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J 203
“Game Over!” Critical Studies on
News and the Digital Game
Time/Location: 9:30 a.m.- 11:00 a.m. WF, Location XXX
Greg Perreault, M.A.,
[email protected]
Office: XXXX
Office hours: XXX
I. Course Description
Game Over! Critical Studies on News and the Digital Game (3 credit hours)
This class will examine the intersection of video games and news. You will be required to play
games for class, but more than that, you will be required to think and take notes while you do so.
This class will be an in-depth analysis of the social, political and moral messages, functioning as
commentary on contemporary events, incumbent in video game narrative and play. Whereas
television and film often function as aspirational mediums—presenting both our desires and our
fears, we will examine the degree to which video games function as a critical medium—
challenging and at times affirming aspects of society. We will also examine the news coverage of
the video game medium, which at various stages has been lauding, hostile and fearful. We will
also explore the phenomena of “newsgames,” games produced by academic and journalistic
institutions for the purpose of delivering news or supplementary information to newscasts.
You’ve all read the reports—news readership and news viewership is plummeting. With that in
mind, the class seeks to deconstruct the idea of “journalism” and reconsider how people can
collect and deliver information using the media and mediums with which they are most
comfortable. Recent statistics note that 78 percent of people play video games on a regular basis
(the definition of video games here including everything from Angry Birds to Call of Duty,
Farmville to Fable III). And that statistic is only growing as the youngest generation (as digital
natives) grow up in a world in which gaming is not a niche hobby but rather a part of the air they
breathe. So this class will keep an eye toward the future of news: how can video games function
in news/informational capacity? What does the traditional news media’s attitude toward gaming
imply? And how can news organizations harness this medium to win new news media
Who is this class for? If you are interested in the way the news media covers new technologies, if
you are interested academically or professionally in video games, if you are interested in the
future of news and information—this class is for you. This class will demand your participation
and your willingness to explore mediums and subject matter with which you are not familiar. If
you don’t want to talk and write seriously about video games or the news, you’ll find this class
uncomfortable. Required texts for this class will require a mix of traditional textbooks, scholarly
books and video games. This is a critical class so you will be discouraged from consuming your
media passively. This class will also be reading and writing intensive. Your opinions will be
Game Over! Syllabus
Spring 2016
valued in this class, but you will be expected to learn and practice the art of backing up your
thoughts concretely.
This class is geared toward Freshman and Sophomore students and considered an entry point into
the scholarly study of Communication Studies. This class will also prepare you for successful
understanding of the other classes in the department. This should serve as an introduction into
research in media institutions, media representations, media audiences and journalism studies.
The successful student, upon completion of this class, will have:
A greater understanding of the interaction between video games and news through the
lens of the video game medium, the news medium, and the news game.
An understanding of the basics of critical/cultural analysis. Why is it worthwhile to
deconstruct concepts like “video game” and “journalism” and what benefit does such an
effort have both academically and practically?
Constructed and carried out a textual analysis study on a news or video game item as a
part of a team.
Learned the essence of research paper writing and produced an academic research paper
eligible for consideration at a conference for undergraduate research.
Gained an understanding of the role of media in society and have a sense for why media
are the way they are.
II. Required Texts
1) Media in Society by Richard Campbell et al.
2) The Video Game Theory Reader by Mark Wolf & Bernard Perron (Eds).
Digital Games
3) “Final Fantasy IV” (Available on iOS, Android, Nintendo eShop, PS Store)
4) “Grand Theft Auto III” (Available on iOS, Android, PS Store)
5) “Angry Birds” (Available on iOS, Android, PS Store, Nintendo eShop, Xbox Live)
6) “Dead Space” (Available on iOS, Android, PS Store, Xbox Live)
7) “Chrono Trigger” (Available on iOS, Android, PS Store, Nintendo eShop)
8) Assorted Readings as assigned
III. Course Schedule
*All readings to be completed by Wednesday each week
Week 1: “How to be Media Critical”—Read Campbell et al., Chap. 1
Week 2: “What is Media?”-- Read Campbell et al., Chap. 2; Wolf & Perron,
Introduction; Angry Birds (Short Paper 1 Due—What is a Game?)
Week 3: “Visual Literacy”-- Read Campbell et al., Chap. 3
Week 4: “Narrative Formulas and Storytelling”—Read Campbell et al, Chap. 4; Wolf &
Perron, Chap. 10; Final Fantasy IV
(Short Paper 2 Due—Storytelling Final Fantasy)
Week 5: “Politics of Games”—Read Campbell et al., Chap. 5; Bogost, Chap from
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Persuasive Games
Week 6: “Discoursing Games”—Read Campbell et al., Chap. 6; Grand Theft Auto III
(Short Paper 3 Due—Subversive Messages in Grand Theft Auto III)
Week 7: “Economics of Media”—Read Campbell et al., Chap. 7
Week 8: “Gaming Public Discourse”—Read Campbell et al., Chap. 8; Bogost
Week 9: “Representations”—Read Campbell et al., Chap. 9; Wolf & Perron, Chap. 5;
Dead Space
(Short Paper 4 Due—Religious Representations in Dead Space)
Week 10: “Technology and Society”— Campbell et al., Chap. 10; Wolf & Perron,
Chap. 6
Week 11: “Globalization”— Campbell et al., Chap. 11
Week 12: “Gender & Robots”—Wolf & Perron, Chap. 7 and 8; Chrono Trigger
(Short Paper 5 Due—Post-human Anxiety in Chrono Trigger)
Week 13: Essay Exam
(Final Paper Due on Wednesday)
Week 14: Final Paper Presentations
Week 15: Final Paper Presentations
Grade weights
The elements of the course will contribute to the final grade in approximately these weights:
Final Team Research Paper
Essay Exam
Short Papers (5)
30 percent
30 percent
20 percent
20 percent
Final Paper—In this paper, your team will critically explore a digital game. You will want to (1)
explore news coverage of the game, (2) examine scholarly discussion of the game, the series
and/or the genre, (3) connect course readings to critical analyze the gameplay and narrative of the
game and (4) discuss the implications the selected game has on the future of news and
information and how the news coverage shapes how we think about this game and games in
Short Papers—Throughout the class, you will be assigned five different games to play. The
format in which you play the game is up to you, as is how far your progress in the game. Based
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on experience, I would say that it is difficult to critically assess a game unless you’ve logged at
least 10 hours on it. In short 2-page response papers, you will analyze the game in light of current
Essay Exam—This exam will assess your critical thinking and media literacy skills. It will be
completely in essay format and help you parse through the concepts of “video games” and
Class Participation—You are expected to attend class regularly and to participate in class
activities. Come prepared with questions and thoughts from the readings.
98-100% A+
94-97% A
90-93% A88-89% B+
84-87% B
80-83% B-
78-79% C+
74-77% C
70-73% C68-69% D+
64-67% D
63-60% D59% & below
Academic Honesty
Academic honesty is fundamental to the activities and principles of a university. All members of
the academic community must be confident that each person's work has been responsibly and
honorably acquired, developed and presented. Any effort to gain an advantage not given to all
students is dishonest whether or not the effort is successful.
Academic misconduct includes but is not limited to the following:
Use of materials from another author without citation or attribution.
Use of verbatim materials from another author without citation or attribution.
Extensive use of materials from past assignments without permission of your instructor.
Extensive use of materials from assignments in other classes without permission of your
Fabricating information in news or feature stories, whether for publication or not.
Fabricating sources in news or feature stories, whether for publication or not.
Fabricating quotes in news or feature stories, whether for publication or not.
Lack of full disclosure or permission from editors when controversial reportorial
techniques, such as going undercover to get news, are used.
Misrepresenting yourself to a source – not identifying yourself as a J2100 student.
Misrepresenting your reporting techniques such as describing a scene as if you were there
when you weren’t there.
Interviewing university sources – faculty or students, friends or family members unless
your instructor has given express permission to use any of those for a source.
Violating the conflict of interest rule – writing stories on subjects or interviewing people
with whom you have a connection, e.g. Writing a story about an event that your
organization sponsored or using sources from those events in other stories.
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When in doubt about plagiarism, paraphrasing, quoting or collaboration, consult with your
instructor. For closed-book exams and exercises, academic misconduct includes conferring with
other class members, copying or reading someone else's test and using notes and materials
without prior permission of the instructor. For open-book exams and exercises, academic
misconduct includes copying or reading someone else's work.
Classroom Misconduct
Classroom misconduct includes forgery of class attendance; obstruction or disruption of teaching,
including late arrival or early departure; failure to turn off cellular telephones leading to
disruption of teaching; playing games or surfing the Internet on laptop computers unless
instructed to do so; physical abuse or safety threats; theft; property damage; disruptive, lewd or
obscene conduct; abuse of computer time; repeated failure to attend class when attendance is
required; and repeated failure to participate or respond in class when class participation is
IMPORTANT: Entering a classroom late or leaving a classroom before the end of the period can
be extremely disruptive behavior. Students are asked to arrive for class on time and to avoid early
departures. This is particularly true of large lectures, where late arrivals and early departures can
be most disruptive. Instructors have the right to deny students access to the classroom if they
arrive late and have the right to dismiss a student from the class for early departures that result in
Under MU policy, your instructor has the right to ask for your removal from the course for
misconduct, disruptive behavior or excessive absences. The instructor then has the right to issue a
grade of withdraw, withdraw failing or F. The instructor alone is responsible for assigning the
grade in such circumstances.
Dishonesty and Misconduct Reporting Procedures
Faculty are required to report all instances of academic or classroom misconduct to the
appropriate campus officials. Allegations of classroom misconduct will be forwarded
immediately to Vice Chancellor for Student Services. Allegations of academic misconduct will be
forwarded immediately to the Office of the Provost. In cases of academic misconduct, the student
will receive at least a zero for the assignment in question.
Professional Standards and Ethics
The School of Journalism is committed to the highest standards of academic and professional
ethics and expects its students to adhere to those standards. Students should be familiar with the
Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists and adhere to its restrictions. Students
are expected to observe strict honesty in academic programs and as representatives of schoolrelated media. Should any student be guilty of plagiarism, falsification, misrepresentation or other
forms of dishonesty in any assigned work, that student may be subject to a failing grade from the
instructor and such disciplinary action as may be necessary under University regulations.
Audio and Video Recordings of Classes
Students may make audio or video recordings of course activity for personal use and review
unless specifically prohibited by the faculty member in charge of the class. However, to foster a
safe learning environment in which various viewpoints are respected, the redistribution of audio
or video recordings or transcripts thereof is prohibited without the written permission of the
faculty member in charge of the class and the permission of all students who are recorded.
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If you have special needs as addressed by the Americans with Disabilities Act and need
assistance, please notify me immediately. The school will make reasonable efforts to
accommodate your special needs. Students are excused for recognized religious holidays. Please
let me know in advance if you have a conflict.
ADA Compliance
Students with Disabilities:
If you anticipate barriers related to the format or requirements of this course, if you have
emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need to make arrangements in case
the building must be evacuated, please let me know as soon as possible.
Religious Holidays
Students are excused for recognized religious holidays. Let your instructor know in advance if
you have a conflict.
Intellectual Pluralism
The University community welcomes intellectual diversity and respects student rights. Students
who have questions concerning the quality of instruction in this class may address concerns to
either the Departmental Chair or Divisional leader or Director of the Office of Students Rights
and Responsibilities. All students will have the opportunity to submit an anonymous evaluation
of the instructor(s) at the end of the course.
Game Over! Syllabus
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