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Game Studies and Cultural Analysis

Why Game Studies? For whom?

What is the cultural and social role of computer games? This minor uses interdisciplinary and intermedial approaches to answer that question. Literature and film have often been seen as media that offer critical reflections on our times. Can we see computer games in the same way?

This minor offers you the insights and tools you need to become a game critic. Game critics—experts who are able to unravel the cultural and social roles of games—are nowadays perhaps even more necessary than film critics or literary critics. Computer games are not just the omnipresent, defining media of our times; they also speak to the condition of our 21st society in ways no other media can.

During a range of varied courses, you will explore the many ways in which games address and shape society. First, computer games shape our relation to technology and digitalization, while also inviting a critical reflection on the effects of digitalization, for example the new forms of political control (informatic control, Galloway). Second, on another level, game elements have transformed didactical methods and communication strategies; third, while games, on the one hand, use the conventions of film, television, comics, literature, etc., on the other hand we can also see that the visual arts, films, and television series have changed under the influence of games. Computer games are at the heart of fundamental changes in art, culture, society and politics. We will explore these issues through a critical discussion of an extensive range of mainstream and indie games (from Half-Life to The Sims and Fortnite, from The Elder Scrolls to The Witcher and The Walking Dead).

As game making is a part of game culture, and as designing a game contributes a lot to understanding the nature of the medium, this minor also offers different opportunities to obtain skills in game making. Students of the Humanities, Social Sciences and (Computer) Sciences can collectively create either a game prototype or a working computer game. Non-science students will be able to follow a course in game making first; science students will be able to start by learning about story-telling (generative narratology). They will put their new-won insights at work during a 10 ec hands-on course. The shared aim of all courses, both the theoretical and the hands-on courses, is the deconstruction of the medium of computer games.

The Leiden University Game Studies and Cultural Analysis-minor is unique in bringing together game making and critical game analysis.

Design your own minor

All students can now design their own 30 or 31 ec-minor, by selecting courses from the programme. Note that the Introductory course is mandatory.

Maximum number of participants: 55

Prospectus number: 5000MGSCAN

Class number: 1027

Language: English


Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Semester 1

Introduction Game Studies and Cultural Analysis 10
Games and Transmedia Storytelling: Stories of COVID-19 5
Introduction Story-Telling and Generative Narratology (Science-students) 5
Introduction to Video Game Making 6

Semester 2

Game Analysis: Games and Cultural Analysis 10
Hands-On: Reflective Game Development in Action 10

More info



Courses in the minor:

  • (Interdisciplinary) Introduction Game Studies and Cultural Analysis (10 ects) mandatory

  • Transmedia Storytelling (5 ects)

  • Introduction Game-Making for Beginners (Humanities and Social Sciences-students) (6 ects)

  • Introduction Story-Telling for Beginners (Science-students) (5 ects)

  • Game Analysis: Games and Cultural Analysis (10 ects)

  • Hands-On: Reflective Game-Development in Action (10 ects)