Theory and Aesthetics of Video Games

I started my one and only class last night. It’s called “Theory and Aesthetics of Video Games”.

Over the last three decades, video games have become an increasingly important medium in terms of popularity, economic significance, and cultural impact. This course aims to provide a structural and analytical framework for the study of this emerging medium. Because video games are relatively new, we will explore ways to study, analyze and theorize about video games within a Fine Arts context. As with popular culture generally, a major question is whether video games warrant the sustained attention and critical investigation that we devote to works of literature, visual art, cinema, or music. Therefore, we will explore video games for their uniqueness as a medium but also in terms of similarities with other aesthetic artifacts. Topics to be explored will include: history and origins, aesthetics and interpretation, genres, interactivity and narrative, character development, game play, mise-en-scene, and social issues such as gender and violence. Note: for various reasons, we will be focusing almost exclusively on games from the three major consoles now on the market.

It looks to be a fairly entertaining class and seeing the make-up of the class it will be interesting to see what kind of discussions we will be having. The class is mostly male (28 guys – 2 girls) and for the most part they seem like the type of guys that spend a lot time playing video games. Not that I don’t spend a lot of time playing games myself, especially with all the free time I have now, but more than a few of them seem to be especially hard-core video game zealots.

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