Fall 2012, Wednesdays 1:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Smith Warehouse, Bay 4, Room C104

Timothy Lenoir
Kimberly J. Jenkins Chair for
New Technologies in Society
lenoir A-T duke D-O-T edu
Smith Warehouse Bay 11 Rm. A231
919-668-1952 (office)
Office hours: TBD
Course email list: TBD

Patrick Herron
Research Analyst/Technologist
Jenkins Collaboratory
patrick D-O-T h A-T duke D-O-T edu
Smith Warehouse Bay 11 Room A-232
919-668-0276 (office)
Office hours: By appointment


Coursework and Requirements

Reading and Game Play
Students are expected to read and be prepared to discuss the reading assignments for each week's class. In addition there are a number of games selected from different categories of a list of "Greatest Videogames of All Time." Students are expected to play those games, at least to familiarize themselves with the content and game mechanics if not play them all the way to the end (which in some cases can become a lifelong commitment).

Examples of Class Videos, from Fall 2011
Please check out the archive for videos put together by our students from 2001 on our Vimeo site at http://is.gd/htggf11.

Each student in the class is required to collaborate on two presentations. The presentations are organized around the games singled out for close study in the class, such as The Legend of Zelda, Halo, and World of Warcraft, and others, including several social games. We want you to team up with a partner on these presentations, one partner being responsible for the media content of the presentation, while the other partner will be responsible primarily (but not alone) for the narrative. The roles of media coordinator and narrative coordinator are to be exchanged on the second presentation. A separate grade will be assigned for each role. We are providing facilities and software for high definition capture of game play as well as video editing and presentation software to construct your presentations. Instruction in the use of these tools will also be available, although we anticipate that most of you are already familiar with these tools and techniques.

The content of the presentations will vary, of course, depending on the game(s) under discussion for that session, and we want to allow you maximal freedom in presenting themes that you want to address. We expect, however, that the presentations will address themes from our readings related to issues of successful elements of game play represented in the game, reasons for its enduring popularity, where possible the history of the genre of the game, and the evolution and impact on gaming culture of a particular series of games, such as Mario Bros, Final Fantasy, or Grand Theft Auto. We would also like you to reflect on issues that are perennial topics of discussion related to games such as games and the encouragement/acceptance of violence, and gender disparities in games and game culture. One of the larger questions we will be addressing in the class is whether games as we know them can—in Jane McGonigal's terms—fix our possibly broken reality. We would hope that your presentation contributes to addressing this theme as well.

Final Project
Each student will submit a final project for the course. We are open to multiple forms of final project. Least encouraged, but completely acceptable, is a traditional essay with notes and bibliographic apparatus addressing a theme raised by the readings and games we discuss. A paper should be 15-20 pages double-spaced.

Another possibility for a final project is a creative project in which you create your own game mod of an existing game. We would allow collaborative projects on a game mod. Short of creating a fully functioning game (which is a LOT of work in a semester) we would encourage the design of a game in which you sketch out the game story using software such as Comic Life (http://comiclife.com/) or other tools—even a traditional poster board would be great. Another style of final project we highly encourage is a project similar in structure and scope to the presentations you will be giving. In the case of this style of final project we would encourage you to build on one of your presentations for class, expand and deepen it in consultation with us, and produce a "documentary" style final product.

Other possibilities for a final project can be worked out in consultation with us.

Grades for the class will be based on the following scale:

Presentation 1: 30%
Presentation 2: 30%
Final Project: 40%