This is an archive of a past course's class materials from 2011. Present "Games & Society" students should look elsewhere to find their coursework; consult your current syllabus for more information.

The designer and intstructor of this lab course, Jason McIntosh, has written notes and commentary about this course which may be of interest to other teachers. You can contact the author at

GAME1111 week 4: Abstract challenges

Week 4 - Abstract challenges

This week we’ll examine Blokus, an abstract tabletop strategy game, and Tetris, a well-known and highly influential videogame. These two games play quite differently but have quite a lot in common, some of which is obvious, and some of which is less so. We’ll investigate this in class.

Blokus (Bernard Tavitan)

Before class, you should know the rules to Blokus. It’s widely available as a board game, so if you have access to a physical copy, I encourage you to practice with friends. Otherwise, the free online version below will help you get the hang of it.

Pay attention to this game’s pieces. You don’t have to memorize all their shapes, but you should have some understanding of why they have the shapes they do.

Tetris (Alexey Pajitnov)

Before class, you should know the basics of Tetris’s origins (who designed it, when and where), and its rules of play, especially in its original single-player format.

Pay attention to this game’s pieces, too. You don’t have to memorize all their shapes either, but you should understand why they have the shapes they do.

Optional viewing: Tetris: From Russia with Love, a 2004 BBC documentary about the history of this game.

A note about quizzes

Starting with Week 4, the weekly quiz might show up later in the class period. As we start to move into the realm of digital games, I’ll wish to focus some quizzes more on what we discover through play and discussion, and not just your knowledge of written game rules.

There will still always be exactly one quiz per week (with the exception of the quiz-free Dominion design exercises later in the semester), so please do continue studying as directed.