76-238 Electronic Media Seminar – Videogames and their Influence

W 6:30 - 9:30 BH 355

9 units

Instructor: Gregory Cato


Home Phone: 802-7756

Course Texts


Aristotle (1997). Poetics – Dover Thrift Edition. Dover Pub. Inc.

Biocca, Frank, Mark R. Levy (1994). Communication in the Age of Virtual Reality. Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc. (Out of Print)

Campbell, Colin (1987). The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism. B. Blackwell. (Out of Print)

Cassell, Justine (Ed.), Henry Jenkins (Ed.) (1998). From Barbie to Mortal Kombat : Gender and Computer Games. MIT Press.

Cherney, Lynn (Ed.), Elizabeth Reba Weise (Ed.) (1996). Wired Women : Gender and New Realities in Cyberspace. Seal Press.

Corrigan, Timothy. (1998). A Short Guide to Writing about Film. Longman.

Croteau, D. (1997). Media/Society: industries, images, and audiences. Pine Forge Press.

Deibert, Ronald J. (1997). Parchment, Printing, and Hypermedia: Communication in World Order Transformation. Columbia University Press.

Herz, J.C. (1997). Joystick Nation: How videogames ate our quarters, won our hearts, and rewired our minds. Little, Brown.

Laurel, Brenda (1993). Computers as Theatre. Addison-Wesley Pub. Co.

Morse, Margaret (1998). Virtualities: Television, Media Art, and Cyberculture. Indiana University Press.



Biocca, F. (1992). Communication within virtual reality: Creating a space for research. Journal of Communication, 42(4). 5-97.

Brown, N. L., Brown, S. L., Brown, R. M., Hall, L. R., Holtzer, R. (1997). Gender and video game performance. Sex Roles, 36, Nos. 11/12, 793-813.

Bush, G. W. (1991). Like "a Drop of Water in the Stream of Life": Moving Images of Mass Man from Griffith to Vidor. Journal of American Studies, 25, No. 2, 213-234.

Dietz, T. L. (1998). An examination of violence and gender role portrayals in video games: Implications for gender socialization and aggressive behavior. Sex Roles, 38, Nos. 5/6, 425-442.

Funk, J. B., Buchman, D. D. (1996). Children’s perceptions of gender differences in social approval for playing electronic games. Sex Roles, 35, Nos. 3/4, 219-231.

Funk, J. B., Buchman, D. D. (1996). Playing violent video and computer games and adolescent self-concept. Journal of Communication, 46(2), 19-32.

Funk, J.B., Buchman, D. D., Flores, G., Germann, J. N. (1999). Rating Electronic Games: Violence is in the Eye of the Beholder. Sex Roles, 30, No. 3, March, 283-312.

Gailey, C. W. (1993). Mediated messages: Gender, class, and cosmos in home video games. Journal of Popular Culture, 27, 81-97.

Gaines, J. (?). Fabricating the female body.

Griffiths, M. (1997). Computer game playing in early adolescence. Youth & Society. 29, No. 2, Dec., 223-237.

Jacobson, D. (1996). Contexts and cues in cyberspace. Journal of Anthropological Research. 52, 461-479.

Katz, P. A., Ksansnak K. R. (1994). Developmental aspects of gender role flexibility and traditionality in middle childhood and adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 30, No. 2, 272-282.

Messaris, P. (1998). Visual Aspects of Media Literacy. Journal of Communication. Winter.

Meyrowitz, J. (1997). Multiple media literacies. Journal of Communication. Winter.

Miles, D. (1996). The CD-ROM novel Myst and McLuhan’s fourth law of media: Myst and its "Retrievals." Journal of Communication, 46(2), 4-32.

Panelas, T. (1983). Adolescents and video games. Youth & Society. 15, No. 1, Sept., 51-65.

Parks, M. R. (1996). Making friends in cyberspace. Journal of Communication, 46(1), 80-97.

Parks, M. R., Roberts, L. D. (1998). ‘Making MOOsic’. Jornal of Social and Personal Relationships. 15(4), 517-537.

Pettegrew, J. (1992). A Post-Modernist Moment: 1980’s Commercial Culture and the Founding of MTv. Journal of American Culture. 15(4), Winter, 57-66.

Ryan, E. B., Anas, A. P., Hummert, M. L., Laver-Ingram, A. (1998). Young and older adult’s views of telephone talk. Journal of Applied Communication Research. 26, 83-98.

Schwartz, H. (1998). Inter.Act.Exeunt: Are computer games interactive? The Communication Review. 2(4), 523-531.

Scodari, C. (1993). Operation Desert Storm as "Wargames": Sport, War, and Media Intertextuality. Journal of American Culture, 16(1), Spring, 1-6.

Vered, K. O. (1998). Blue group boys play Incredible Machine, girls play hopscotch: Social discourse and gendered play at the computer. Digital Diversion: Youth culture in the age of multimedia.

Weisband, S. Kiesler, S. (1996). Self disclosure on computer forms. Internet.



Ardai, C. (1997). A woman’s place: From Donkey Kong to Tomb Raider, how women’s roles have (and haven’t) changed. Computer Gaming World, Nov, 381.

Ardai, C. (1997). Hollywood hooey: Why games should not try to be movies. Computer Gaming World, Oct, 304.

Ardai, C. (1997). The death of science fiction: When bad things happen to good sci-fi games. Computer Gaming World, Aug, 219-222.

Brown, B. (1998). That’s me in the middle. New Scientist, Sept. 26th, 30-31.

Bruckman, A., et al. (1994). Approaches to managing deviant behavior in virtual communities. Proceedings of CHI. April 24-27th.

Bruckman, A. (1996). Finding one’s own in cyberspace. Internet.

Cirulis, M. (1997) What’s the deal with … killing reality?. Computer Gaming World, Sept, 298.

Cirulis, M. (1997). What’s the deal with … psycho geeks?. Computer Gaming World, May, 250.

Demaris, D., J. Lebkowsky, P. X. Nathan (1995). Allucquere Rosanne Stone interview for Mondo 2000. Mondo 2000.

Duncan, T. (1999). More than plastic. Artbyte, Feb-March.

Furger, R. (1998). Does shoot-‘em-up software lead to aggressive behavior?. CNN Interactive. Nov. 2nd.

Grierson, B. (1999). Headrush. Adbusters. Spring, 25.

Hamilton, R. (1997). Virtual idols and digital girls. Bad Subjects. No. 35, Nov.

Hoffman, C., Hurst, E. (1997). Action figures have sex on our computers. Bad Subjects. No. 35, Nov.

Jenkins, D. (1998). Interview with Toby Gard from Confounding Factor. Gamasutra. Oct. 23rd.

Jenkins, H. (1997). Videogames are good for you!. Next Generation, May, 8-13,161-162.

Locutus (1996). Identity, paranoia, technology. Internet.

Moriarty, B. (1998). What have we learned about online gaming?. Next Generation, March, 10-14.

Next Generation Staff (1998). 20,000 Leagues: The Adventure Continues: Next Generation Alphas. Next Generation, Feb, 96-97.

Rosenthal, S. (1993). Interview with Brenda Laurel. Mondo 2000.

Smith, J. (1997). The most popular woman in the world!. Next Generation, Dec, 8-13.

Sperry, B., D. Perry, P. Molyneux, J. Smith, D. Jones, D. Barben (1998). A Meeting of the Minds. Next Generation, Feb, 55-61.

Wilson, J. (1997). Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Byte. Computer Gaming World, Nov, 27.



Twinsen’s Odyssey

The Last Express





Ultima 4: Quest of the Avatar

Ultima 6: The False Prophet

Ultima 7 Part 2: The Serpent Isle

Ultima 9 Interviews

Ultima Online

Chrono Trigger



Carmen Sandiego



Earthworm Jim

Full Throttle

System Shock



Sim City

Mortal Kombat

Tomb Raider



The Neverhood

Dungeon Keeper

Theme Hospital


Final Fantasy 7

Super Mario Bros.

Mario 64

Legend of Zelda

Metal Gear Solid


Wipeout XL


The Battleship Potempkin

Henry Fool

Wallace and Gromit: The Wrong Trowsers (Short)

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Star Trek: First Contact




Course Web Page


Web Pages - Informational

Next Generation Online








Web Pages – Resources



The Adrenaline Vault


Happy Puppy




25% Class participation

25% Reading responses

30% Film/game critiques

20% Final project

Potential Lecturers - Academics, the Industry, and the Press

J.C. Herz (A)

Jeanne Funk (A)

Brenda Laurel (A/I)

Purple Moon

Frederick Raynal (I)

Adeline; Twinsen’s Odyssey, Relentless, Alone in the Dark series

Jordan Mechner (I)

Smoking Car Productions; Last Express, Prince of Persia series

Richard Garriott (I)

Origin Systems; Ultima series

Peter Molyneux (I)

Bullfrog, LionHead; Populous, Dungeon Keeper, Theme Park, Theme Hospital

Brian Moriarty (I)

Interplay, MPlayer

Neil West (P)

Next Generation

Johnny Wilson (P)

Computer Gaming World


Week 1 Introductions / Definitions / History

Jan 13th

Readings: Joystick Nation – Up to chapter 9

Handout – The Vision of Virtual Reality

Handout – A Short Guide to Writing about Film

Week 2 Introduction to Media Analysis

Jan 20th

Viewing: The Battleship Potempkin

Readings: Joystick Nation – Finish

Computers as Theatre – Forward, Chapter 1

Handout – Dramatic Structure

Handout – Notes on Plot, Character, Conflict, Acting

Handout – Are Games Interactive?

Week 3 Introduction to Dramatic Structure

Jan 27th

Lecture: Don Marinelli, Prof. of Drama, Co-Director of ETC.

Readings: Computers as Theatre – Chapters 2,3

Handout – The CD-ROM novel Myst and McLuhan’s fourth law of media

Assignment: Paper on a commercial. Due Feb. 5th 5pm under my office door, BH 145E.

Week 4 Media Analysis of Videogames

Feb 3rd

Viewing: Gauntlet, Super Bomberman, Chronotrigger

Readings: Computers as Theatre – Chapters 4, 7


Handout – Communication within virtual reality

Handout – Mondo 2000 interview with Brenda Laurel

Week 5 Introduction to Communication / Dramatic Structure Discussion

Feb 10th

Readings: Handout – young and older adult's views of telephone talk (gone over in class)

Handout – what have we learned about online gaming?

Handout – approaches to managing deviant behavior in virtual communities Handout – making friends in cyberspace

Handout – multiple media literacies

Handout – visual aspects of media literacy

Handout – making MOOsic (should be read after "making friends in cyberspace")

Handout – finding one's own in cyberspace

Handout – contexts and cues in cyberspace

Week 6 Games as Academically Viable / Cybersociety and Multiplayer Games

Feb 17th

Readings: Wired Women –

A thousand aunts with modems by Elizable Weise

Come in CQ by Ellen Ullman

Closure was never a goal in this piece by Judy Malloy and Cathy Marshall

We are geeks and we are not guys by L. Jean Camp

The price of admission by Stephanie Brail

Sex, Fear and Condescension on Campus by Donna M. Riley

"So Please Stop, Thank you" by Michele Evard

Coming apart at the seams by Shannon McRae

Asssignment: Game Paper I: Due 1st weekend in March .

Week 7 The Realities of a Diverse Online Environment / Introduction to Gender

Feb 24th

Viewing: Starcraft

Readings: From Barbie to Mortal Kombat -

Chapters 1-3

Chapters 5,6 (you can skim the trivial bits)

Week 8 Women as Gamers

March 3rd

Viewing: Barbie Fashion Designer

Readings: From Barbie to Mortal Kombat – Chapters 11,14

Handout - Children's Perceptions of Gender Differences

Handout - Mediated Messages

Handout - Fabricating the Female Body (important)


Week 9 The object of my attention: An examination of representation in videogames

March 10th

Viewing: The Last Express

Readings: From Barbie to Mortal Kombat - Chapters 12,13

Handout - The kids are allright

Handout - Virtual idols and digital girls

Handout - Interview with toby gard

Handout - Action figures have sex on our computers

Handout - An examination of violence and gender role portrayals

Handout - Developmental aspects of gender role flexibility and traditionality

Handout – Playing violent video and computer games

Assignment: Game Paper II: Due Friday, April 9th

Week 10 Sex, violence, and all that other fun stuff

March 17th

Readings: Virtualities - Part One (chapters 1,2) (important)

Handout - Adolescents and video games

Handout - Computer game playing in early adolescence

Handout - Self disclosure on computer forms

Week 11 Won’t somebody please think of the children?

March 31st

Viewing: Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Readings: Virtualities - Chapter 1 (re-read)

Handout - Allucquere Rosanne Stone interview for Mondo 2000

Handout - Identity, Paranoia, Technology

Handout - That's me in the middle

Week 12 Who is the I in me?

April 7th

Viewing: Half-Life, Ultima 4

Readings: Virtualities – Part Two (chapters 3,4,5)

Handout – The romantic ethic and the spirit of modern consumerism

Assignment: Final Project: Due Friday, May 7th

Week 13 Societal Structure - Cause or Effect / Art’s place in the cyberworld

April 14th

Viewing: Alpha Centauri

Readings: Parchment, Printing, and Hypermedia –

Introduction, Chapter 1, Part 2 (Chapters 5-8)

Week 14 The medium as the agent of change

April 21st

Readings: Handout – A Post-Modernist Moment

Handout – Operation Desert Storm as "Wargames"

Handout – Rating Electronic Games

Handout – Headrush

Assignment: Come up with one question you’d like the group to answer next week

Week 15 Wrap - Up

April 28th