Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Another New Game Class at U-M

Word has come to us of another new game-related class being offered in Fall 2013 here at the University of Michigan:

Technology and Play

This course considers the social science of play and interactive media technology. The three central questions addressed in this course are: “What is play?”, “How does technology mediate play?”, and “What are the consequences of this mediation?” Over the semester, we’ll investigate the social scientific and humanities research on play, the structure of games, and the societal consequences of mediated play for both children and adults. A special focus will be “games for change” (a.k.a. “serious games”) that have an educational purpose. The term will be organized around competing theories of play (e.g., development, fate/chance, power, identity, fantasy, self-fulfillment, nonsense), and will be illustrated with examples from computer games. 

This is a project-based course. Throughout the semester we will work toward producing two conceptual design projects for playful technologies. These are roughly equivalent to a midterm and a final, or a short and a long paper. As these are conceptual projects, technical skills are not required.

Technology and Play

F13 M/W 4 - 5:30 p.m.
Undergraduate Section: COMM 408.001
Graduate Section: COMM 840.001
No prerequisites.

Instructor: Christian Sandvig (
Note that you must e-mail
the instructor to enroll in the graduate section.

Motion Capture in Feature Films and Video Games

A little last minute, but here's an interesting event going on in the building today:

Join us for an informal show-n-tell and open discussion around Motion Capture in feature films and video games with Marc Morisseau, an alumni of U-M and the UM3DLab. Marc is currently working for Just Cause Entertainment and played a large role in the Motion Capture for Avatar 1, Resident Evil 6, Star Trek 2, and several yet to be announced feature films. It should be an exciting discussion as Marc talks about some of his recent projects and challenges that accompany large productions.

Where: UM3D Lab, VisLab 2

             1405 Duderstadt Center

When: 04/24/2013, 12:30pm

Cost:  Free

Just Cause Entertainment:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Different Games Conference in Brooklyn, NY

Here is an interesting conference coming up this month:

Different Games is a two-day conference on diversity and inclusiveness in digital games, hosted April 26-27, 2013 at NYU’s Polytechnic Institute in downtown Brooklyn. Different Games is a space for radical discussions of representation in games and the relationship of the medium to designer and player identity. See our website at:

As game designers, theorists, journalists and players often produce their work in contexts separated by their specialized fields, we see Different Games as an opportunity to share across these professional boundaries. By presenting games, scholarship and hands-on workshops engaged with these topics, we hope to foster a dialogue between artistic, academic and commercial practice unique to how discussions of diversity and representation are able to exist in academic and industry settings. We welcome all individuals, groups and companies invested in games as creative, critical tools, and who are committed to aiding commercial game design, indie games and academic game studies to reflect the complexity, depth and diversity of all involved.

More information here:

Monday, April 15, 2013

New Video Game Classes at U-M

If you are a student here at the University of Michigan, there are a couple of new video game-related courses being offered:

For Summer 2013:
COMM 488-201, SAC 455-202 - Video Games, Culture, & Contexts
This course takes as its focus the cultural impact of video games from a number of critical perspectives. Just as movies and television have a rich history, video games develop out of a number of social, economic, and technological structures. We will examine video games as cultural texts that are part of a complex, cultural landscape—objects revealing much about cultural anxieties, ideologies, and assumptions. We will analyze a number of video game texts, ranging from early arcade style games, to console games, to PC games, to games for mobile phones. A range of genres within these game texts will be discussed, such as first person shooters, massively multi-player online games, and casual games—unpacking both the formal aspects of the game and the underlying meaning of game narratives. How and by whom are video games produced, how does the industry market particular games to its perceived audience, who plays games and why, and what is so serious about “serious” games? We will draw from a range of methodological and theoretical texts within the field of game studies: critical cultural, ethnographic, media effects, industrial, and historical. (Instructor: Julia Lange)

And for Fall 2013:
MUSPERF  300 - Video Game Music
This course surveys game music from the first synthesized "bleeps" and "bloops" to modern orchestral compositions.  Techniques are learned to aurally analyze game music.  Students will create compositions using computer software as a final project.  Course is designed for non-music majors; the ability to read standard music notation is not needed. (Instructor: Matthew Thompson)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Top Games Played During the Month of March

Here is our list of top games played during the month of March. The Xbox 360 dominates with FPS and sports games, and the Wii U is still getting plenty of love from a few very dedicated players.

1. Call of Duty: Black Ops II (Xbox 360)
2. FIFA Soccer 13 (Xbox 360)
3. NBA 2K13 (Xbox 360)
4. Blur (Xbox 360)
5. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Xbox 360)
6. (tie) New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)
6. (tie) Call of Duty: Black Ops (Xbox 360)
6. (tie) Madden NFL 13 (Xbox 360)
6. (tie) Mariokart Wii (Wii)
10. Rock Band 3 (Xbox 360)