WRITING GAMING - 2020/1
Module code: ELIM051
In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, and in a departure from previous academic years and previously published information, the University has had to change the delivery (and in some cases the content) of its programmes, together with certain University services and facilities for the academic year 2020/21.
These changes include the implementation of a hybrid teaching approach during 2020/21. Detailed information on all changes is available at: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/coronavirus/course-changes. This webpage sets out information relating to general University changes, and will also direct you to consider additional specific information relating to your chosen programme.
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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.
School of Literature and Languages
MOONEY Stephen (Lit & Langs)
Number of Credits: 15
ECTS Credits: 7.5
Framework: FHEQ Level 7
Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A
Prerequisites / Co-requisites
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
• Narrative | Structure
• Systems: Mechanics & Rules
• The Industry & Game Production
• Independent Games
|Assessment type||Unit of assessment||Weighting|
|Coursework||Creative Portfolio & Critical Commentary OR Critical Essay OR Game Demo & Critical Commentary||100|
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
• a range of subject specific and transferable skills gained in critical and creative thinking, in the production of critical and creative texts, and of practical support in the development of employability and/or creative practice skills
Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:
a Creative Portfolio (3000 words or equivalent) plus critical commentary (1500 words)
OR Critical Essay (4500 words)
OR Game Demo (equivalent to 3000 words) plus critical commentary (1500 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.
- • 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, to critically develop their thinking about their own practice as writers, AND/OR that of other writers, and to present this in cogent terms
- • 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
- • Facilitate the examination of the theorisation and conceptualisation of gaming, and game related, writing critically alongside the practices and published texts produced in relation to it
- • Develop in students an advanced understanding of the connections between gaming conventions and practices and literary practices in the context of contemporary cultural theory
|001||• 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|
|006||• produced work individually and in groups, as well as have been introduced to intermedial collaborative ideas||CT|
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 more fully developing their sense of their own practice as writers in relation to traditional, contemporary and experimental practices that have been developed in relation to games and gaming theory that have had, and continue to have, a significant formative effects on contemporary gaming, literature, film and culture
• Assist students in locating literary texts and their critical writing, and/or their creative work in historical and cultural contexts by helping students understand the context of traditional and canonical as well as radical and experimental writing practices that connect games, gaming and gaming theory to contemporary art and literary practices.
• 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
• Facilitate in students productive reflection on both the creative process itself and the finished work by helping them gain significant confidence and ability in critical 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.
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ELIM051
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.