Minor in Video Game Studies

Video Games represent a major cultural form that has eclipsed box office revenue worldwide.  Academic programs that examine games and interactive media are proliferating with the recognition that we must examine the role they play in our society.  Video games must be understood as meaningful systems that exert  both personal and cultural influence.  Video games are at once creative and aesthetic objects, psychological and social experiences, cultural artifacts, forums and modalities of interaction, platforms for storytelling and communication, opportunities for ethical and ideological inquiry, sites of (often problematic) identity construction, and instances of collaboration and creative interaction for an incredibly diverse international demographic.  This program brings together a wide variety of academic disciplinary approaches in order to apprehend the diverse qualities and effects of this multimodal object.   Such work trains students in interdisciplinary research and critical thinking about a ubiquitous media at the same time it prepares students for a wide variety of careers in burgeoning fields related to video games.

Program Learning Outcomes

Completion of this program in Video Game Studies will enable students to perform the following at the level of a minor:

  1. Identify elements, principles and techniques in game design and evaluate them. (Field I)
  2. Apply research and literary or other disciplinary theories in Video Game Studies to analyze or interpret video games as aesthetic forms, constructed narratives, or designed interactive engagements. (Field II)
  3. Describe aspects of the social, political, ideological or other historical contexts of video games or gaming practices, including such as aspects as the cultivation of critical perspectives on intersecting identities and the impact of games on communities; analyze at least once such aspect through an appropriate methodology. (Field III)

All of these PLOs will be met at the introductory level by our required course “Introduction to Video games: A Comparative Perspective.”

Each of these PLOs will be mastered, at the level of a minor, by a single course taken in each of the following fields. Each field directly corresponds to one of the PLOs:

  • Field I: Game Design  Students will study and gain hands-on experience learning the principles and techniques of designing and developing video games as creators (programming, scriptwriting, sound design, animation, musical scoring, etc.). (PLO #1)
  • Field II: Interpretation and Theory  Students will study existing video games as aesthetic forms, constructed narratives, or designed interactive engagements in order to arrive at discipline-specific conclusions about the qualities and significance of those designs.  This would include courses that examine genres of video games, undertake formal analyses and theorization of video games, or take up questions like the ethics implied by decision tree design or the representation of race in a given game. (PLO #2)
  • Field III: Reception and Impact  Students will study the historical and ongoing roles of video games on social, economic, political, and other grounds.  This field also deals with cultural phenomena such E-sports, streaming platforms, player communities, public or scholastic events, media reporting, psychological impact, etc.  It would cover the history of video games from any perspective (cultural, industrial, etc.), questions about demographics or distribution, economies of exchange, etc. (PLO #3)

Video Game Studies, Minor – 12 units minimum

No more than 50% of the total courses counting toward the minor may be lower-division. Courses may not be double-counted across requirements areas.

Students can petition to have other advanced courses count in the minor; petitions will be reviewed by the volunteer program coordinator or an advisor in the program.

Core Requirement (3 units)

CWL 180Introduction to Videogames: A Comparative Perspective3

Game Design (3 units)

Select one:

BECA/MUS 434Introduction to Sound for Games3
BECA 452Live Streaming and Content Creation for Esports3
BECA/MUS 534Sound Design for Games3
BECA 570Writing for Electronic Media Genres3
BECA 593Interactive and Transmedia Electronic Media Workshop3
DES 252Rethinking Digital Visual Media: History, Technology, and Content3

Interpretation and Theory (3 units)

Select one:

CINE 336Video Game Culture3
CWL 270Fantasy and Fiction: Exploring Parallel Worlds3
CWL/ENG 275Reading Video Games3
CWL 380Thinking with Video Games3
MUS 134Survey of Music for Film, TV, and Games3

Reception and Impact (3-4 units)

Select one:

COMM 595Games, Communication, and Culture4
CWL 380Thinking with Video Games3
MUS 137Survey of the History of Electronic Music3
CINE 336Video Game Culture3