The theory of play is a new and rapidly expanding field of academic research, which is closely connected to the rapid development of computer games as a cutting-edge art form. This course is an introduction to the basic theoretical questions concerning the nature of games and play. Rather than focusing exclusively on digital games, a broad spectrum of play activities will be discussed.
Students will reflect on fundamental concepts like “play” and “games”. Designing with constraints (rules or limitations) is a fruitful approach, not only to the design of games but also in cinema, literature, and other forms. Class discussions and exercises will encourage reflection on the nature, typology, and function of game rules. Students will analyze and modify existing games by changing their rules. The difference between play and everyday life will be considered through exercises that encourage students to design games for everyday public spaces. Social and cultural aspects of games will also be considered.
Although the nature of the course is essentially theoretical, students will be required to produce creative projects to fulfill course requirements. Students are free to choose their preferred creative medium. They can, for instance: design games or toys; create multimedia performances that play with urban space; or develop forms of play in literature, film, or interactive formats. The relationship between theory and practice will always be at the forefront. Students must demonstrate an ability to integrate critical reflection and practical creation; this is the core skill that this course aims to nurture.