Storytelling in Video Games

CMS 4804 Storytelling in Video Games examines the ways that recent video games mobilize traditional narrative elements like plot, character, setting, and genre. Links to other sections of this syllabus can be found in the header menu as well as the General Class Policies menu.

The basic setup of the course is to play games, write narratives based on your experience, then analyze and discuss these narratives with me and your classmates. You will gain insights into storytelling as a cultural practice, video games as a unique narrative form, your individual responses to narrative media, and your critical thinking process.

The course is scheduled for Fall 2021, and it will be conducted in a traditional, face-to-face format. This syllabus is not complete; check here frequently to make sure that you have the most current information.

Additional course materials are accessible to enrolled students through D2L.

Possible Games

As we get closer to the beginning of the semester, I will whittle this list of possible games down to a smaller set of required games.

Required games will be available on multiple platforms (e.g. Xbox, PlayStation, Steam). You are not required to play on any particular platform, but you must have access to a playable version of each game.

  • Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Persona V Strikers
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  • The Last of Us
  • The Last of Us II
  • Red Dead Redemption II
  • Hitman III

Possible Texts, Films, and TV Series

Required Software, Hardware, and Technical Capabilities

Webcam and Microphone

For quizzes and exams, you are required to use the Respondus Lockdown Browser, which includes video monitoring. If your laptop does not have a built-in webcam, you will need to invest in or borrow one to use with your university-mandated laptop computer. (Wikipedia has a useful entry on webcams.)

Also, you will create a video recording for a major assignment and upload this recording to YouTube.  If your laptop, digital camera, or phone does not include these capabilities, you will need both a microphone and webcam to use with your laptop.

Lockdown Browser
You are required to use the Respondus Lockdown Browser for quizzes and exams. You will download and install this on your laptop from within D2L. Please complete this process by taking the Sample Quiz during the first week of class.
Web Browser: Firefox or Chrome or Safari
In this media-rich class, using one of these browsers is mandatory. The university’s Top 10 Tips for Success in online courses notes that Internet Explorer is not recommended for use with  Desire2Learn.
Microsoft Teams
Students should download the Teams app to their computer, since the Web-based version doesn’t support screen- and video-sharing the Hub’s Knowledge Base article details the necessary steps.
PDF Reader (Adobe Reader)
Students must be able to read PDF files.
Media Player: VLC or equivalent
Students must be able to play mp3 and mp4 files. Many software tools will enable this, including VLC, which is available for free download.
Microsoft Word word processing
Students must be able to compose and read documents saved in the Microsoft Word “docx” format.
Clayton State email
Students must access their CSU email accounts on a regular basis. They must be able to use these accounts to attach and retrieve attached files.

In addition to Desire2Learn, the following software programs and capabilities are necessary for success in this course. The Hub offers training resources to help students master these tools.

Contact Information

My contact information including office hours is collected on separate page.

Vulgarity and Profanity

A note of warning: We are all adults, and we are studying a culture that is often vulgar and profane. As a result, you may hear or see adult content in the materials assigned for our class. Nothing assigned by me or submitted by other students should exceed the MPAA rating of R. When engaging in class discussions, if you submit material that is Not Safe For Work (NSFW) or other venues and audiences,  please note this in your subject line as a convenience to your classmates. Please also be aware that your contributions should conform to the class’s rules regarding  Online Etiquette.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

It is my intent that students from diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well served by this course, that students’ learning needs be addressed, and that the diversity that students bring to this class be viewed as a resource, strength and benefit. It is my intent to present materials and activities that are respectful of diversity along multiple dimensions, including ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, disability, age, socioeconomic status, and culture. Your suggestions are encouraged and appreciated. Please let me know ways to improve the effectiveness of the course for you personally or for other students or student groups.

Disability Services

Students with disabilities who need to request accommodations should contact the Disability Resource Center, Edgewater Hall, Suite 255; 678-466-5445; disabilityservices@mail.clayton.edu