Games for Social Change

IDM 111
Union College
Spring 2010

What is this course about?

This course looks at computer games about social and environmental issues that inspire activism. You will learn to critically analyze digital games using analytic tools from the fields of narrative and game design theory. You will also use these tools to design your own games. A special emphasis will be placed on the social values embedded in digital games through their narrative and game mechanics.

You will implement your own games using software tools that do not require any programming knowledge but you will learn about some fundamental computer science concepts along the way. Finally, you will learn about methods for evaluating the impact of games on players and society.

Who teaches it?

Christine Henseler
Kristina Striegnitz

When and where

TTH 10:55-12:40, Olin 102

How to contact us
office phone:(518 388) 8021(518 388) 6554
office:Humanities 213CSteinmetz 233
office hours:TBAMondays 2-3:30
Wednesdays 2:30-3:30
by appointment

What do you need to do?

Attend class. Attendance in this course is mandatory. Any unexcused absence after the second absence will reduce your final grade 1/3 letter grade (for example, from a B to a B-, or from anĀ  A- to a B+) for every class that you miss. For any excused absence you are required to submit a note from a person of authority.

Participate. It is expected that you participate actively in class. In other words you should come to class prepared, having read the material, having completed all assignments, and being prepared to ask questions and add to the class with new insights.

Complete the homework assignments. There will be homework assignments from class to class. These homework assignments will typically ask you to do something in preparation for the next class. It is therefore crucial that you complete these assignments.

No late homework assignments will be accepted.

Complete the projects. You are expected to complete a number of game design and implementation projects. You will get more information on these projects as we go along. (See the evaluation section below for a preview.)

You are expected to hand in your projects on the due date. For every day (not class period) that your assignment is handed in late, your grade will be reduced one full grade.

We will also not accept any hand-written material. Papers will need to be type-written.

Some of the projects will be done in teams. To evaluate how each team member supported the team work and contributed to the project, we will use an online survey tool for assessing team work called CATME. We will take these survey results into account when grading the project.


Participation and blog posts15%
Gamemaker tutorial exercises10%
Interactive drama design and performance15%
Boardgame design and pototype10%
Gamemaker vignette design and implementation10%
Final project design document10%
Final project implementation20%
Final project presentation and self-critique10%