Print Version

Effective: Summer 2014

Grade Type: Letter Grade, the student may select Pass/No Pass
Not Repeatable.
FHGE: Non-GE Transferable: CSU; UC pending
4 hours lecture, 1 hour laboratory. (60 hours total per quarter)

Description -
The impact of games and game technology on popular culture. Topics will include early history including the first games and their broader impact on the development of computer technologies, the birth of the arcade game beginning with Atari's Pong and resulting in a multi-billion dollar industry, eight generations of home video game consoles from the Magnavox Odyssey through the present day, the appearance of the home computer and its impact on video games, the evolution of the handheld game console from simple LCD games through current mobile devices , and online gaming from the early dial-up bulletin board systems through the current massively multi-player online roll-playing games. For each historical era, the influence of video games on popular culture will be demonstrated through film, television, and music.

Course Objectives -
The student will be able to:
  1. Describe and discuss the history of video games from its origins to the present.
  2. Analyze video game technology and how it affected game content and aesthetics.
  3. Identify the major periods of video game development from the first experiments with mainframe computers through modern arcade, computer, and console-based games.
  4. Write comprehensive analyses of the impact of video games on popular culture.
Special Facilities and/or Equipment -
  1. When taught on campus: classroom sound equipment for compact discs, audiotape and records, screen, overhead projector, digital projector, VCR and DVD.
  2. When taught via Foothill Global Access: on-going access to computer with Email software and capabilities; Email address; Java-script enabled internet browsing software.

Course Content (Body of knowledge) -
  1. Early History
    1. Computer Technologies
    2. Interactive Graphical Programs
  2. Video Arcade Games
    1. Early Arcade Video Games
    2. The Golden Age
    3. The Decline of Arcades
  3. Home Video Game Consoles
    1. First Generation Consoles
    2. Second Generation Consoles
    3. 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit Consoles
    4. Alternate Controllers
    5. Motion Control
    6. Modern 64-bit Consoles
  4. Home Computer Games
    1. Clones of Mainframe and Arcade Classics
    2. Gaming Computers
    3. Casual PC Games
  5. Handheld Video Games
    1. Early Handheld LCD Games
    2. Second Generation Handhelds
    3. The Handheld Console
    4. Mobile Phone Gaming
  6. Online Video Games
    1. Early Text-Based Games
    2. Multi-User Dungeons
    3. Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games
Methods of Evaluation -
  1. Module quizzes on each of the topic areas.
  2. Essays in response to prompts that ask for critical exploration of a topic related to the parts of the course or game reviews.
  3. Final Examination or Comprehensive Project: in-depth analysis of video games including technological and artistic influences, comparison of video game structural characteristics, cultural impact of video games, interpretation of game dialog, etc.
Representative Text(s) -
Bissell, Tom. Why Video Games Matter. London: Vintage, 2011.
Goldberg, Harold. All Your Base Are Belong to Us: How Fifty Years of Videogames Conquered Pop Culture. London: Three Rivers Press, 2011.
Kent, Steven. The Ultimate History of Video Games. London: Three Rivers Press, 2011.

Disciplines -
Commercial Music
Method of Instruction -
  1. Lecture presentations and classroom discussion of the impact of video games on popular culture.
  2. In-class viewing of historically significant video games followed by instructor-guided interpretation and analysis.
  3. Group presentations of major projects followed by in-class discussion and evaluation.
Lab Content -
  1. Laboratory activities are provided for students to gain a theoretical knowledge regarding video game characteristics (story, graphics, sound), genre, and style. The lab content includes:
    1. In-depth, guided study of video game examples.
    2. Additional opportunities are provided through critical analysis of music, films and documentaries.
    3. Learning is assessed in module quizzes and essays.
Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing and Outside of Class Assignments -
  1. Reading Assignments: Reading of modules for each of the module topics plus online summary.
  2. Writing Assignments: Essays responding to a prompt.