since 1965  (really?)

Video Games as an Artistic Medium

This course listing applies to a Spring 2011 course. To find current courses, check out the Find a Course page.

Spring 2011
English 98/198
2 Unit(s)

Human friendly URL (OBSOLETE)


About the Course:

Video Games as Art
This decal poses the question of whether Video Games can be considered an artistic medium as opposed (or in addition) to a consumer product. We will identify the traditional factors and ideals of art and artistic expression, and examine how initially rejected art and artistic mediums gradually gained greater acceptance, in an effort to determine whether Video Games merit artistic consideration. We hope to give our class a lively and informed discussion of the issues.

There will be weekly assignments that will prepare students for the upcoming class. Each will be a minimum of one page, double spaced. Up to three missing assignments will be allowed before a student must join the professors in office hours to discuss their work in the class. The office hours can be utilized to discuss various ways to make up for missing assignments (usually relating to the Field Trips, Film Screenings and Guest Lecturers section), and will be explained in more detail in class.  Students must have 10 assignments turned in and graded as satisfactory in order to pass the class.

For the purpose of grading, missing a class counts as missing a homework assignment.

Final Presentation
There will be a final due on the last day of class. Each student will join a group of four to five people to complete this group assignment.  Each group will need to do an in-class presentation critically analyzing a specific game of their choice as if it were art, and each member of the group must submit a minimum 2 page essay arguing that video games are not art, using their chosen game as their primary source. The final is required to pass the course.

There will be several reading assignments in this class. They will be used and referred to in our discussions, and will greatly enhance the understanding of the lectures. In addition to a reading list, there will be a list of games that will be used in our discussions at various times, and so it is recommended that students familiarize themselves with some of them. Although some will be to be purchased games, free games will be included as well.

Field Trips, Film Screenings and Guest Lecturers
There will be a number of events held outside of the schedule of class.  These events include visiting art museums, performances and exhibits, viewing films and documentaries at the UC Berkeley Media Resource Library and guest lecturer appearances by artists, art theoreticians and historians and video game publishers and developers.  Though not required to pass the course, it is highly recommended that students participate in these events.

There is a class blog where homework assignments, events and other announcements will be posted, as well as offering a forum for our students to have general discussion about the class.  The blog can be found at

Class Schedule
1.  Introduction to the Course
2.  What is Art?- Examining traditional and contemporary definitions of what constitutes art, as well as skepticism about the concept of defining art.
3.  Perspective- How visual, narrative and viewer perspective influences the role of the player.
4.  Level Design and Setting- The examination of both the physical/architectural and thematic structure of the video game world and its effects.
5.  Narrative- How the story of a video game is told in and its relation to game play and active participation.
6.  Sound- How audio stimulus is used in video games and its affects on game play.
7.  Mechanics- The history of video games in terms of mechanical innovation and how the stipulations of game play affect the player.
8.  Culture- The examination of cultural differences in video games.
9.  Horror- Examining how horror-genre video games function in order to induce feelings of terror and fear within the player.
10.  Comedy- Understanding the many different forms of comedy and examining how video games function as comedic mediums.
11.  Drama- How video games communicate emotion and induce immersion within the player.
12.  Public Perception and Video Game Communities- Understanding and examining both the public opinion on video games and how video games create a culture surrounding them.
13.  'Bad' Games- An examination of criticism and how video games are determined to be 'good' or 'bad'.
14.  Final Presentations

Class Structure
Class will be divided into three sections.  The first section, starting at the beginning of class, is Art Theory and History, which does not pertain to the day's topic.  This section is dedicated to furthering an understanding of the qualities of art; the terms and ideas presented in this section will be referenced in regards to the other two sections.  The second section is Cross Medium Studies, where the day's topic is explained in terms of traditionally accepted mediums of art.  This section serves to allow comparison between how traditional mediums of art affect or are affected by the day's topic with Video Games.  The third section is the main lecture, where the day's topic is explained in terms of Video Games.  We hope to foster an open discussion with the students in every section.

How to Enroll:

CCNs will be distributed to students on the second meeting of class.

Course Contact: videogamedecal AT

Faculty Sponsor: Natalia Cecire

Time & Location:

ClassRemy Karns
8060 EvansTu 6p-8popen

Uploaded Files:

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Course info last modified December 4, 2010. This page has been viewed 5594 times.

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