[-empyre-] On teaching serious games...

Joseph Delappe delappe at unr.edu
Fri Mar 15 02:11:37 EST 2013

In response to Claudia's question on teaching video games.  I helped create a new interdisciplinary program at UNR called "Serious Games".  This is an initiative between three programs, Art, Journalism and Computer Science.  This allows for an encourages and interesting mix of tech types, artists, advertising majors (from Journalism) and of course journalists.  I have specifically one class in my progression of courses, "Critical Play: Computer Games and Art" (I also touch on games throughout the curriculum, mixing it in with the diversity of activities going on in contemporary art practice utilizing new technologies).

The course involves perhaps an unusual approach to teaching "serious games".  We start out by working several weeks on small group produced Machinima's.  Specifically the assignment is to choose a two minute long sequence or the trailer from the American Film Institutes top 100 American Films http://www.afi.com/100years/movies10.aspx

The chosen sequence or trailer is then recreated as a Machnima, preserving the original soundtrack.  The results have been rather amazing - the assignment encourages collaboration,  the consideration of Machinima as a type of DIY, re-purposing of existing games or virtual communities for creative ends while at the same time exposing students to the history of film.  Here are some recent examples:

2001 A Space Odyssey http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-mk1GtBGt3Q
The Graduate http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ShnWgFrULfo
Pulp Fiction http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JIewVrt3HU

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