Teaching (Computer Games and Society)

SM6332 Computer Games and Society; Semester B 2018

Location: CMC Building, m4003;
Time: January 15 to April 23, 2018; Monday, 7pm to 10pm.
Instructor: Assistant Professor Yong Ming Kow, yongmkow [at] cityu [dot] edu [dot] hk
Facebook: kowym [at] facebook [dot] com
For report submission: sm6332computergames@gmail.com

See course description.

This graduate level course is structured around weekly readings, reflection of these readings, and sharing with fellow students thoughts behind these reflections. At the end of the course, students should be ready to conduct independent research (i.e., on academic and professional publications) regarding topics in computer games and society.


(1) Weekly reflections: A critical analysis for every assigned reading in that particular week. Reflections will contribute 50% of your final grades.

In each of the weekly three hours session, we will focus on one to two research papers (or book chapters) on computer games and society.

Before each class, we will:
(1) Read each of these readings carefully and critically;
(2) Pick one of these readings, a paper or a book chapter, and write a reflection that is between 300 to 500 words;
(3) Print out each reflection; and bring it to class.

During a class, we will discuss one paper (or book chapter) in turn. Each student will:
(1) Take turns to tell the class what you think about the paper (e.g., strengths, weaknesses, or research gaps);
(2) Other students are given time to respond;
(3) We will go round the table until everyone has spoken;
(4) Hand in your written reflections to me at the end of the class.

(2) Final report: A research paper, between 2500 and 3000 words, summarizing and critiquing published works on a game research topic of your own choosing.

On either week 7 or 8, you will schedule an individual meeting with me to discuss a games topic you like to research on (i.e., to read relevant articles, summarize the key points, and criticize the current research work). Please sign up to meet me in this Google document. There will not be formal classes during these two weeks.

By April 30, 2018, submit your research paper, between 2500 and 3000 words, to sm6332computergames@gmail.com, in any standard WORD processor formats (e.g., .doc); no late submissions.

Students’ final grades will be calculated based on weekly reflections and the final report.

Information below will be updated through the semester, so stay tune. (Edited on January 15, 2018.)

Weekly Schedule:

Week 1 (Jan 15): Introduction to games research

Week 2 (Jan 22): Modding, cheating, and creative play
Reading 1: Kücklich, J., 2005. Precarious Playbour: Modders and the Digital Games Industry. Fibreculture Journal, 5. url
Reading 2: Consalvo, M. (2007). Gaining Advantage: How Videogame Players Define and Negotiate Cheating, In Consalvo, Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Videogames. The MIT Press. download

Week 3 (Jan 29): Electronic sports and competitive cultures
Reading 1: Jin, Dal Yong, 2008. Age of New Media Empires: A Critical Interpretation of the Korea Online Game Industry. Games and Culture, 3, 1.
Reading 2: Taylor, T. L. 2012. Playing for Keeps. In Taylor, Raising the Stakes: E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming. MIT Press.

Week 4 (Feb 5): Worlds of massively multiplayer online games and virtual worlds
Reading 1: Williams, et al., 2006. From Tree House to Barracks: The Social Life of Guilds in World of Warcraft. Games and Culture, 1, 4.
Reading 2: Nardi, B., 2010. My Life as a Night Elf Priest: An Anthropological Account of World of Warcraft. Excerpts. First Monday, 15, 7.

Week 5 (Feb 12): Examining social data
Reading 1: Emile Durkheim, 1982. What is a social fact? In The Rules of the Sociological Method, (Ed. by Steven Lukes; trans. by W.D. Halls). New York: Free Press, 1982, pp. 50-59.
Reading 2: Paul Rabinow, 1986. Representations Are Social Facts: Modernity and Post-modernity in Anthropology. In Cliifford and Marcus, Writing Culture. University of California Press.

Week 6 (Feb 19): No class: Chinese New Year week

Week 7 (Feb 26): Individual consultations (sign up on the Google Doc, and come to my office at your designated time slot)

Week 8 (Mar 5): Individual consultations (sign up on the Google Doc, and come to my office at your designated time slot)

Week 9 (Mar 12): Game industry
Reading 1: Tschang, T., 2007. Balancing the Tensions Between Rationalization and Creativity in the Video Games Industry. Organization Science, 18, 6.
Reading 2: Kelly, W., 2010. Censoring Violence in Virtual Dystopia: Issues in the Rating of Video Games in Japan and of Japanese Video Games Outside Japan,  in J. Talmadge Wright, A. Lukacs and D.G. Embrick (eds) Utopic Dreams and Apocalyptic Fantasies: Critical Approaches to Researching Video Game Play, Lexington Books, Chapter 8.

Week 10 (Mar 19): RMT and virtual economies
Reading 1: Heeks, R. 2010. Understanding “Gold Farming” and Real-Money Trading as the Intersection of Real and Virtual Economies. Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, 2, 4.
Reading 2: Nardi and Kow, 2010. Digital Imaginaries: How We Know What We (Think We) Know about Chinese Gold Farming. First Monday, 15, 6.

Week 11 (Mar 26): Games and learning
Reading 1: Sonia Livingstone (2007) DO THE MEDIA HARM CHILDREN?, Journal of Children and Media, 1:1, 5-14
Reading 2: James Paul Gee, 2003. Learning by Design: good video games as learning machines. ACM Computers in Entertainment, Vol. 1, No. 1.

Week 12 (Apr 2): No class. Easter break.

Week 13 (Apr 9): Games user research and design
Reading 1: Salen, Katie, 2003. Rules of Play. Chapter 2: The Design Process. link
Reading 2: Nielsen, Jakob (2016). Game User Research: What’s Different? link

Week 14 (Apr 16): Intellectual property and legal dilemmas
Reading 1: Burk, Dan, 2009. Copyright and Paratext in Computer Gaming, UC Irvine Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2009-22. download
Reading 2: Lessig, L. 2006. Cyberspaces. In Code 2.0. download

Week 15 (Apr 23): Open topic


Further readings:

Beach, K. (1999). Consequential Transitions: A Sociocultural Expedition Beyond Transfer in Education. Review of Research in Education, 24 .

boyd, d. (2014). It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Dewey. Experience and Education.

Fuhrer, U. (1993). Living in Our Own Footprints – and in Those of Others: Cultivation as Transaction. The Quarterly Newsletter of the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition, 15, 1 .

Greenhow, C., Robelia, B., & Hughes, J. E. (2009). Learning, Teaching, and Scholarship in a Digital Age: Web 2.0 and Classroom Research: What path should we take now? Educational Researcher, 38 .

Hart, B., & Risley, T. R. (2003). The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3. American Educator, Spring 2003 .

Ito, M., Baumer, S., Bittani, M., boyd, d., Cody, R., Herr-Stephenson, B., et al. (2009). Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Jenkins, H. (2009). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Lemke, J., Lecusay, R., Cole, M., & Michalchik, V. (2012). Documenting and Assessing Learning in Informal and Media-Rich Environments: A Report to the MacArthur Foundation. macfound.org: The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning.

Scribner, S., & Cole, M. (1973). Cognitive Consequences of Formal and Informal Education. Science, New Series, 182, 4112 .


See readings.