If you are interested in reading more on Brenda Brathwaite’s work or on Train, here are two pieces on the subject (the first is a blog post by me; the second is another lecture by Brenda):

I have uploaded the Skype lecture with Jason Rohrer that was conducted for this class on Wednesday, November 30 at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs for the Art History of Videogames. We had some technical difficulties towards the end, but those segments have been (mostly) removed. The audio for my side of the recording does not sound as good because of the acoustics of the room and the webcam microphone (not to mention recording levels in Audacity…). The lecture is freely available to all game developers and scholars who are interested.

Jason Rohrer Skype Lecture Audio File (64 MB)

I would like to thank Jason again for doing the Skype lecture for us and the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs for allowing us to integrate this lecture into the class and supporting Jason’s work.

Final Paper Instructions

Your final paper will be due on Monday, December 12 during finals period (10:50 AM – 1:20 PM). We will be meeting in our regularly scheduled room (COB 216), and the PS3 will be up and running! You may stay for as long as you wish; just make sure you hand in your paper.

Your essay is on any topic of your choosing, so long as it is related to the Art History of Games.

  • The final paper is worth 30% of your grade.
  • The paper will be at least 10 pages long. –> Changed to 7-10 pages.
  • Bibliography does not count towards the 10 pages.
  • There must be at least four ten lines of text on the 10th 7th page.
  • Proofread your papers. As always, spelling and grammar count.
  • The page layout will be in MLA format (12pt Times New Roman font, 1″ margins, double-spacing, 0pt paragraph spacing, header, page numbers, etc).
  • There is no cover page, but your paper must include a header.
  • The bibliography will be in APA format.
  • You should have at least two references other than games in your bibliography to support your research. These references may be from any of the assigned readings or from outside research. Use only reliable, scholarly sources (i.e. no Wikipedia, eHow, forums, etc.).
  • Enter any games mentioned in the bibliography. As there is no official APA game citation style, use this format for game citations: 

Game Title. (Platform, Year). Version number if applicable. Developer, Publisher. Media Type. (i.e. DVD, Flash, downloadable .exe, etc.)

  • Think about what topic you want and turn in or e-mail me a description of it by Monday December 5. While not turning in a topic idea will not lower your grade, it may affect your preparedness, and thus the quality of your final paper.
  • If you would like your paper returned, please include a self-addressed envelope of appropriate size and proper postage or attach a note. I will put papers with notes attached in my mail box.
  • You may hand in your paper early.
  • No digital copies accepted.
  • No late papers accepted. Turn in your papers no later than 1:20 PM on December 12.
  • This message will not self-destruct. However, it will play the Mission Impossible theme song (free Leonard Nemoy Nimoy included). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iA8umvttPvI

Journal Entries

Edit: Both journal entries are optional and may be done for extra credit or as make-up work. Journal entries will not be accepted after December 7.

There is one more journal entry assigned for December 7 on the games we will played and look at that week.

There is no journal entry due on Wednesday, November 30, but you may turn in an entry for extra credit if you missed a journal previously.

Schedule Change!

I have moved our conversation with Jason Rohrer to this Wednesday, November 30! Jason will be Skyping in from California. He was unable to perform the planned Q&A lecture on December 7, so it has been moved up one week. As a result, the schedule has changed. While there are no readings assigned for Wednesday, you are encouraged to come up with questions for Jason. After all, this is a big opportunity to speak directly with one of the leaders in games as art!

Nov 30 – Jason Rohrer Skype Lecture

  • You are encouraged to come up with questions for Jason.

Dec 5 – Antiwar Games

Dec 7 – Train

After break, we will look at games as performance and activism.

Nov 28 – In-Game Performance

Nov 30 – Antiwar Games


The explanation I gave of the grades may not have been as detailed as it could have been. Here is the grading scale used:

  • A+ = 100
  • A = 96
  • A- = 92
  • B+ = 88
  • B = 85
  • B- = 82
  • C+ = 78
  • etc.

On your grades sheet, it says X/41, where 41 is the total number of points so far. The journal entries are 30% of the grade, each regular paper is 10%, the final is 30%, and class participation is 10%. The 41 points includes 7 journal entries and your first two papers.

To determine the maximum grade you can get this semester, add 59 to X in X/41. That will be if you get 100% on Paper 3 and your final paper as well as maintain good class participation.

Again, if there are any questions, just e-mail me at the address listed in the syllabus (dmonnens (*AT*SYMBOL*) gmail (*DOT*) com).

Paper 3

Choose one of these topics to write your essay on. Write a minimum 2.5 to 3 page paper on the subject. Please follow MLA-style guidelines when formatting your paper and use APA style for citations.

Paper 3 will have two due dates: Monday, November 21 and Monday, November 28 (after Thanksgiving). You may turn in your paper on either of those two days and receive full credit. There will be no journal entry due next week.

  1. Analyze one game from this section in depth. Examine in particular the designer’s background and his or her approach to the subject matter, as well as how the game’s themes are communicated through gameplay, art, story, and other components. Answer questions such as: What is the artist’s intent? What elements of the design further his or her goal? How did the designer construct particular elements in the game to effect the player emotionally?
  2. Explore the influences Team Ico, Jordan Mechner, and Eric Chahi have had on each others’ work. How were these artists inspired by their colleagues’ work, and how have they built on each others’ themes and ideas? You may also examine the impact their work has had on other artists and designers (such as Team Ico’s influence on Tale of Tales).
  3. Explain how Braid utilizes a series of intertwined themes and layers to ‘braid’ together strands of narrative and meaning to create a very dense, impactful game. Jonathan Blow stated that while most people got something out of Braid, few people got everything out of it. How do players unravel each strand of its meaning? What is required to gain a more complete understanding of Braid?
  4. Explain the atomic bomb reading of Braid. How integrated is it into the game? Do you agree with this interpretation? Why or why not?
  5. Explain the concept of flow. Examine the use of flow in one of Jenova Chen’s games and compare it with one other game we have played this semester. How important is flow to this other game? You may also compare the game flOw with Cloud or Flower to explore different methods of attaining flow in games.
  6. Most of the games we examined in this section are commercial products: they are ultimately designed to be sold. We have also seen the work of Tale of Tales and Daniel Pinchbeck, who are both interested in creating a sustainable financial system that will allow them to devote all their resources to making art. Team Ico, thatgamecompany, and Jonathan Blow have demonstrated how artistic games can be commercially successful. What differences do you see between commercial and non-commercial art games? What impact do you feel commercialism has on the development of art games?

Week 14: Fluxus

For Week 14, we will examine Fluxus, a 1950s and 60s art movement that experimented with games and play.


  • Zycherman, Lynda. “Is Fluxus Fluxing and/or Should it be Conserved?” [Handout]
  • Andreson, Aaron. (5 Dec. 2008). “Allen Bukoff Interview.” Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art. Fluxus Portal for the Internet. http://www.fluxus.org/audiofile.html

This week, we will be examining the works of That Game Company, a group of talented designers that came out of the University of Southern California. TGC’s work revolves primarily around the theory of Flow, which we will be looking at as well.

On Wednesday, we will be looking at Flower and hopefully manage to play the entire game in class. If you have a copy of this game, you are encouraged to play through it prior to class. Or, if you have a PS3, you are encouraged to purchase the game, though this is not required.

Nov 14 – Flow and That Game Company

Nov 16 – Flower, In-Class Play Session