Spring 2011 - Graduate Course Descriptions

Frome, Jonathan
Discipline and Number
ATEC 6342 Section 502
W Time 7:00 PM - 9:45 PM
Course Title
Psychology of Video Games

Description of Course:

Everyone who plays videogames has opinions about what makes games fun, engaging, or interesting. We have theories about whether videogames have good effects, such as teaching complex concepts, or bad effects, such as encouraging addictive behavior. Game designers often talk about trying to create videogames that elicit specific emotions or reactions in a player, such as making a player cry or forcing a player to make difficult moral choices. These questions all fall under the larger issue of how we psychologically respond to videogames.

Yet, although we have theories about how and why we respond to videogames, what do we actually know about how videogames affect us psychologically?

This course will be dedicated to answering that question. The first part of the course will be devoted to exploring our psychological responses to videogames based on theory, game analysis, and discussion of current research. The second part of the course will be devoted to projects in which students will contribute to our current understanding of videogames and psychology. In groups or individually (your choice), students will investigates a topic of their choice by designing and conducting an experiment to discover something new about how people respond to videogames. Depending on each group’s interests and expertise, the final project may use existing videogames, or students may create games specifically for the project.

Required Texts:

To be determined, but it's likely that all readings will be on e-reserve.

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

No knowledge of experimental methods or game design is required for the course. The course will be graded based in large part on the level of enthusiastic engagement students have with the readings, including picking topics to concentrate on, and with course activities. The focus of the class will be on learning through the design, execution, and presentation of the projects.

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