ReadingsUnderstanding Video Games Chapter 5, Woke Gaming Chapter 6 (Kristin Bezio: The Perpetual Crusade: Rise of the Tomb Raider, Religious Extremism, and the Problem of Empire. (p 119-138))

Learning goals: After doing the reading, taking the quiz and attending the class, students can

  • Explain how video game aesthetics incorporate game mechanics as well as visuals, sounds, etc. 
  • Use some of the terms in Understanding Video Games chapter 5 to describe games
  • Explain Said’s concept of orientalism and discuss it in relation to video games

Participation goals: More than 20 different people have spoken in plenary, and everyone has participated in a small group discussion. (Total class size is 79)

  1. Discuss with your neighbour: What does “aesthetics” mean in general? What would “video game aesthetics” mean? Plenary: Class shares some suggestions.
  2. Talk about the concept of aesthetics – the philosophy of what is beautiful, why do some works of art give us pleasure, make us feel a sense of beauty or satisfaction, while we see others as ugly? The idea of form matching content. 
  3. Show Rise of the Tomb Raider review and ask students to note down what aspects of the game the reviewer describes as satisfying, fun, good. Are these aspects “the game aesthetics”?
  4. What does “aesthetics” mean in video games? This chapter is mostly about details about different kinds of rules and mechanics. Structuralist approach, useful for describing games. But what makes a game beautiful, satisfying? 
    • Could be the graphics? [show YouTube video: Graphics vs Aesthetics
    • Could be balance between gameplay/processing? E.g. Chris Crawford’s description of Space Invaders being beautiful because as you kill aliens, the computer has less processing work to do and so the remaining aliens become faster, which increases the difficulty of the game.
    • Is it to do with form/content matching? E.g. Journey.
    • Kant: separated beauty from the sublime. Show brief slideshow about the sublime. Can a game be sublime?
  5. Small groups: What is a game you have found beautiful or emotionally moving? What about the game made you feel that way?
  6. Orientalism– Edward Said, (show first Said himself explaining orientalism here from 1:23 to 3:50– then this rap about orientalism)
  7. Small groups: Do you know any games that might be orientalist, following Said’s definition?
  8. Plenary discussion.

After class:

  • Complete readings and quiz if you haven’t already
  • Analytical Let’s Play video due Friday

For next class:

  • Read: Understanding Video Gamesch 6 (p 157-198) and Ask, Svendsen & Karlstrøm: «Når jentene må inn i skapet» (use Google translate if you don’t read Norwegian – it Google translates surprisingly well)
  • Do the quiz or discussion on this material that will appear in mittuib by 1 Feb.

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