Title: Senior Seminar: Writing and Video Games
Video gaming has assumed a significant position in contemporary culture, spreading into multiple demographic groups and generating sales revenues that rival those of the film industry. No longer the exclusive province of expert players, gaming has become a mainstream activity appearing in casual forms such as Wii Fit, smartphone apps, and Facebook’s FarmVille. This Senior Seminar explores professional and scholarly writing tasks invested in video gaming. It asks students to analyze and create works including journalistic reviews, technical instructions, promotional materials, and researched critical essays in print and electronic formats. Students will practice core rhetorical concepts including audience analysis, document design, and usability. Students need not be experienced gamers to participate in this course—only intellectually curious and willing to share their unique perspectives on this burgeoning cultural medium.
All class members are expected to treat each other with appropriate courtesy and decorum, and all coursework is expected to be completed in a thorough, timely fashion. All students must read and understand the policies articulated in this syllabus and sign the course contract in order to remain in the class.
Routine work with technology is a component of this class. Students need not be technological experts to succeed in this course, but digital technology interaction is integral, and computer problems are not valid excuses for incomplete work. Practice the core principle of digital data work: redundant backup. Digital technology will fail you; be prepared for that eventuality.
Students also must be able to access particular video games to participate in this course. Students will be provided with multiple options to satisfy this requirement, including free and commercial games on personal computers, home consoles, handhelds, and World Wide Web platforms.
Students may use laptops, cell phones, and other digital devices during class, provided that they do not disrupt other students' learning or the instructor's classroom management. This is not a trick. This course is situated in an increasingly connected multimedia environment. Each student is responsible for his or her own engagement with class meetings, and thus his or her resultant success or failure.
Because of the nature of the course, some material students post to this website will be publicly accessible through the Web. (A student's grades and personal information will never be shared publicly.) Additionally, any material posted to the course website may be used anonymously for teaching or published research purposes.
Because one of the most salient features of video gaming is its social aspect, teamwork and group projects are required elements of the course. When a group project is assigned, students will participate in activities that help foster successful collaboration. Student groups will be mostly autonomous and all members are expected to function professionally. After the conclusion of group activities, individuals will complete forms assessing the contributions and behavior of group members and the global performance of the team.
Because this is a workshop and discussion-driven class, class attendance is crucial. Role is taken shortly after class begins. If a student is not present when role is taken, he or she will be counted absent. If there are extraordinary circumstances that will prevent a student from attending class, he or she must contact the instructor beforehand. There is no separate attendance component of the course grade, but any student that misses more than six class meetings will fail the course automatically. Additionally, any work missed because of an absence cannot be made up. This includes project assignments. The class abides by the maxim that all members of the class should show respect to one another by meeting at designated times and places prepared to work.
Late work is not accepted.
All projects will go through a drafting and revision process before they are turned in for a grade. I will provide extensive feedback on project drafts, but comparatively little feedback on final versions. This is because the primary purpose of feedback is to improve student work rather than to explain why it earned a particular grade. Students are always welcome to visit office hours to discuss work at any stage, including after it has been graded.
The Online Portfolio provides samples of a student's work and commentary from the student discussing how he or she has developed as a composer of texts while at UNCW. Online Portfolios are used within the department to assess program effectiveness, and outside the department for university accreditation purposes. For these reasons, Online Portfolios are a mandatory component of the Senior Seminar course.
Side Quests are optional course-related tasks that students may undertake for additional points. Mathematically, students must complete some Side Quests to score higher than a B- in the course. Some Side Quests will only be available after a student has attained a specific level (see "Levels & Perks" below).
Levels & Perks:
Avatar levels (but not point totals) will be shown on this course website.
With each move upward in level a student will be allowed to select one perk from the corresponding level row. (Some restrictions apply. The instructor is the final authority in the distribution and redemption of all perks.) Perk options are outlined in the following table:
Final Course Grades:
After completing this course successfully, students should be able to:
All UNCW community members are expected to adhere to the guidelines set forth in the UNCW Student Academic Honor Code. Students are expected to produce original work in this course. Collaboration and incorporation of external material and ideas into original work is of course acceptable and necessary, but all writers are ethically obliged to document external sources through appropriate citation practices. If you are uncertain if some element of your work constitutes plagiarism or another honor code violation, please speak with me. The point of any class is to educate, not to punish. Nevertheless, the consequences of honor code violations are appropriately dire. Please consult the UNCW Code of Student Life for more information.
I and the university will make every effort to accommodate students with disabilities. If you require accommodations, please make certain to go through the Office of Disability Services, as I can take no action without their guidance. Please make contact as soon as possible, as accommodations cannot be made retroactively.
UNCW practices a zero tolerance policy for any kind of violent or harassing behavior. If you are experiencing an emergency of this type contact the police at 911 or UNCW CARE at 962-2273. Resources for individuals concerned with a violent or harassing situation can be located at the UNCW Crisis Resources page.
In accordance with NC SL 2010-211, students are entitled to two excused absences for religious observances per academic year. Students must inform the instructor in writing the first week of class if they will miss any classes due to religious observance. Additionally, students should inform the Registrar the first week of class who will then coordinate with the corresponding course instructors. Any absence for religious purposes will be considered unexcused unless a student submits the request in writing the first week to the instructor or Registrar.