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Introduction to Game Studies


Admission requirements

Game Studies Minor students get priority. If there are seats left, we will also welcome participants from outside the Minor.


This course offers an introduction into the field of games as a cultural practice, with an emphasis on video games. How do video games contribute to the (critical) debate on the nature of contemporary culture? We will consider video games through the lens of film and video studies, art history, anthropology, cultural studies, literary theory, and, of course, game studies. This will allow us to understand different dimensions of video games, but it will also bring out the newness of this new set of media.

At the same time, we will explore how games change our understanding of earlier art forms, and earlier ways of studying art. In addition to this inter-medial and interdisciplinary exploration of the new medium, this introductory course will offer a history of video games and game studies. We will also investigate the ways that games and play more broadly generate, replicate, and change culture from a global and long-term chronological perspective. The course will incorporate aspects of analog games that highlight these themes. In the introduction and the following courses we will discuss work by o.a. Aarseth, Bogost, Caillois, Consalvo, Friedman, Galloway, Haraway, Hayles, Huizinga, Jameson, Jenkins, Juul, Krzywinska, Manovich, Sicart, Sutton-Smith, and others.

Course objectives

After this course, students have obtained:

  • a general overview of the history of video games and game studies;

  • insight in the adequacies and inadequacies of the theoretical approaches developed in relation to earlier media (literature, visual art, film, video) for the analysis of video games;

  • insight in the older and newly developed theoretical approaches that are necessary to understand the different cultural functions of the (range of) media of video games (as play, narrative medium, educational tool);

  • knowledge of the motivations, outcomes, and expectations that drive people to play;

  • understanding of the ways that games reflect and influence culture;

  • knowledge of the main concepts and debates in the field where game studies and cultural analysis meet.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

Assessment method


  • 1 Midterm exam with short open and essay questions

  • 1 Final exam with short open and essay questions.


  • Midterm exam: 50%

  • Final exam: 50%


Resits are possible for both the midterm and final exam.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

The reading list will be announced on Brightspace.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.

Registration À la carte education, Contract teaching and Exchange

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal