Games for Change 

Instructors: Peter Ohring: Nat Sci 1007. Mon, Thurs 2:00-3:30
Class Hours:  Monday, Thursday 10:30-12:10
Location:   Nat Sci 1013

Course Overview: Play is a central feature of the human exerience and, over the past several decades, video games have become a popular form of play for people of all ages. In this course we will examine how digital games can go beyond pure entertainment and be used as a means for educating people about important social and global issues. We will work on web-based Flash games that are conceptualized, designed, and developed to effect change.

We will employ a variety of learning activities to facilitate this exploration including readings and discussions, playing and analyzing numerous games, hands-on projects along with critiques, and student in-class presentations.

Course Structure: The class meets once a week. Please be in class and ready to go at 8:30 each Wednesday morning. The classes will be a mix of discussions, presentations, hands-on writing activities, and miscellaneous other activities. We will take a short break midway through the morning for a coffee run.

We will be using moodle, an open source course management system, extensively this semester. Course materials, other resources, and grades will be posted there.

You are allowed up to three absences. Each absence beyond this threshold will result in a letter grade deduction from your final grade.

Reading Responses: You will have weekly reading assignments. For each reading you must write a typed response that is at least one page long (double-spaced). These responses are not summaries. Unless questions are posed to you ahead of time in class, you should write your thoughts about the reading (e.g. what was interesting to you, what do you agree with, what do you not agree with, what do you not understand etc.). These responses are to show me that you read the materials closely and prepare you for class discussion. Submit your response via the moodle assignment set up for it before the class (typically Thursday) in which it will be discussed. Late reading responses will be marked down.

Assignments: There will be weekly assignments cetnering on game design and development. These assignements will typically be due at the start of class on Mondays. Late reading responses will be marked down.

Text:ActionScript 3.0 by Derrick Ypenburg, Peachpit Press 2009

Other Books: Rules of Play by Katie Salen/Eric Zimmerman; Critical Play by Mary Flanagan

Grading:

Your grade for the class will be based on projects, written responses to readings, assignments, attendance and participation.

Assignments: 20%
Labs: 20%
Projects: 20%
Written Responses: 20%
Miderm Exam 10%
Participation: 10%

Special Needs: I encourage students with disabilities to let me know as soon as possible during the semester what, if any, special accommodations they will need.  After-the-fact accommodations will not be possible.  All students requesting accommodation for disabilities need to provide documentation from the Office of Students with Disabilities.  This office is located in the Counseling Center, in the basement of Humanities (Room 0012).  Call Ronnie Mait, who directs the office, at (914) 251-6035, or call the Counseling Center, (914) 251-6390.  They are happy to answer questions.  For more information, go to http://www.purchase.edu/studaff/specialstudentservices.

Syllabus: This syllabus is subject to change. Always refer to the class web site for the current syllabus, live hyperlinks and class announcements. Reading assignments will often be accompanied by questions to help guide your responses. Please refer to moodle on a weekly basis for these questions.

Week 1 (January 21)

Class Activities
Discussion of course objectives, learning activities, and expectations
Game Platforms discussion
Demo: Free Rice, Darfur is Dying
Grow a Game game

Week 2 (January 25)

Assignment (due on Mon, Jan 25)
Read Chapter 1 in ActionScript 3.0 book.
Play lightbot to level 7 at the very least. Submit a screen capture of the highest level you achieve.

Reading (due on Thurs, Jan 28):
Nature and Significance of Play as a Cultural Phenomenon by Johan Huizinga, pg 96-107 in A Game Design Reader edited by Katie Salens and Eric Zimmerman.

Guiding questions:

Class Activities
Discussion based on reading
Lab 1: Porting lightbot to as3
Game of the week: i made this. you play this. we are enemies.

Week 3 (February 1)

Reading:
I Have No Words & I Must Design by Greg Costikyan

Class Activities
Discussion based on reading
Lab: TBA
Game of the week: Bump the Birds

Week 4 (February 8)

Reading:
Design, Chapter 4 from Rules of Play by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman

Class Activities
Discussion based on reading
Lab: TBA
Game of the week: McDonald's Game

Week 5 (February 15)

Reading:
Metaphors we Live By, Chapter 1, by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson
Poetic Passage Provokes Heavy Thoughts on Life, Death by Clive Thompson in Wired Magazine, April 2008

Class Activities

Discussion based on reading
Lab: TBA
Game of the week: Passages

Week 6 (February 22)

Reading:
Why I Love Bees- A Case Study in Collective Intelligence Gaming by Jane McGonigal

Class Activities
Discussion based on reading
Lab: TBA
Game of the week: Ayiti: The Cost of Life

Week 7 (March 1)

Reading:
Critical Computer Games, Chapter 7 from Critical Play by Mary Flanagan

Class Activities
Discussion based on reading
Lab: TBA
Game of the week: Layoff

Check it Out
The Armory Show

Week 8 (March 8)

Reading:
Education vs. Entertainment: A Cultural History of Children’s Software by Mizuko Ito

Class Activities
Discussion based on reading
Lab: TBA
Game of the week: Global Conflicts: Palestine

Week 9 (March 15)

Reading:
Games as Systems of Uncertainty, Chapter 15 from Rules of Play by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman

Class Activities
Midterm exam
Discussion based on reading
Lab: TBA
Game of the week: Hurricane Katrina: Tempest in Crescent City

Week 10 (March 22)

Reading:
S P A C E W A R Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums
by Stewart Brand

Class Activities
Discussion based on reading
Lab: TBA
Game of the week: Budget Hero

Week 11 (April 5)

Reading:
Hackers vs. Painters by Paul Graham

Class Activities
Discussion based on reading
Lab: TBA
Game of the week: Play the News

Week 12 (April 12)

Reading:
Piercing the Spectacle by Brenda Laurel

Class Activities
Discussion based on reading
Lab: TBA
Game of the week: The Garbage Game

Week 13 (April 14)

Reading:
The Education of a Computer Game Designer by Chris Crawford

Class Activities
Discussion based on reading
Lab: TBA
Game of the week: TBA

Week 14 (April 26)

Reading:
TBA.

Class Activities
Discussion based on reading
Lab: TBA
Game of the week: TBA

Week 15 (May 3)

Reading:
No Reading

Class Activities
Discussion based on reading
Lab: TBA
Game of the week:

Week 16 (May 10)

Reading:
No Reading

Class Activities
Final Presentations