Videogame Studies Project, updated winter 2012 #342vs

[amended from Mark Sample]

The default final project for ENG 342 is a series of pages of at least 2000 words offering a critical interpretation of a videogame or of some phenomenon central to the social significance of videogames. Outside research and using sources from established scholarly journals and/or books are required.

Consider formal and narrative elements of gameplay as well as the dynamic between them. Remember that form includes rules, interface, graphics, music, and sound effects, while narrative concerns evocative symbolism, cultural assumptions, explicit or implicit ideology, and so on. Beware, too, the game's procedural rhetoric.

Which videogame and/or social phenomenon you examine for this project is up to you. A game as old as Goldeneye for the Nintendo 64 could be just as satisfying as...well, Goldeneye 007: Reloaded. There are plenty of top-notch indie games, too, and a good source for discovering them is Play This Thing.

The bare minimum number of scholarly sources for this project is five. Think of your work as entering the ongoing conversation about videogames, either generally or more specifically in regards to a title, a genre, or a common issue. Scholarly sources are necessary for understanding how that conversation has developed thus far. Your entrance into the conversation will be marked by clarifying or disagreeing with what’s been said before and/or by exposing a critical issue that has so far been overlooked. You may cite your sources in APA, Chicago, or MLA style as long as you are accurate and consistent.


Alternative Final Project
As an alternative final project, you are welcome to design your own (small) videogame, using development tools available online like MIT’s Scratch or Inform (if you're interested in interactive fiction). The content and design are up to you, but the game should be a self-aware game that incorporates, reflects upon, and even challenges what we’ve discussed this semester. If you choose to design a game, please run your ideas by me sooner than later. 

If you decide to pursue an alternative final project, you will also write an artist’s statement to introduce your game. This statement will be an essay of at least 1000 words that outlines the goals of your project. In your statement, please consider the following questions:

  • What were you trying to achieve? 
  • What effect or meanings were you after? 
  • What subtextual meanings were you trying to evoke? 
  • Why did the project take the form it did? 
  • What was your decision-making process regarding design? 
  • Why did you do what you did and how do those choices mesh with the themes or goals of your work? 
  • What difficulties and/or epiphanies occurred as you created your project? 
  • What would you do differently next time?

With your game and your statement, I’ll be looking for evidence that you absorbed and thought about many of the issues discussed this semester regarding play, games, ludology, procedurality, and so on.