Understanding Video Games

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4/10 stars
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Course Details

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FREE

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  • On demand

Course Provider

Coursera online courses
Coursera's online classes are designed to help students achieve mastery over course material. Some of the best professors in the world - like neurobiology professor and author Peggy Mason from the University of Chicago, and computer science professor and Folding@Home director Vijay Pande - will supplement your knowledge through video lectures. They will also provide challenging assessments, interactive exercises during each lesson, and the opportunity to use a mobile app to keep up with yo...
Coursera's online classes are designed to help students achieve mastery over course material. Some of the best professors in the world - like neurobiology professor and author Peggy Mason from the University of Chicago, and computer science professor and Folding@Home director Vijay Pande - will supplement your knowledge through video lectures. They will also provide challenging assessments, interactive exercises during each lesson, and the opportunity to use a mobile app to keep up with your coursework. Coursera also partners with the US State Department to create “learning hubs” around the world. Students can get internet access, take courses, and participate in weekly in-person study groups to make learning even more collaborative. Begin your journey into the mysteries of the human brain by taking courses in neuroscience. Learn how to navigate the data infrastructures that multinational corporations use when you discover the world of data analysis. Follow one of Coursera’s “Skill Tracks”. Or try any one of its more than 560 available courses to help you achieve your academic and professional goals.

Provider Subject Specialization
Humanities
Sciences & Technology
4907 reviews

Course Description

An 11-lesson course teaching a comprehensive overview of analytical theory pertaining to video game media. Topics covered: play and game, emergence versus progression, game mechanics, story, interpretive theory, the culture of games, violence, sex and race in games, and finally, serious games. Estimated workload: 3-5 hrs/wk for non-credit; 7-10 hrs/wk for credit.
Reviews 4/10 stars
2 Reviews for Understanding Video Games

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Ricardo Teixeira profile image
Ricardo Teixeira profile image
2/10 starsCompleted
  • 86 reviews
  • 77 completed
6 years, 1 month ago
I'll start by saying that I hated this course. It made my stomach turn. It displays everything that is wrong about social sciences today. I should also say that the materials are all put online in the beginning, so you're able to do the course in one go. I found it challenging but I made a point to finish the course so that I cannot be accused of being uninformed. I finished with more than 95% on the quizzes, so I am not speaking out of spite. I was really excited about this course. "Understanding Video Games", in my view, would be actually about... video games. Their evolution, how they started, why people play them, how they relate to current events and social and artistic movements, etc. Nothing prepared me for what the course is actually about. This course is a shameful display of post-modern relativism. It is built around social theories that interpret and divide video games characteristics, and proceeds to "analyze" (it can ha... I'll start by saying that I hated this course. It made my stomach turn. It displays everything that is wrong about social sciences today. I should also say that the materials are all put online in the beginning, so you're able to do the course in one go. I found it challenging but I made a point to finish the course so that I cannot be accused of being uninformed. I finished with more than 95% on the quizzes, so I am not speaking out of spite. I was really excited about this course. "Understanding Video Games", in my view, would be actually about... video games. Their evolution, how they started, why people play them, how they relate to current events and social and artistic movements, etc. Nothing prepared me for what the course is actually about. This course is a shameful display of post-modern relativism. It is built around social theories that interpret and divide video games characteristics, and proceeds to "analyze" (it can hardly be called an analysis) them according to those frameworks. The history and evolution of video games? They take 5 minutes to get it out of the way each lecture. The reasons why people play? Nothing discernible mentioned. How they relate to the rest of the world? Oh, there was quite a lot of that... unfortunately. If you take this course, they will try to "teach" you that the back stories in games are a way to "make arguments". So if in "Civ 3" you sometimes need to go to war instead of always making peace - that's an argument about how the world works. You will "learn" that games that are purely violent, or stereotypical in general, without any context for that violence or stereotype, are just nonsense. You will "learn" that many games are "misogynistic" - and, even more striking, that "gender is a social construction" (sic). You will "learn" that race is always an issue, if for nothing else for its absence - the hero is always a white male heterosexual, after all! And "Star Trek" had you killing Klingons just because they were an alien race, teaching racism to young children! You will learn that the people who made "Medal of Honor" paid more attention to making guns sound authentic than showing the actual horrors of war - the bastards. And, of course, you'll hear about gamification on a slightly scornful tone. If this all seems like utter nonsense to you, then you are not alone. I find it shameful to pass this - which is pure ideology - for knowledge. It is unverifiable theorizing. It is empirically unverifiable. My favorite example was "Street Fighter" as a case of stereotypical racial profiling. Dalshim is Indian, and as such he practices yoga and can bend his limbs. Blanka, you'll be told, is Brazilian, and as such he is a very quick Capoeira fighter. Those racists! How dare you, Capcom? Of course, they forgot to say Dalshim's main feature is that his arms and legs extend. Is that the stereotype of Indians? That their arms extend meters in front of their bodies? And Blanka, his main feature is giving electrical shocks. That's totally stereotypical, right? After playing "Street Fighter, when I was in Brazil I was sooooo afraid to shake people's hands... If you believe the post-modern constructivist credos, you'll love this course. You will probably see the world as a paternalistic, sexist, racist place. Which is sad. If you're a reasonable person, this will all sound astonishingly bad. This course follows that same path, quoting nothing but post-modernist "thinkers" (cough cough). And as such it does the same thing that post- modernist social science does: it proposes basic ideas obscured by made-up technical terms; when you distill those ideas, they are either truisms or absolutely false. Not that those folks will admit to this - after all, if you ask a "video game theorist" about this same review, they will say I "misunderstood" the contents. Of course I did. It's the slippery way those people argue. Their claims are all obscured by their style of dialogue precisely so that it is impossible to pin them to the ground and actually assess the truth or falsity of their claims. Every single way you interpret it is, necessarily, a misinterpretation. And this is a symptom of rotten intellectualism in itself. Saying that "gender is a social construct" is purely false. It's ideology rather than knowledge. Seeing racism in having to kill Klingons is beyond unreasonable. The saddest thing is that a whole course about video games hardly ever says explicitly the main reason why people play games. Because games are f'ing FUN! Sure, games use stereotypes. Sure, princesses are there to be saved. Sure, the body count and sadism in "Manhunt" is high. And that's why we play those games. They allow us space to shed our skin and indulge in pleasures we would not want to in the real world. We get to be someone else. We are in a world of no consequence where we can be as amoral or immoral as we wish. To suggest that those games, the racist, sexist, violent-for-no-reason, stereotypical ones, are plain, boring, dangerous, bad or uninteresting, is simply to miss the point. It is the opposite of understanding video games. It's trying to bend games to the ideology of the interpreter. During the entire lectures you never see even a still picture from any game mentioned. I question why the lecture videos have no images of the video games themselves. I doubt it's a copyright issue, because the games are being used for commentary - at most, the university would need to ask permission. Is it because maybe people would find them fun and want to play the "undesirable" ones? Or is it simply because anyone who saw the actual games would understand that what's being said (again) is either trivially true or completely false (or, at the very least, meaningless)? I always recommend people check out the courses for themselves. You should definitely do the same. But don't take a passive stance. These "theories" in the social sciences have long held back their respective fields. They are relativistic, obscurantist, and just wrong. Applying them to something so free, boundless and fun as video games is sacrilege. Enough is enough.
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Jeff Winchell profile image
Jeff Winchell profile image
4/10 starsDropped
  • 91 reviews
  • 66 completed
5 years, 9 months ago
With the wealth of new MOOCs starting in September, it is hard to justify taking this class. I looked at the first handful of videos and determined that this course apparently is targeting people who have little experience with video games (i.e. people over 60). I suspect it is way too basic for the rest of the registrants. It was for me, so I dropped it.
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