Teaching Technology: Video Games

12May08

Here’s the third entry in my series of posts highlighting my students’ work from my Media Technology course. One key medium that we studied was videogames, and it has been a challenge to think about how to create a project that allows students to make media criticism using videogame technology – if I had the skills and time, we’d teach students how to design games and have them build a game that offers a critical perspective on gaming. But that’s out of my league, and the class would have be entirely focused on that project throughout the semester.

So instead we set-up a game lab in the library, complete with XBox 360, PS2, Wii, and gaming PC, all wired into video recorders so they could capture gameplay footage easily. The assignment was to create a video that offers a critical analysis on gaming in some form, a mode of analytical machinima. One interesting insight is that the most rewarding projects all employed a comparative approach between games or comparing the virtual to the real – I think that highlights one of the most positive potentials for this genre of video-delivered videogame criticism, as the comparative visuals and modes of engagement can be quite striking. The best-of results are beneath the fold:

Although the assignment did not require any use of video cameras, Thompson and Mica took a big leap by creating a full-fledged music video about the game Rock Band. Thompson is an accomplished musician, playing every instrument on this original song, while Mica put her editing (and virtual musician) chops to the test. I’d love to see this clip go viral!

Stephen and Melissa used a more explicitly analytical rhetoric in their video, comparing the way that both The Sims and GTA: San Andreas ask you to fashion and tend for an avatar, to quite differing results:

George & Kyle do a similar comparative project focusing on driving games, through a contrast between Mario Kart and Forza Motorsports 2 that highlight our differing expectations of visuals and interface within the seemingly narrow genre:

Finally, Derek & Brian explore sports games and the elusive concept of fun, through a video that embraces the idea of fun in a way that most academic papers cannot:



One Response to “Teaching Technology: Video Games”


  1. 1 Tama Leaver dot Net » Blog Archive » Student Creativity and Writing (on) the Web

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