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Video Game Invention

Narrative Play: Storytelling Games
at Home & on Screen

We are quickly approaching the 50th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons, over a decade of the streaming platform Twitch and indie games website, and the ninth generation of video game consoles. The most successful TV/film Kickstarter of all time funded the animated series for D&D livestream Critical Role. Game Studies has existed as an interdisciplinary field for over three decades, with its own subfields and debates.


This course will explore tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs) as storytelling engines. We'll read academic articles, games journalism, and video essays, and think about what makes for successful writing about games. We'll think about the new narrative frames introduced by Actual Play (performed TTRPGs) and livestreaming as well as games as transmedia phenomena, influencing and being influenced by television, film, comic books, and many other genres and modes. We'll examine representation in games: both what is depicted and who creates them.  And of course, share a lot of games, big and small, with one another. For those not already familiar with TTRPG and Actual Play, recommended preparatory listening/playing will be provided after Registration.


Students will gain knowledge of the fields of narratology (the study of the structure of stories), ludology (the study of actions and events in games), and other related fields, and have opportunities to participate in ongoing research.

Fall 2021 Class Guests included: actor London Carlisle, artist/game designer Tim Hutchings, actor/writer Aabria Iyengar, critic Mx. Tiffany Leigh, scholar/designer Evan Torner, and actor/writer B. Dave Walters.

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