WRITING GAMING - 2020/1

Module code: ELI3059

Module Overview

Gaming has existed as a mode of play and expression since the earliest times of human existence. In the latter part of the 20th and into the first two decades of the 21st Century (the period we will focus on with this module), there has been a vast expansion of the forms, modes and technologies employed in gaming and game play.
Out of wargaming and board gaming practices (and often the interfaces of these) in the post-World War II era, increasingly complex and sophisticated character and narrative focussed Role-Playing Games (RPGs) developed as well as other narrative forms that connect gaming with interactive textuality, such as gamebooks, Collectable Card Games, online interactive fiction, video games and multi-player online gaming platforms. There has been, in the early 21st century, additionally, a large increase in the number of board games being produced and played, while wargaming also remains an active and vibrant aspect of gaming culture.
An aspect of gaming that has sometimes fallen short, in ‘quality’ terms, though, is the writing that underpins both the rules systems and the ‘story’ component of games (background, character, description. narrative, dialogue, terminology, etc.) This is perhaps unsurprising as games have been primarily written by gamers rather than professional writers; many of these, of course, go on to develop their writing skills and become accomplished writers in their own right. More and more, though, creative writers are specifically incorporated into the game design and realisation processes (for both analogue and virtual gaming environments) to improve the quality of the gaming experience.

In this module students will receive an overview of the gaming field and examine aspects of this that specifically pertain to writing for games. What approaches work well for games and gaming modes? How are these different from writing for and in other forms and media? What writing skills are particularly useful? Do we have the freedom to write outside of limiting industry constraints and models? What are the new forms of writing practice that are emerging in relation to games and gaming?
We will also be interested in analysing games and gaming critically as cultural objects, and situating them within the broader context of contemporary cultural and literary theory.

This is not a module that will teach students how to code and/or produce and design video games (or, indeed commercial analogue games). We will touch on aspects of game design, game production, gaming studies, critical digital studies, etc., but the focus for this module will be on writing creatively for games: writing gaming.

Expert guest speakers from the gaming and independent gaming industries will be included in the teaching provision for this module.

If students have specific coding, visual art or musical/sound art skills that they would like to bring to their exercises and assignments, they can certainly draw on these skills, but if they don’t, that is completely fine – none of these are required for this module.

In each seminar we will first spend some time discussing the set texts and the techniques and standpoints employed by writers and other artists, before moving on to the workshop part of the session where students will produce work in accordance with the task set for that week, within and outside of the classroom. We will read and discuss a selection of pieces at the end of each class.

In addition, each week there will be a scheduled 2-hour gaming session where students will gather to explore individual and collaborative gaming in practice. Different approaches to gaming will be proposed each week, or students can opt to work during this time on longer gaming experiences and projects.

At the end of the semester students will produce a creative portfolio of gaming writing, alongside a critical commentary reflecting on the creative work produced and using theories, concepts and practices studied on the module, OR an academic critical essay examining some aspect of writing for games OR a Game Demo alongside a critical commentary reflecting on the demo produced and using theories, concepts and practices studied on the module.
Possible submissions for the creative portfolio include online interactive fiction (e.g. Twine, Squiffy), a gamebook text, a tabletop game text (board game, card game, wargame, Role-Playing Game), a game demo, a game setting, a game system, Game Design Documentation (GDD) for a proposed game, etc.

Module provider

School of Literature and Languages

Module Leader

MOONEY Stephen (Lit & LangsLit & LangsLit & Langs)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

JACs code:

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

none

Module content

The following areas are indicative of topics to be covered:

• Gaming Introductions
• Gamebooks, Wargames, Board Games, Collectable Card Games
• Tabletop Role-Playing Games (RPGs)
• Digital Storytelling
• Videogames & Multi-Player Online Games
• World Building: Setting, Genre, Background/Foreground
• Character
• Narrative | Structure
• Systems: Mechanics & Rules
• The Industry & Game Production
• Independent Games

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Creative Portfolio & Critical Commentary OR Critical Essay OR Game Demo & Critical Commentary 100

Alternative Assessment

N/A

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:
• the development in their knowledge and understanding of literary and creative texts and textual practices, especially in relation to gaming and gaming theory
• their understanding of the social, cultural, historical and geographical contexts for the production of literary and creative texts and of the way those texts intervene in related discourses
• their understanding of interactive textuality in relation to creativity and the formal and aesthetic dimensions of literary and creative texts
• their development of research and writing skills
• productive and informed critical reflection on both the literary writing itself and the critical and secondary material that surrounds it, and/or both the creative process itself and the finished work that has resulted from it
Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

Creative Portfolio (2400 words or equivalent) plus critical commentary (600 words)
OR Critical Essay (3000 words)
OR Game Demo (equivalent to 2400 words) plus critical commentary (600 words)

Formative assessment and feedback

Verbal feedback in class, written and/or oral feedback on one piece of creative writing (maximum of 1000 words of prose or equivalent for poetry, game demo, screenplay, dramatic script, graphic novel or other static visual media, or film or other moving visual media).

Formative ‘feed forward’ is provided through seminar discussions, tutor feedback in seminars, and a range of other feedback mechanisms agreed between tutor and students in week 1 of the module, such as seminar contribution and writing and play exercises.

Module aims

  • • Develop in students a thorough critical understanding of gaming textuality and writing practices in the context of contemporary gaming culture through a range of prose, poetic, dramatic and visual texts
  • • Develop the ability in students to analyse and appraise compositional styles and techniques in modes of writing and representation pertaining to the broader gaming field, and apply critical insights to their own writing practices AND/OR published works
  • • Facilitate the acquisition of the detailed knowledge and skills necessary for producing gaming, and game related, writing and other creative production
  • • Help students attain the ability to apply critical awareness to one’s own creative production AND/OR published works
  • • Encourage students to work as a group in the production of collaborative work in the workshop context
  • • Foster semi-structured individual and communal gameplay with its consequent development of gaming practice within the architecture of the module
  • • Encourage students to submit work for publication

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 By the end of the module students will have: gained significant confidence and ability in critically analysis and thinking C
002 • gained an ability to use specific compositional skills that will have practical application to their practices as writers KPT
003 • more fully developed their sense of their own practice as writers and/or that of other writers in relation to gaming, and game related, composition practices that have had, and continue to have, significant impact upon and significance for contemporary culture and cultural production KPT
004 • developed a stronger sense of the materials and techniques available to them as writers, and to other writers, and begun to locate this work within the context of contemporary writing both within and outside of the game writing field CKP
005 • established a knowledge of the context of both conventional and radical and experimental writing practices that have been developed in relation to games and gaming theory, and have begun to locate this work within the context of contemporary writing K

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 2

Independent Study Hours: 104

Seminar Hours: 22

Practical/Performance Hours: 22

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

• Hone and develop students’ writing skills in academic writing, and/or creative writing (prose fiction, poetry, screenwriting and/or game writing and other modes of production) by helping students understand the context of traditional and canonical as well as radical and experimental writing practices that have been developed in relation to games and gaming theory and connecting these to contemporary art and literary practices.
• Assist students in locating literary texts and their critical writing, and/or their creative work in historical and cultural contexts by developing a stronger sense of the materials and techniques available to them as writers, and thereby helping them begin to locate their work within the context of contemporary writing
• Equip students with the research and writing skills they will need to produce critically informed academic writing, and/or creative writing (prose fiction, poetry, screenwriting and/or game writing and other modes of production) and creative criticism by helping them gain significant confidence and ability in critically analysis and thinking, and an ability to use specific compositional skills that will have practical application to their practices as writers

The learning and teaching methods include:

2 hour seminar x 11 weeks.
2 hour gaming session x 11 weeks.
2 hour portfolio or essay-planning session.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Reading list for WRITING GAMING : http://aspire.surrey.ac.uk/modules/eli3059

Other information

n/a

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
English Literature with Politics BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature with Sociology BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature and French BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature and Spanish BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature with German BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature with Film Studies BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics with Creative Writing BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
English Literature with Creative Writing BA (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2020/1 academic year.