Course Title: Critical Game Studies

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Critical Game Studies

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


345H Media and Communication


Sem 1 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 1 2014

Course Coordinator: Christian McCrea

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 99254815

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 14.11.04

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

This core course introduces concepts necessary for the critical study and analysis of digital games. It will provide a critical examination of the development and design of video games and their context within contemporary art and entertainment culture. Introductory concepts of game design, mechanics, narrative and character will be explored with reference to both traditional and new media. Emphasis will be placed on the development of critical analysis skills specifically in relation to game design and the place of games within broader society.

The course builds critical knowledge by examining the design, mechanics, narratives and characters of contemporary video games as a distinct medium, and in relation to prior forms of art and entertainment. Appropriate case studies will be analysed to extract and critique the core elements within them.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course helps in the development of the following program capabilities:
Research effectively by initiating, defining and evaluate suitable methodologies and process.
Consider ethics in practice and content while applying professional skills and knowledge.
Critically analyse and provide feedback on your own and other people’s outputs in relation to industry and academic standards.

Acquire knowledge of and critically evaluate major aesthetic, cultural and theoretical developments in video game design.
Analyse different ways in which video games reflect and contribute to the history of media and cultural transformation.

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
Demonstrate critical and analytical abilities.
Critically analyse the relationship and influences between video games and technology, and between video games and contemporary culture.
Analyse the conventions of game design and mechanics and be able to communicate it to other diverse practitioners.

Overview of Learning Activities

You will study the use and construction of video game design and its cultural significance. The focus of studies will be the use and construction of mechanics, visual aesthetic, narrative and character in videogames.  Presentations and screenings illustrating key concepts in video game design will be followed by group discussion and writing and design activities. To develop your selection and analytical skills, you will be expected to critique game design examples, including your own.

Overview of Learning Resources

Notes will be available for each lecture that summarise the key aspects of the class. Online resources will also be provided to reinforce and extend these notes. You will also engage in self-directed learning activities outside of class. Such activities involve further reading, research, reflection, planning, preparation, practice and the development of your assignments. The lecturer will provide guidance in these self-directed learning activities.

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on your ability to effectively construct and communicate critical analyses of contemporary and historical video game designs and their position within contemporary culture. Assignments consist of in-class presentations of critical analyses, critical discussion, and creative projects.