Gaming Theater (Grad/Undergrad)

About: Uniting methodologies and readings from media and performance studies, this interdisciplinary course explores the historical and contemporary proximities between games and theater as forms of interactive media. Each unit of this course interrogates the generic boundary of “games,” seeing games as the content of, source of, medium for, and engine behind compelling performances. Our course will make a study of videogames, tabletop games, nordic larp (live-action role playing) and game-like theatrical works that provoke meaningful questions about audience agency, interactivity, and the role of technology in our contemporary understanding of what it means to attend or take part in “play.” Students in this course can expect to attend and participate in larps (live-action roleplays), tabletop roleplaying games, contemporary works of gaming theater, and to play videogames. Part of taking this class is “being game” – open to participating in the various forms of play we will explore together, often during our class sessions. In addition to short design experiments and projects throughout the quarter, students will be expected to work in groups to develop and playtest a work of gaming theater of their own for their final project.

This is an elective course for graduate and undergraduate students at Drexel University. I have also taught a version of this course at the University of Chicago for upper-level undergraduates in Theater and Performance Studies and Media Arts, Data, and Design as part of the Stuart Tave Teaching Fellowship (Spring 2021). The Tave Fellowship was a Humanities Divisional award “to provide exceptional graduate students with the opportunity to teach a course of their own design related to their research and appealing to undergraduates across the College.”

Queer Game Studies (undergrad)

About: This course focuses on the productive dialogues between queer and feminist theory and media studies that have enabled the formation of “queer game studies” over the last decade. The course begins with a short orientation to game studies and queer theory. The rest of the course pairs important texts in queer theory by authors like Eve Kosofsky Sedgewick and Gayle Rubin with games that illustrate or challenge key concepts. We will play an array of text-based Twine games from the early 2010s by Porpentine, Anna Anthropy, and Christine Love, as well as recent indie releases, like A Normal Lost Phone and Dream Daddy. Central to the class is an attention to the ways that queer theory enables or inaugurates scholarly methods, often ones that blend autobiography, activism, and non-written creative practices. Students in this course can anticipate short writing assignments dedicated to summarizing and analyzing scholarly writing, as well as documenting their own play experiences and practices. At the midpoint of the course, students will be asked to document a queer player practice of their choosing, authoring a video or textual record of the practice. At the conclusion of the course, students will be asked to write a short archival entry on a “queer game” of their choice, similar to those already circulating on the LGBTQ Game Archive.

This is an elective course for upper-division undergraduates in the Digital Media Department at Drexel University, but I have also taught versions of this class for Graduate Students at Drexel University (Fall 2023) and in the Film, Media, and Theater Department at Georgia State University (Spring 2023)

Digital Storytelling (undergrad)

About: This writing intensive course provides students with both theoretical and hands-on design experiences of digital storytelling, with a focus on interactive narratives. In this course, we will examine a range of artifacts that explore the concepts of interactivity and replayability in storytelling. Students will have the opportunity to design their own digital story (fictional or non-fiction) and explore different design strategies in contemporary narrative-based computer games.

This is a required course for the undergraduate Game Design and Production program at Drexel University.