Course syllabus


Hello folks, welcome to Introduction to Game Research.   Our focus in the next two months is to give you the tools needed to analyse the ways in which games present themselves to players, and assess the success or failure through the use of several evaluative lenses.  We're going to look at three perspectives that underpin much modern research about gaming.  These are:

  • The systemic perspective - how do games fit together in terms of their mechanics and rules?
  • The experiential perspective - how do games feel to play?
  • The critical perspective - what are games trying to say when we play them?

The course covers three categories of games too:

  • Video games - digital games played primarily through a computer or a console
  • Board and Card games - games with fixed rules and goals, played by groups (usually) using tangible, physical components
    • Don't worry, it's not Monopoly.  Board games are amazing now.
  • Roleplaying games - social games with often uncertain goals, often played long-term in campaigns 

I hope you find it fun and interesting!

An important point about this course, and one I want to emphasize regularly, is that we're not interested here in you telling us what our opinions are.  What we want to know is what your opinions are.   Much of the course is about furnishing you with perspectives and domain knowledge that are intended to make your arguments stronger.   Disagree with us!

Note this course is running in a different form from other years because a new examiner (me) has taken over.  Your patience and indulgence as the kinks are ironed out would be appreciated!  That includes content on the canvas.


There are no specific requirements or expectations of your gaming experience - we assume you have access to video games already (talk to the course team about recommendations when it becomes an issue), but we will have dedicated sessions in which you get to play modern designer board games.  We'll also be taking you through a couple of RPGs too where the module team will act as your games master.

All we really ask is that you are prepared to take play seriously.   

Contact Details

This is your course team:

Michael Heron, examiner & lecturer  -

Natasha Mangan, lecturer - 

Christos Stylianos Vazouras, teaching assistant -


The course is relatively front-loaded when it comes to lecture content.   Weeks one and two both have two lectures and a tutorial (held online).   Weeks three and four have a lecture, supervision session, and a game session.  Weeks five and six are given over to your RPG experiences.  Week seven is primarily self-directed, although we will have drop-in supervision sessions for you to use to ask questions and bounce your ideas around.  Week eight is the Introduction to Game Research conference.  We'll talk more about that as we go along.

You can see the schedule and rooms in the calendar.   If there is a disagreement between TimeEdit and this page, go with what this page tells you.  TimeEdit is a room booking system, not a scheduling system.  Bear in mind that there may be changes as we go along - keep an eye on the announcements before you come in to the university!

Student Representatives and Course Evaluation

These are the student representatives for this course:

UTBYTE      Guanyu Chen

MPIDE     Samuel Dahlborg

MPIDE   Jon Emilsson

MPCAS        Constantina Filios

MPSOF        Linnea Wahlgren


Voluntary representatives can be added on request.  If you're a GU student, your volunteering would be especially valuable!

Course Literature

You are not required to buy any literature for this course - everything you need to know will be covered as part of the teaching.   Each lecture will include a reading list of papers - the lectures are not intended to be exhaustive, but rather illustrative.  Students should read all the required papers to get the full context of the course, as well as see how their assignments for the conference at the end should look.

Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to)

  • know the academic game terms
  • show an understanding of different types and approaches to classifying games
  • show an understanding of different academic approaches to researching games and gaming
  • be able to explain what characterizes games within the most common classifications
  • analyze games given a specific research question, research stance, and academic vocabulary
  • describe games given a specific focus and showing an adequate use of academic game terms
  • make comparisons between games or parts of games through the use of academic game terms
  • analyze games in relation to various intended uses
  • analyze games from several different gaming preferences
  • be able to choose and combine different academic approaches in order to analyze and interpret games given a specific context
  • identify ethical aspects of a game

Examination form

This is course is graded through four individual written assignments.  There is also a final presentation.  

These written assignments correspond to the four modules of the course:

  • Module 1, Analysis.  In this you will define a research question and outline how you intend to answer it.
  • Module 2, Literature Review.  In this you will explore the academic and professional literature and provide the academic context necessary to understand it.
  • Module 3, Research.  In this you will integrate your research question and analysis into a program of research aimed at providing an evidence-based and logically rigourous answer to the question you set yourself in module 1.
  • Module 4, Publication.  In this you will deliver an academic paper that communicates your research to a general public, and then present that paper at the Introduction to Game Research conference.    

The course has the following grades: U, 3, 4, & 5. These grades are also given for each assignment in the course. In order to receive a passing grade on the entire course, a student needs to receive at least a 3 on all assignments. The course grade given will be a weighted average of the grades on the modules.

You can do these assignments by yourself if you like, but the expectation (and very strong recommendation) is that you tackle them with a partner.  The word counts become more reasonable, you get a chance to bounce ideas off of each other, and you can pool your combined knowledge and interests in games.   In rare cases, a group of three may be permitted but their will be an expectation that the quality of insight in all submitted work is much higher.

Course summary:

Date Details Due