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Educators Summit: One Quarter, One Game: Approaches to Teaching a Single Game Seminar

Patrick LeMieux  (Assistant Professor, University of California, Davis)

Stephanie Boluk  (Associate Professor, University of California, Davis)

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass

Topic: Educators

Format: Lecture

Vault Recording: TBD

Audience Level: All

The Odyssey and Ulysses, Beowulf and Moby Dick, Gravity's Rainbow and Infinite Jest, The Bible and Capital. In the humanities there is a long history of "big book" seminars—classes that focus on a single text, its surrounding literature, and its greater historical and cultural impact. How would a class like that function in a game studies and game design context?

Since 2015, University of California, Davis' Stephanie Boluk and Patrick LeMieux have been teaching quarter-long classes studying a single piece of software, like Super Mario Bros., Doom, Final Fantasy VII, and Kentucky Route Zero. In this session, they will share their methods, results, and conclusions after teaching one game, one quarter.

Notably, they have found that, by selecting a game with a diverse community of players, constraining the subject matter to produce expertise, then deploying this knowledge as a lens to think about technology and culture, students emerge from our single game seminars with markedly higher technical, historical, philosophical, and design proficiencies than more general surveys.

Takeaway

Attendees will learn the risks and rewards of teaching games and game design when the goal is depth and not breadth. After looking at both historical and contemporary examples of classes focused on a single book, album, or game, Stephanie and Patrick will share their syllabi, survey student work, discuss what went wrong and what went right after teaching single-game seminars for half a decade.

Intended Audience

This is for educators—particularly faculty and graduate students teaching game studies or game design classes in the university context—as well as folks interested in classes that focus on a deep dive into single pieces of game software.