Telecommunications | Topical Seminar in Telecom Media & Society
T451 | xxxxx | Castronova, E.

TEL 451 Game Analysis and Critique
(Topical Seminar in Telecommunications: Media and Society) Spring

Class Number: not yet available

Syllabus (Preliminary)

Instructor: Edward Castronova, Associate Professor of
Telecommunications Contact information:
Office Location and Hours: TBA

Course abstract. As videogames grow in importance for our culture,
we will need more and more people who can understand their effect on
us and where it comes from. This course is designed to prepare
students for two new social roles that are becoming more significant
every day: game analyst, and game critic. We find game analysts in
business, government, public policy, and scholarly research: people
who study how games are affecting their area of interest, as well as
how they might be used to do things like conduct training exercises,
perform experiments, or distribute information. For example, the
9/11 terrorists used flight simulator games to help prepare their
attack; a game analyst in the Department of Homeland Security might
analyze the current versions of these games (which are much better)
to see if they might also be used this way, or if they can be used
to train people to prevent such attacks in the future. As for game
critics, we find them at newspapers, magazines, museums, websites,
and TV studios: people who assess games for the fun factor (of
course!) but also for their aesthetic, literary, or cultural
messages. For example, the Disney Corporation has a game called
ToonTown that allows kids to meet up with strangers online and go
adventuring, throwing pies and rotten fruit at evil opponents
called "The Cogs;" a game critic would write a review assessing
whether the game is basically fun to play, and for whom; the critic
also tells parents what happens in the game, what kind of kids it
would be good for, what dangers might arise, and how the game's
developers have handled those issues. The course will be interesting
for anyone with a basic interest in games, and especially those who
realize that, in the future, people working in all sorts of areas
will be reading, writing, and thinking about games every day.

Prerequisites: None. While this is an upper-level course, it is open
to anyone eligible to take it. Familiarity with computers or
videogames is not required to do well in the course.

Format and meeting times: This is a seminar-style course, relying on
small group discussions of the readings and course material. Class
meeting times not yet availalbe.  Check the Schedule of Classes
through OneStart.

Grading: Grades will be based on three short papers (minimum 1500
words or 5 pages, 25 percent each) and class participation (25
percent). Two of the papers can be either a game analysis or a game
critique, where a game analysis is an assessment of a videogame from
a professional or scholarly point of view, and a game critique is an
assessment from an aesthetic or cultural point of view. There will
also be a take-home final examination. Class participation is based
on your overall behavior in class: attendance, plus whether you
contribute regularly in a friendly, respectful, sincere way.

Required texts and materials: No books to purchase. Students may
have to buy some games or temporarily borrow them from friends.

To see which requirements, in the College of Arts and Sciences, this
course will fulfill consult the College Bulletin at  If you have
questions, or need additional help, see your academic advisor.