While mulling over and designing the Game Studies course myself, I learned from some Taylor alumni that Dr. Richard Squiers offered an introductory course in Game Theory And Design at Taylor University back in the mid-80s. I reached out to Dr. Squiers, who is now retired from Taylor, inquiring about the course.
“Boy is that a blast from the past. It was about 30 years ago… Mid-80s as I recall. If my memory serves me well, the course was called Game Theory and Design and dealt with the an introductory to game theory, a history of gaming going back to ancient cultures, the uses of games for teaching and learning, some information on simulation gaming (e.g. military gaming, business planning, etc.), and the (then) emerging field of computer gaming. We played some ancient games (Greek and Egyptian mostly)… analyzed the strategy used in some common board games, tinkered with some of what would now be thought of as primitive computer games.” Excerpt of Email from Dr. Squiers
Dr. Squiers continues to discuss the course with me and is hoping to find some of his original files for the course that are currently in storage. My original proposal to the University a year ago included the knowledge of this course.
In the past, Dr. Squiers offered an introductory course in Game Design/Theory. I would like to revive that concept. There is a huge interest in tabletop games today and Taylor could tap into that interest. I have a passion for games and teaching, I also do freelance work in the game industry as an editor/proofreader. I have put a lot of thought into this over the past year and really feel a Game Design course could be of big interest at Taylor. More schools are beginning to offer game studies programs as academic pursuits because they are creative, analytical, logical, math intensive and have career and hobby applications. I view this as a intro level course that starts at the core of game design. If this class shows strong interest among students, this course could be a core course in a new Digital Games Track in CSE, a Mobile Games Track in CSE, a Game Theory minor in Math, or a Game Studies Minor/Certificate.
The course I proposed initially focused entirely on tabletop games and Game Design. With that focus, I had proposed it as an IAS course (Interarea Studies) since it did not fit within a specific major area. I was following heavily upon the original course offered by Dr. Squiers and my own interests and work in the tabletop games industry.
COURSE DESCRIPTION – IAS 370 – Game Design: Tabletop games have seen a massive resurgence in popularity. Various Conventions, Kickstarters, Blogs, and Media Outlets are devoted to tabletop games. Game publishers are seeking new and innovative games for the market. The course serves to introduce the various aspects of game design. The course will cover a brief history and philosophy of games, basic game theory, probability & playability, rule dynamics, game conceptualization, the game design process, game production process, and current issues and practices in the game industry. Further, the student will experience the practical elements of game production including game conceptualization, prototyping, playtesting, and production thought a final group project of creating a tabletop game. Though focused on tabletop games, the theories and processes discussed in this course would apply to digital game design as well. (from the original syllabus proposed to Taylor University Leadership – August 2014 Proposal)
That initial proposal did not fit well within the requirements or interests of the Taylor University academic leadership at the time. They felt the course was too narrowly focused but still had potential, so they asked me to continue my research and discuss it with others at the university. Through discussions with students, meetings with faculty, more research into similar courses offered at other universities, and providentially becoming friends and neighbors with Dr. Jon Denning, the course design expanded into the hybrid tabletop and digital Game Studies course that was approved. With this new hybrid focus, the Computer Science & Engineering Department at Taylor were very interested in adding this course to their Systems curriculum.
COURSE DESCRIPTION – SYS 270 – Game Studies: 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. (from the approved syllabus accepted by the Taylor University CSE Department – May 2015)
I hope that you now have a feel of the evolution of the Game Studies course from my early musings two years ago (August 2013), through the initial proposal a year ago (August 2014), to today (September 2015).