There are few things I enjoy more than school, which is why around this time of the year I start getting giddy about school supplies. With the zeitgeist of MOOCs (massively open online courses) websites like Canvas and Coursera offer a platform for universities to open classes to the public. Last summer, I took the Gender Through Comics course offered from Ball State University (with the wonderful Christina Blanch as engaging professor), and I think I’ve found a course to rival that: Understanding Video Games from the University of Alberta.
Taught by Leah Hackman and and Sean Gouglas, the eleven lesson course aims to tackle complicated subjects like play game mechanics, story, interpretive theory, the culture of games, violence, sex and race in games, and finally, serious games. The ultimate goal of the course, is to provide learners with a vocabulary to construct theoretical frameworks surrounding the medium of video games.
Many familiar with the gaming world have dubbed the medium to be suffering through adolescence, listing many ways the industry could move forward and mature. This course offers one way for the medium to develop more deeply, helping gans are industry professionals a base vocabulary with which to understand and express critiques of gaming.
All the academic parts aside, the course was developed with the help of Edmonton-based video game developer BioWare. You know, the company that makes all my favorite games. It’s still unclear how that partnership will work for the course itself, but I’m desperately hoping for interviews and exclusive insights into some games like Mass Effect or Dragon Age (Although if you’re dying for some Dragon Age discussion you can check out our recent podcast).
You can sign up for the course for free via Coursera. If you decide to join the class, let me know! I’ll be more than happy to let you borrow my notes if you ever need to skip.