This page will be a work in progress for a while. I’m telling myself that I’ll do a better job of sharing my work, including the syllabi that I use for my courses at UW Bothell and other places. It looks like the last time I did this was 2013 when I was sharing drafts of a new course! Yikes, sorry.

Back then, I guess I thought seeing the evolution of a syllabus would be useful for peeps. I think that’s still interesting, but now I have a trove of syllabi where you can see the changes between quarters rather than changes between drafts for one instance of the course, starting from 2013! So, yeah, that’s why this page will take a while. I need to dig those syllabi up. I’ll be dropping them into this folder:

Spring 2020: Adjustments due to the novel coronavirus! YIKES!

BIS236 Spring 2020: Intro to Interactive Media

Ok. So this had to change due to the possibility that UW would run all spring quarter courses online. I made these changes anticipating that would happen rather than wait for the official announcement.

Anyway, during the previous quarter, it seemed like it became clearer and clearer that there’s this consistent through-line for the readings that build up over the first 8 or 9 weeks, reaching a crescendo of “holy shit, we’re truly fucked, aren’t we” as more and more of the readings cover algorithmic culture and our loss of control, fake news and bullshit, trolls, misogyny, etc.

Typically, my final lecture for the course gives an overview of all the readings for the whole quarter and then ends with an examination of Bernie DeKoven’s The Well-Played Game as a potential remedy to what ails the world (i.e., it’s a great hippy sort of vision to combat capitalism). The problem is that this consistent build-up isn’t necessarily apparent until I make the explicit connection for students towards the end, which is fine because I don’t want to overwhelm them at the beginning. But since we’re going fully online, I decided to try to make the interconnectedness of it and the whole point of it less subtle and really lean in on it this Spring Quarter.

The current plan is to start recording presentations to be delivered online so I’ll be sure to emphasize this through-line. I wrote down relatively verbose speaker notes for the last presentation, but I think it’ll help the students hear me making these arguments.

Slides for the last lecture:

A player’s philosophy for dealing with the world: An exploration of game definitions and DeKoven’s The Well-Played Game

Winter 2020

BIS236 Winter 2020: Intro to Interactive Media

I basically teach this every quarter now so I have a whole bunch of these to upload (tho, I was away from UWB for two years)… something like 15 iterations of this!

The course is essentially a media studies course that focuses on social media, games, and other interactive media. We cover current topics and controversies, such as in 2016/2017 adding in a week on fake news.

There’s a quarter-long project to create a hybrid interactive thing that has a physical component as well as a digital component. This started out as just a Twine game, but then I really got into ctrl-alt-GDC that year and decided to have the students make hybrid games. That later changed into a hybrid story and then a hybrid artifact. Now it’s an artifact from the future, and this year the main themes are climate change and mental health and how people 50 years from now are doing related to those issues.

BIS313 Winter 2020: Gaming Culture

That first course on Games Studies I taught at UWB was also a BIS313 course, which is the school’s catch-all course number for special topics, meaning it’s entirely dependent on whoever is teaching it and whether they successfully pitched a one-shot course to the school. I actually inherited the course from Robertson Allen who was going off to Germany to take a postdoc position, so I took his syllabus and reworked it a bit.

Later, I started teaching the BIS 236 course and incorporated a lot of what I did for 313 into it, such as the game design project. In the early iterations of 236, I also had students create Let’s Play videos where they reviewed a game from an academic standpoint. It never worked well given how short the quarter is and how much other stuff I jammed into the curriculum so I eventually removed that LP assignment.

Last year for Fall 2018, I was able to teach 313 again, and this time make it all about Critical Let’s Plays. The readings have more of a focus on inclusion in games and gaming culture rather than game studies, but it’s still sort of a kitchen sink course. The CLPs were great; that extra time of a full quarter instead of just like half the quarter really let them turn out well. (I’ll try to do a better job of finding and linking to them here, too…)

So, yeah, this coming quarter, I’ll be doing the Critical Let’s Plays again with a bunch of readings on representation, inclusion, and such as well as how to read a game, how to define them, etc.

Thoughts on Syllabi Design

It’ll be more apparent when I get a chance to upload the old ones here, but every quarter I work pretty hard to make the syllabus more readable. This year, I’ve started to separate out details about the main assignments into their own separate documents (which I’ve appended to the PDFs for the courses).

The syllabi are always a Google doc that I share with students with edit permissions. They can mark up the syllabus and highlight what’s important, etc. and, so far, I’ve only had like 2 people delete things! 🙂

Last Spring, I was asked to teach an intro web design course. It seemed like the syllabus for that should be on a website so I threw something together in github. If you’re interested, here’s the link: UWB BIMD 233: Intro Web Design

The nice thing about the web version is that you can do things like dropdowns and collapsible content. But it’s not readily editable by others so I opted not to do the same for my other courses.

sporadic ramblings of a gamer in academia