Study of games and cultures of play | Abertay University

Study of games and cultures of play


Of all the new media forms that have emerged since digital technologies have become ubiquitous in our social and cultural environment, interactive entertainment, and in particularl videogames, could be described as the form that is most fundamentally “native” to the computer. As a form of entertainment, they have introduced new relationships between audiences/players and the media with which they interact, and present unique challenges to producers, critics and the public at large.


To provide students with the historical and theoretical foundations in the study of games and play There are two broad goals for this module. The first is to provide a historical and cultural overview of digital and non-digital games; the second is to cultivate critical sophistication in the understanding and interpretation of interactivity, videogames andgame-play. The coursework involves three primary activities: reading relevant texts from the growing field of videogame studies, writing and presenting thoughtfully about games and other digital media, and, of course, playing games.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Describe the ontological and anthropological characteristics of games and play.

2.  Describe various games using a range of analytical methods

3.  Articulate the characteristics of gameplay experience for different types of players.

4.  Discuss patterns of historical change in games and play

5.  Produce a scholarly paper appropriate to level, reflecting original research and reflection

Indicative Content

1 *

On play, game and rules – definitions and theories of play

2 *

Videogame history – from pre-modern antecedents through the history of computing

3 *

Games as software - the material nature of the digital turn in play

4 *

Aesthetics in games – aesthetic theory and its application to play

5 *

Games and art – survey of the deployment of games in art institutions and contexts

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Indie Games – the history of game industrial models and the emergence of an independent sector

7 *

Game culture and community - MMOs and online play – virtual worlds and other networks of play

8 *

Games and narrative – games as a storytelling form, and the relationship between fiction and play. “Serious” games.and “persuasive” games – the use of games to educate, train, and change behaviour

9 *

Games and effects – risks and benefits ascribed to digital games, from violence and addiction to cognitive benefits and learning

10 *

Games and gender – history and analysis of the experiences of women in gaming

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Theoretical and contextual content will be delivered through a series of lectures, and extended during discussion sessions where students will reflect on reading material, film screening, play experiences and lecture content in a group setting. By week 7, students will have completed a research proposal and abstract for an academic research paper, to be submitted on the final week of the module

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 20
Tutorial/Seminar 10
Supervised Practical Activity 0
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 100
Independent 70

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2017/18 , and may be subject to change for future years.