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Game Studies Course #1: An Introduction

Game Studies Course #1: An Introduction

Game Studies Course #1: An Introduction

Exciting news!  The Games Studies course that Dr. Jon Denning and I have been developing for Taylor University was approved and will be offered in the Spring 2016 Semester.  We have a lot of details yet to work out, but it is happening. Now that it has been approved, I thought you might enjoy the history of how this course came to be, the process of designing the course, and the experience we have teaching it. So this post starts a new Monday series on the Game Studies Course.

I will give more of the course history next week, but for now, I will offer this quick intro. I had originally conceived this course as a Game Design course focusing on tabletop games. After a lot of discussion with university leadership and a fateful meeting with a new professor at Taylor, the conversation shifted to offering this course as a systems course that would be a hybrid of tabletop and digital game studies. Why Game Studies and not Game Theory or Game Design, as I originally proposed? First, you need to understand the difference in the three topics.

Game theory – “a mathematical theory that deals with strategies for maximizing gains and minimizing losses within prescribed constraints, as the rules of a card game: widely applied in the solution of various decision-making problems, as those of military strategy and business policy. (Source:

Game design – “the art of applying design and aesthetics to create a game to facilitate interaction between players for entertainment or for medical, educational, or experimental purposes. (Source:

Game studies – “a discipline that deals with the critical study of games. More specifically, it focuses on game design, players, and their role in society and culture. Game studies is an inter-disciplinary field with researchers and academics from a multitude of other areas such as computer science, psychology, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, arts and literature, media studies, communication.” (Source:

Game Theory was too theoretical for our interest as faculty and students. Game Design was too technically applied for the university’s interest. Game Studies fit the requirements of the University for an academic pursuit and covers topics of interest to our students. Here is the approved draft of our course description which will give you a feel of where the class is heading.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Games are as popular as ever on computers, consoles, mobile and tabletop. Various Conventions, Kickstarters, Blogs, and Media Outlets are devoted to games. Game publishers are seeking new and innovative games for the market. The course serves to introduce the various aspects of game studies. This systems course will cover a brief history and philosophy of games, basic game theory, game mechanics, probability, game conceptualization, game design process, iterative design, game industry, and gamification. Further, the student will experience the practical elements of game development including game conceptualization, prototyping, playtesting, and production through a final group project of creating a game. The theories and processes discussed in this course apply to digital and tabletop game design.

Next week I will discuss the history of how this course went from a random conversation with friends to an approved course at Taylor University. If you have experienced a course such as this, taught one, or have other insights or questions, please share them. Dr. Denning and I are still very involved in the development of this course and open to ideas and insights.

Game Studies Course Series:

As new posts are added to the series, I will link them here:



21 thoughts on “Game Studies Course #1: An Introduction

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