Critical Game Studies Syllabus

With the aid of a Course Development Grant from the Office of Undergraduate Studies, this past year I had the chance to develop a new course at the University of Pittsburgh, ENGLIT 1002 Critical Game Studies. As I may not likely get to teach this course anytime soon, I thought I would share the syllabus.

The course’s reading includes Tom Bissel’s Extra Lives (2010), Alexander R. Galloway’s Gaming (2006), Jesper Juul’s The Art of Failure (2013), McKenzie Wark’s Gamer Theory (2007), and many interesting critical essays on play, narratology v. ludology, gender, empire, countergaming, and other related concerns. The majority of games on the syllabus are quite recent, and indie games in particular dominate, including (but not limited to): Between (2008), Braid (2008), Depression Quest (2013), Goat Simulator (2014), Papers, Please (2014), Sunset (2015), and The Stanley Parable (2013).

Post-Semester Links

Here’s a couple things I’ve found interesting recently that I forgot to post amidst the work of the semester.

From The Atlantic, Taylor Clark covers Braid designer Jonathan Blow in “The Most Dangerous Gamer.”

An excellent long review of DFW’s The Pale King that I missed from last year: John Jeremiah Sullivan’s “Too Much Information,” in GQ.

Pictures from the secret town of Oak Ridge.

15 writer’s bedrooms. This is Faulkner’s:

And Žižek on The Wire.

SLSA, Braid (and the Nuclear. . .)

So I just got back from an excellent meeting of the Society for Literature Science and the Arts (SLSA), in Kitchener, Ontario (a surprisingly good city for a conference), and though I’m vibrating about a host of things, feel completely intellectually and academically reinvigorated, and had a great time w/ my colleagues and c0-panelists Robin Clarke and Sten Carlson, perhaps the thing I most took away from the conference (in terms of this blog) were Patrick Jagoda and N. Katherine Hayles discussing the indie-game, Braid (Jonathan Blow, 2009)–a game I kinda can’t believe I didn’t know about (oops). Sadly, I feel I cannot really spoil why it belongs on this here blog (but maybe I will after I finish playing it), but suffice it to say, it very much deserves some hyperarchivally parallactic attention. Also, it’s available on X-Box Live and is downloadable for like 10 bucks online. It’s totally worth it. So, until I finish playing it and feel like spoiling the ending, here’s a trailer.