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Chris Holden,


This is a course in translation. Your aim will be to take ideas from other media and put them into game form. These ideas will need to come from elsewhere: analytic research, empirical studies, other creative endeavors, etc. I will help you find tools and develop skills to create games from them, and also to develop a way of thinking that helps you to think about what this means. You are not expected to be a programmer. Lots of tools are out there that make it possible to make games without coding. You are expected to bring ideas in to work on. This class will allow some space but not provide background for whatever it is you want to bring to the world of games.

Suggestions: Continue this course as part of a block which began with in Dr. Cargas’ UHON 204 Individual and the Collective: Globalization Human Rights or Dr. Moore’s UHON 402 - Big Data, Big Opportunities. Do the same with any other course where the outcome of your study was an analytic paper. What would it mean to take these same ideas and make a game out of them? Or maybe there’s something you’ve been curious about on your own: Local wildlife, ghost stories, etc. These too would make excellent concepts/resources for a game.

We will unpack what games are, how they work, and take a look at how others put them to work in non-entertainment situations. Even if your game is not to be played by students, in the end, every game comes down to learning. So we will learn how games and their communities recruit learning. Game designers have learned some tricks you don’t often see in school.

At the root of every subject is a similar problem we would like to address using games, an act of sharing to bring someone else along. Those students continuing the block will know their problem area quite well by the time they get here.

Games work differently than op-eds, leaflet campaigns, or textbooks. You can encode systems of behavior in games, create opportunities to walk in someone else’s shoes, in short, to see things from new perspectives and witness the consequences of your actions.


How to Do Things with Videogames by Ian Bogost
Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal
Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form by Anna Anthropy
The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell
Extra Credits (Youtube series) by James Portnow and Daniel Floyd
There will be other readings, podcasts, videos, and games depending on the subjects our particular group encounters.





To succeed in this class, you do not need
Experience programming
Experience with games
You will need
An ability to work productively with others
An interest in playing games
An interest in getting to know how games work and what they can be used to do
A willingness to follow these interests in some depth
A willingness to try new tools and technologies
This class will have several parts, but the biggest is a creative game design project on a small team. Each student will also be responsible for a public lecture on an important video game. Along the way we will play games, read about how they work, take small steps toward our big designs, try to come to grips with some of the ways games intersect other cultural forms and are used by others to address issues and problems in our world. Individuals will also hold lectures related to games and their cultural contributions to public audiences.



Chris Holden is a mathematician for the people. He received his Ph.D. in number theory from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Originally from Albuquerque, his current research focuses on place-based mobile game design and implementation. Chris enjoys videogames like DDR and Katamari Damacy, and he takes a whole lot of photos.