Lehigh Valley students examine game theory through a multidisciplinary lens

Carissa Ackley
March 31, 2020

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — A new course, offered for the first time at Penn State Lehigh Valley in fall 2019, provided an integrated-learning experience by examining game theory.

CMLIT191N/GAME160N: Introduction to Video Game Culture is an example of how interdisciplinary learning can make course material more actionable in students’ lives.

The course is cross-listed as Comparative Literature (CMLIT) 191N and Gaming (GAME) 160N because it satisfies credit requirements for both degree programs.

student looking at computer screen featuring video game

Justyna Sokolik viewing the "Dragon Age: Inquisition" game on her computer monitors.

IMAGE: Justyna Sokolik

Designed to satisfy a multitude of degree requirements, the course’s primary goal for students is to understand the concept of gaming and video games in a broad context. Beyond learning about the history of gaming, the course discusses how video games impact society through becoming popular culture artifacts, altering social patterns, and influencing technological development. The course also reviews the impact on individuals through skill-building, careers, social relationships and artistic expression.

The final project for the course involves constructing a multimedia product to describe a video game as a cultural artifact and drawing from multiple disciplines such as art, history, technology and anthropology, to construct a digital story.

“I designed the final project as a team-based exercise to promote the sharing of knowledge and experiences among students. The deliverables for the project — a digital video story and a written document — were designed to provide multiple means by which students could share their acquired knowledge while providing multiple outlets for creative expression,” Jeffrey A. Stone, assistant professor of information sciences and technology, and instructor for the course, said.

Two students who completed this course reflected on their experiences.

Dewanshu Verma, a sophomore biochemistry major, and Justyna Sokolik, a first-year math major, both shared insights from their final projects.

“My group decided to focus on the popular 'Halo' series,” Verma said. "'Halo’ has a long history of being Microsoft's flagship title for the Xbox and we were curious to research the factors that helped it settle into that top-earning position.”

“My project examined the ‘Dragon Age’ series,” Sokolik said. “Through my research into the series’ engagement with its fans and increasing emphasis on storytelling with each new title, I was able to explain why ‘Dragon Age’ has a much higher rate of female players than is typical of role-playing games.”

Verma and Sokolik both said they would recommend the class to other students.

“In addition to meeting the credit requirements of a variety of degree programs, the course was interesting to both gamers and non-gamers," Sokolik said. "The inclusion of multiple disciplines beyond game design meant students always had additional reasons to care about, and apply, the subject matter."

CMLIT 191N/GAME 160N: Introduction to Video Game Culture will be offered to students again in fall 2020.

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Last Updated March 31, 2020