Masters in Game Studies proposal

The Masters in Game Studies would be a unique programme that combines critical and industry skills in the study of the games, audiences and working practices that make up contemporary video game culture. In the programme, you would: learn varying methods applied in the critical analysis of games and play; be introduced to diverse working practices in the industry and be given the opportunity to engage in critical production studies; and be given the opportunity to develop your own game studies research project.

The programme would aim to:

  • Develop students’ knowledge and understanding of the methods and concepts currently found in the multidisciplinary field of game studies;
  • Enable students to develop research, writing and professional skills which will be transferable to doctoral study or employment;
  • Offer an opportunity for the advanced study of topics related to game studies and the games industry;
  • Enable students to pursue in-depth research relating to a games-related topic of their choice.

 

Structure

Course Title Credits Core Optional Semester taught
Game Studies 1: Methods & Concepts 40 Yes No Semester 1
Game Studies 2: Industry & Production 40 Yes No Semester 2
Dissertation 60 Yes No Semester 2
Placement 20 No Yes Semester 2
Directed Study (online) 20 No Yes Semester 1 or 2
College-wide or University-wide option 20 No Yes Semester 1 or 2

 

The two core courses may be summarised as follows:

Game Studies 1: Methods & Concepts

In the first semester, students will engage in the critical study of video games at an advanced level. The history and development of the study of games will be examined, key texts interrogated, and appropriate qualitative and quantitative methods explored. The multidisciplinary nature of game studies will be reflected in the dual focus on humanities and social sciences approaches. The former approach will see students critically engage with games as cultural artefacts, examining the affordances of the medium in terms of, for example, rhetoric and narrative. The latter approach will be used to examine the societal, economic and psychological effects of video games. This course will be delivered by means of lectures, seminars and tutorials and comprise approximately six hours of teaching time per week. The course would culminate in a class conference/symposium, at which students will be expected to give an oral presentation of a topic related to their written assessment.

Game Studies 2: Industry & Production

The second semester will look at how the games industry is constructed and explore processes of production. Key texts relating to the theories that underpin games design will form the basis of an active, critical examination of games development, while practical exercises will provide hands-on experience of many aspects of this process. Students will be required to collaborate on the production of materials including game design documents, product pitches and marketing plans. The course’s increased industry focus will involve a series of guest speakers drawn from Barr’s existing industry contacts. Indicative speakers include Korina Abbott (freelance video game marketer, formerly at Bethesda), Melissa Knox (producer at Blazing Griffin), Jon McKellan (founder of No Code Studio) and Jo Twist OBE (CEO of UKIE). The proposed structure for delivering the course would comprise weekly alternating guest lectures/seminars, plus lab time for group-based practical exercises, totalling no more than six hours of teaching time per week.

Other options

The remaining credits will comprise a dissertation, to be completed over the summer period at the end of semester two, and the combination of any two options from the following: industry placement, directed study, or an option chosen from existing College-wide provision. Industry placements are likely to see students involved in non-technical aspects of game design, production and marketing. The directed study option would allow students to examine in some detail a topic – separate from their dissertation – that is of personal interest. Directed study would involve up to eight hours of online tutorial or seminar contact over a single semester, but the work would be largely independent in nature. There are opportunities for the outputs of the directed study course to be submitted to our student journal, Press Start, providing students with experience of an authentic peer review process and, potentially, publication. Finally, students may opt to take any suitable course that is offered across the College. Indicative options include courses from Culture and Creative Arts (e.g. Experimental Art and Media; Sonic Arts) and Critical Studies (e.g. Magical Narratives: Imagination, Fantasy and the Creation of Worlds; Fantasy Across Media).

It is intended that most students would see the programme through to completion of an MSc, but a postgraduate diploma would be offered to those students for whom the dissertation is not a viable option. The programme may be offered on a full time or part time basis.

Assessment

Modes of assessment will vary across the core courses, and align with the respective intended learning outcomes. Summative assessment on the Game Studies 1: Methods & Concepts course, for example, will include critical essays, shorter written exercises (reviews and blog posts), audio-visual projects (video ‘walkthroughs’), peer review and oral presentations. Game Studies 2: Industry & Production will be assessed by more industry-focused means, including game design documents, presentations and marketing materials.

The 15,000-word dissertation will be written during the summer period April to September, and generally submitted in September.

After graduation

The programme is designed to equip students with the skills required for further study, i.e. at PhD level. Graduates who are not interested in further study, however, will be well-equipped with the transferable skills and industry knowledge that are required for employment in a range of related industries. For example, students will be required to work both independently and as part of a group, develop and pitch their ideas, collaborate with external stakeholders, and research and write independent reports.