Module UXS-1800:
Game Studies

Module Facts

Run by School of Music and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Melissa Kagen

Overall aims and purpose

Good game design requires knowing what makes games fun. In this module you will learn core principles and theory of play and games and look at the varieties of play that can be designed in a game. Each week we will play and critially debate influential and successful games, working to understand how rules and mechanics create an immersive, fun experience. We will also consider the aesthetics of the game and the game world, the impact that narrative, character, players, visuals, plot and music all contribute to the game experience. Games are produced to entertain, and they are part of an entertainment industry and a modern gaming society. We will consider the designers role in and responsibility to that industry and society and the ethical issues it raises.

Course content

  • Principles and theory of games and of play
  • Immersion, presence, flow
  • History of video games and video game industry
  • Relationship between games, culture and society
  • Elements of games (narrative, aesthetics, dynamics, mechanics, players and audience)
  • Video game genres

Assessment Criteria


Good (C- to B+)

  • Strong knowledge of key areas/principles
  • Understanding of theoretical underpinnings
  • Evidence of background study
  • Limited original interpretation
  • Well known links between topics are described
  • Problems addressed by existing methods/approaches
  • Good presentation with accurate communication


Excellent (A- to A**)

  • Comprehensive knowledge
  • Detailed understanding
  • Extensive background study
  • Original interpretation
  • New links between topics are developed
  • New approach to a problem
  • Excellent presentation with very accurate communication


Threshold (D- to D+)

  • Knowledge of key areas/principles only
  • Weaknesses in understanding of main areas
  • Limited evidence of background study
  • No original interpretation
  • Only major links between topics are described
  • Limited problem solving
  • Many weaknesses in presentation and accuracy

Learning outcomes

  1. Recognize the relationship between games, culture and society

  2. Understand and apply basic game principles and theory

  3. Evaluate relation of games to modern history of video games and video game industry

  4. Analyse and present a game not studied in class

  5. Critically analyse a game in terms of narrative, aesthetics, game play mechanics and audience

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight

Students submit 10 forum entries of 400 words each analyzing the week's game case studies. Students must include their own research or external reading, and must engage in discussion on the forum.

Participation 10
Group Game Presentation` 30

Teaching and Learning Strategy


1 hour lecture / seminar discussion every week


Weekly game sessions to play and analyse video gameplay and design, applying theory from lectures and seminars to published games


2 hour weekly workshop playing and analyzing group games

Private study

Researching weekly topics and team preparation for seminar leading


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • engage critically with major thinkers and debates within the field, putting them to productive use
  • consider and evaluate their own work in a reflexive manner, with reference to academic codes of practice and/or professional conventions, issues and debates. (Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies 5.3)
  • locate, retrieve, evaluate and draw upon the range of data, sources and the conceptual frameworks appropriate to research in the chosen area (Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies 5.3)
  • initiate, develop and realise distinctive and creative work within various forms of writing or of aural, visual, audio-visual, sound or other electronic and digital media (Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies 5.4)
  • experiment, as appropriate, with forms, conventions, languages, techniques and practices (Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies 5.4)
  • draw upon and bring together ideas from different sources of knowledge and from different academic disciplines (Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies 5.4)
  • work in flexible, creative and independent ways, showing self-discipline awareness of relevant ethical considerations, self-direction and reflexivity (Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies 5.6)
  • organise and manage supervised, self-directed projects v communicate effectively in interpersonal settings, in writing and in a variety of media (Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies 5.6)
  • work productively in a group or team, showing abilities at different times to listen, contribute and also to lead effectively (Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies 5.6)
  • deliver work to a given length, format, brief and deadline, properly referencing sources and ideas and making use, as appropriate, of a problem-solving approach (Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies 5.6)


Resource implications for students

There are no special costs for students on this module, but students are encouraged to buy the core texts.

Talis Reading list

Reading list

Core texts

Fullerton, T. (2014) Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games. Boca Rotan, FL: CRC Press.

Salen, K & Zimmerman, E. (2003) Rules of Play. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Pre-requisite of:

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: