• Introduction

    Game.Play.Design in the Arts and Humanities

    This course introduces you to core concepts and theories within the field of game studies, game jams and game design.

    Unit I: Game studies: what’s in a game
    Unit 1 will introduce you to the definition of games, core concepts and theories from game studies – the study of digital games – as well as the cultural importance of games and the critical potentials and possibilities of change that games hold.

    Unit II: Game design and game jams: tools, activities and processes
    Unit 2 will introduce you to the process of designing games (also for newcomers and non-designers), the game jam format and the potentials and benefits of doing game jams within you context or study. You will get to make a game concept in 10 minutes as well as try out the game jam format. Also you will get some concrete examples of game jams and insight into game design based on the double-diamond design process.

    Unit 3 and Unit 4 will present concrete cases that put theory and methods into practice.

    Unit III: Game jamming in and with the public
    In Unit 3 you will experience the case of using game jams to push our thinking about a certain subject area and the way we can externalise that thinking into a game design that pushes our academic thinking and practice to the edge of what we think is currently possible to do and experience with the game medium. Also, you will gain insight into how doing ‘academic game jams’ or game jams as part of formal higher education is experienced by students, teachers and industry.

    Unit IV: benefits and potentials of game design and game jams
    In Unit 4 you will experience how setting up game exhibitions for and with the public can serve as a core driver in a MA course where students come together from different subject fields and institutions to work on a common theme that benefits wider society through making games. The case documents one such instance under the theme of ‘Values in games / Valuable games: playing in, with and for the public’. Also, you will hear international scholars from the field of higher education practice reflect on the benefits of using game design as a pedagogy in MA courses along with reactions from the public and students reflecting on the learning experience compared to more traditional ways of doing higher education.

    Course developers: 

    Rikke Toft Nørgård, Assistant Professor in Educational Design and Technology, Aarhus University, Denmark. Rikke holds a PhD in Game Studies and Game Design and she has for the last 10 years been researching and teaching digital games and design. Rikke works at the intersections of digital humanities, design, educational development and future higher education. A focus of her research is within higher education philosophy and theory on design, thinking and configuration of higher education institutions with a special focus on the future of the Arts and Humanities. She has also led and participated in several projects on developing educational materials, modules and formats for students and teachers, exploring how higher education can be transformed through digital humanities pedagogy, student-society partnerships and leveraging the potentials of design and technology within the Arts.
    Claus Toft-Nielsen, Assistant Professor, School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University, Denmark. Claus is an avid gamer, holds a PhD in media and game studies, and has been researching digital games and game cultures for more than a decade. His research focuses on digital games with a specific interest in games and fan studies, game genres and gamers wider transmedia engagement, as well as a focus on the intersections of gameplay, gaming practices and gender. Parallel to this, he has also been teaching numerous courses on game studies, theoretical perspectives on games and gaming, as well as digital games and learning.

    Jeanette Falk Olesen is a PhD fellow at Department of Digital Design and Information Studies at Aarhus University. During her PhD project, she has researched how design processes are influenced and accelerated by both game jam and hackathon formats. She uses a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods to gain insights into these accelerated design processes, including participating in game jams and hackathons herself. Her work has included studying how game jam and hackathon formats can be adapted to facilitate creativity and support academic processes, such as teaching, learning and researching. Her research interests include how processes of imagining, designing and developing technology can be democratised for example via formats which accelerates design processes, and via maker materials which lowers the barrier to technology development. She is also one of the founders of an Aarhus-based game development meet-up group, called GOLD.

    Mikey Bruun Andersen is a MA Information Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark. He is currently involved in developing teaching and learning platforms at the Centre for Teaching Development and Digital Media, Aarhus University where he focuses on programming and front-end development of educational materials and platforms. Mikey’s MA Thesis focuses on hybrid learning and work spaces and how technologies can be utilized to support new hybrid communication, collaboration and community formats. He is also chairperson of Coding Pirates Aarhus, where he leads and organises game jams and game design processes in partnerships between students, youngsters and the creative industries. Coding Pirates Denmark is an association with many local chapters, hundreds of volunteers (many of them HE students) and thousands of youngsters and children. In the clubs, Coding Pirates volunteers work together with the creative industries to organise game jams, hackathon and events that support and develop youngsters it-creative capabilities in designing, making, programming and presenting their own games to society and their local communities. In this course, his contribution is both as front-end developer of the course material as well as a creative industry partner in the game jam and design processes presented.