The new module is open to students from various courses in the School of Cultural Studies & Humanities, including Media Communications & Cultures and Media & English, Challenging Gaming Culture considers various aspects of gaming practice. It provides students with both methodological and critical tools, which focus on not only game mechanics and narratives, but also signs, semiotics and politics.
Module leader Gaspard Pelurson thinks studying these areas as part of a media course are important because ‘now more than ever, games and gaming culture deserve to be studied, as they shape popular culture and the future of the entertainment industry.’
Students are encouraged to get involved with workshops, practical sessions and analytical discussions, as well as their weekly lectures. The primary focus is on a selection of games, which allow students to partake in both practical and theoretical discussions. Providing them with a systematic understanding of the theories and methods prevalent within gaming, as well as a critical awareness of current issues and debates in the gaming industry, the module also provides the opportunity to perform a critical analysis on selected video games through responsive media texts and to make clear links with evidence on how it reflects on society and culture. In addition to this, the module’s first assessment is to create a ‘political game’ on gaming platform Twine2 (a free online software that enables users to create a game with a structured and clear narrative). Students were given a brief to develop and create their own games, either individually or as part of a group. Many submissions exceeded expectations with students producing exceptional games, which displayed a high level of knowledge and understanding of the course’s content.
Joseph Reeves, Matthew Wilson-Green and Gabriel Gois-Duarte, all third-year students, created a game called ‘Claudia Hood’. The game looks to tackle a very topical theme – Amazon warehouse’s working conditions with main aim being to take on Amazon boss Jeff Bezos.Talking about his experience Joseph said, “I enjoyed the Challenging Gaming culture module because it allowed me to be expressive and creative yet also had a lot of academic theory that can be applied to my own work as well as the work of others. This module was thought provoking as video games are not often analysed like other forms of popular media, despite being more popular than a lot of them. It was enjoyable to explore video games the same way that we explore films and television as I had never thought about analysing a video game.”
Olivia Murphy, a fellow third-year student, created one of the most sophisticated games in the class. Using cuteness as an aesthetic, Olivia’s game is funny and witty but also tackles the difficult theme of sexual harassment. Olivia expressed her views on this module, “I honestly think this module has been my favourite out of the whole 3 years on the course! I have never been a gamer, so I had reservations as I'm not familiar with gaming culture at all, but the content on the module was super interesting and very eye opening. I enjoyed the independence of making a twine game as I could show my creativity through an outlet I'd never tried before and improved my ability to code! However, I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much if Gaspard wasn't teaching it - he is very passionate about this module and I have learnt so much from him which has added to my dissertation.”
Despite being brand new, the gaming module has been a great success and has exceeded expectations of staff and students. There have been excellent reviews from the students that have experienced the new module and has proven to be very interesting even to those with little to no gaming experience.