This course will take a critical look at video games, scrutinize their contexts and content and analyze their impact on players, audiences, culture and society. Video games have become the fastest growing mass media in less than half of a century. However, though notoriously popular, video games are probably the least understood, theorized and explored media. We will embark on a critical analysis of the theories and debates that pervade video game studies. We will start by situating video games in the context of media studies but we will also take a cross-disciplinary look at various concepts that attempt to explain what video games are, what they do for their audiences and how they impact their players. While reflecting on concepts such as race, class, identity and gender, we will also position video games as a social phenomenon and analyze the cultures they create. Last but not least, this course will take issue with popular misconceptions about video games.
NB: This course does not require that students have had any previous exposure to video games. However, during the course students are expected to allocate time outside class and take a serious interest in playing video games, reading about them and sharpening their critical skills in order to contribute their analyses to the field of video game studies.
Prerequisite: 3 credits CMNS or 2nd year standing