bi-directional relation between technology and society, and that technology is neither intrinsically good nor bad; its utility depends on how it is used and the social contexts in which it is used.
  • Be able to discuss and apply key ideas in science and technology studies, anthropology, design, and business to the understanding of games.
  • Know how to consider games from an impact perspective: how games and their surrounding cultures shape each other.
  • Understand games from a Science & Technology Studies perspective: how games work as socio-technical systems, as designed artifacts with contested meanings for different kinds of users, as products of and challenges to the dominant legal, economic and cultural order.
  • Develop critical reading and analytical skills.

Individual learning trajectories to achieve these learning goals will look different. However, active participation and deep engagement with readings, classroom discussions, and community activities, clear and open communication, and a willingness to play and ask questions will play an important role in your success in this course.

Course Structure

This Journey is composed of four Quests. Each Quest is composed of one or more Missions, which have Challenges (tasks) that must be completed to progress in the Journey. Each Quest roughly corresponds to one week of the Journey. Because the Journey is subject to time limits, Quests must be completed within the week. The Quest for the following week will be made available at the end of each class, and posted to the “game board” the following morning.

Challenges will include the following types of activities:

  1. Playing or designing games
  2. Reading articles, blog posts, and book chapters (I have tried to limit this to less than 50 pages each week, in weeks where the readings are longer, they are significantly easier to read.)
  3. Writing (papers, blog posts and comments)
  4. Background research
  5. Presentations and participation in class

Public Discourse

This class is designed to be a dynamic discussion across multiple spaces—in class, in game, in blogs—with your peers. As such, what you write and what you say will be available for public examination. We will read and respond to each other’s’ work, talk together as a class and in groups, and play together in game. I expect you to remember that regardless of space, you will be civil and constructive. I also expect that we won’t always agree (indeed, I’ll even encourage it), but that arguments will always be respectful of others involved. Since you will be sharing your work throughout the semester with me and with each other, don’t disclose information you don’t want the class to know.

Design Studios: Collaborative Learning “Spaces”

While many of the activities in this course will rely on your individual efforts, this course will employ the notion of the design studio to support collective and individual learning. Design studios will be assigned by the instructor in order to balance backgrounds and interests for the purposes of the course. Each studio will consist of approximately four (4) adventurers. By working together you will support one another’s learning through cycles of rapid iteration on your activities. Each studio should set a time to review and provide feedback on each other’s work on a regular basis. It is through the rapid iteration of thought and action that expertise is solidified, and intuition cultivated.

Studios should plan on communicating either through the hosted studio (group) forums or using something like Google Hangouts or Skype. If your studio uses hangouts, Skype, or some other technology please retain a log of the discussion and email it to the instructor. These discussions may be used to bump a grade should it be borderline.

Details of how to operate the design studios will be discussed in class.

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