New course on analyzing and designing games
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Please play games in class

Computer science and engineering department implements new systems course, and it’s all fun and games

By Brecken Mumford | Contributor

Stop playing your favorite games and start creating them

Stop playing your favorite games and start creating them.

Taylor has introduced a “Game Studies” course on Tuesday nights from 6-9 p.m. this semester. Jon Denning, a computer science and engineering (CSE) professor at Taylor, and T.R. Knight, director of enterprise infrastructure, have joined together to teach the class.

The class examines board (tabletop), mobile and digital games from societal and academic perspectives. In a recent interview for The Chronicle-Tribune, Knight shared his hopes for the class.

“From an academic perspective, we hope students come away with a real world understanding of systems by studying games as systems,” Knight said. “From a personal perspective, I hope students also come away with a deeper appreciation of the design, history and impact of games on our lives and culture.”

The class is set to take students through an in-depth study of the history, philosophy, mechanics and design of games. Students will study and analyze assigned games, in addition to taking weekly quizzes over readings and lectures.

One major theme being taught is “gamification,” which is how gaming (of any kind) can directly influence our culture and daily lives. Gamification can happen in many ways, but the rise in mobile and multi-player gaming has increased its reach. Denning shared his perspectives in this trend in his interview with The Chronicle-Tribune.

“Mobile phones have opened up an avenue of games that weren’t available before and gaming systems such as the Wii have made gaming more accessible,” Denning said.

Denning and Knight also hope to challenge students to analyze how the accessibility and number of games have changed how people interact with one another.

Knight pointed out several changes and advancements among tabletop games within the last five years.

“We have seen a renaissance of tabletop gaming as families and friends want to spend more time together, which also has lead to the rise of game cafés throughout the world,” Knight said.

The course has given students the opportunity to examine the impact of gaming on their lives, whether it is The Game of Life, Mario Kart or Flappy Crush.

Sophomore Judah Doupe, a member of the class, said, “I’ll take a more analytical approach to games in the future. I find myself analyzing games now more that I’m in the class than before when I was just playing the games for fun.”

Game Studies was set to have a maximum of 20 students, and 19 registered for the class—a good sign for its future. Knight and Denning are excited for the opportunity and are hopeful for the development of more courses along this avenue.

“Early feedback from students is very positive,” Knight said. “So I could see us offering this course again in the future. Our hope is this course is the genesis for other related courses.”

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