Video Game Theory

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 13 December 2024
16 August 2022


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module aims to consider the significance, history, culture and impact of video games. It fosters critical thinking by inviting students to consider issues central to the historical, theoretical and aesthetical dimensions of computer games and computer game theory.

In this digital age of Web 2.0 gaming and interactive media is ubiquitous and consistently redefines our relationship to games and other external players. Gaming is constantly evolving, and as new consoles emerge other platforms and experiences of gaming become obsolete. How do we keep up with this constant change and where does this leave older games and players? Why is gaming and rule-based environments significant to culture? – chess for example dates back to the 15th century and is still widely enjoyed today, reformed in gaming apps bringing together global players to a rule-based environment played out on a screen.

This module explores different historical and contemporary ideas of gaming from debates about interactive fiction and storytelling to phenomenological ideas of the game’s controller and avatar and how they extend players into virtual spaces. It will consider a range of topics including: gender, ethnicity, violence, capital, contemporary art, while turning a critical eye inwards to discussions on ludology, immersion, procedural rhetoric, cyber-individualism, embodiment, avatars and ludonarrative dissonance. Through a close consideration of video game theory, students will reflect on how gaming has evolved to become an even larger industry than that of film.

Module aims

This module aims to foster students’ critical thinking by inviting them to consider what game theory is and how it has changed through developments in media. Through close consideration of games, consoles and theorists, students will reflect on how game studies have evolved. Please note, this a theoretical course and not a practical one. It focuses on game theory rather than the mechanics of game design.

Module learning outcomes

After successful completion of the module, students should be able to:
1. display a detailed knowledge of game theory.
2. recognise key ideas, debates and authors in the emerging field of game theory.
3. consider the impact of games studies through specific media (games, cinema and social media)
4. demonstrate the knowledge and skills required to engage in intellectual debates around the issues of game studies.

Module information

Indicative syllabus:

1. Gaming as a contemporary and cultural practice
2. Serious games and games as an art form
3. Gaming and obsolescence
4. Gaming and storytelling
5. Gaming and gender
6. Gaming and phenomenology
7. Gaming and currency
8. Gaming and mental wellbeing
9. Mobile and locative gaming
10. Gaming and its relation to cinema

Learning and teaching methods

The module will be taught via weekly two-hour seminars. Each week, students will watch/experience suggested games via YouTube/Twitch and other accessible platforms. Students will consider the texts on the syllabus in relation to the issues they address, the historical contexts in which they were created, and their bearing on our own historical moment. Information about the module will be provided on Moodle.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Video Essay (5-7mins) with 1000 word supporting statement    95% 
Coursework   Participation    5% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Daniel O'Brien, email:
Dr Dan O’Brien
LiFTS General Office, email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Dr Andrew Birtwistle
Canterbury Christ Church University
Reader in Film and Sound
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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