Course Description: This course offered in Fall 2012 explores the emerging game genre of transmedia, pervasive, or alternate reality gaming. Transmedia games are not bound by any single medium or hardware system. Conventionally, they use the real world as their primary platform while incorporating text, video, audio, live performance, phone calls, email, websites, and locative technologies. The stories that organize most of these games are nonlinear and broken into discrete pieces that audiences must discover and actively reassemble. The participants who play these games must generally collaborate to solve puzzles. Throughout the quarter, we will approach new media theory through the history, aesthetics, and design of transmedia games. For all of their novelty, these games build on the narrative strategies of novels, the performative role-playing of theater, the branching narratives of electronic literature, the procedural qualities of videogames, and the team dynamics of sports contests. Moreover, their genealogical roots stretch back to a diverse series of gaming practices such as nineteenth-century English letterboxing, the Polish tradition of podchody, scavenger hunts, assassination games, and pervasive Live Action Role-Playing games. An understanding of these related forms will be critical to our analytical and creative work.
Course requirements include weekly blog entry responses to theoretical readings; an analytical midterm paper; avid engagement in discussion and design; and collaborative participation in a single narrative-based transmedia game project created by the class that will run on campus, in the city of Chicago, and/or online. No preexisting technical expertise is required. Since transmedia games draw on numerous skill sets, students will be able to contribute with a background in any of the following areas: creative writing, literary or media theory, web design, visual art, computer programming, music, and game design.
For more details, check out the course blog here.