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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week we’ll study two videogames separated by nearly thirty years of design: Miyamoto’s Donkey Kong, a canonical work from the golden age of arcade games, and Playdead’s Limbo, a modern console game. One is a descendant of the other, even though they they barely resemble each other on the surface. We’ll explore their hidden connections – and key differences – through our in-class play and discussion.
Depending on time and your instructor’s whims, we may look at one or two other games somewhere in between these two extremes, as well.
You can read about the development backgrounds of Donkey Kong and Limbo if you wish – their respective Wikipedia articles are fine for this – but it isn't necessary. (Yes, this is a light homework week.) The quiz will again be at the end of class, and focus more on what we discover about the games in play and discussion than on the games’ rules.
We’ll be playing rally-style, just like we did with Tetris. I’ll project the game on the big screen, and we’ll pass around an Xbox controller. (No, Donkey Kong isn’t an Xbox game, but we’ll make do.)
In order to give everyone a chance to play, this will be the rule we’re adding to both games: when the player-character dies, the current player passes the controller to the next student.
In the unlikely case that you have already obsessively played Limbo (or the even less likely case that you are a Donkey Kong champion), becoming such a practiced whiz at it that you can play for hours without dying: be considerate of your fellow students, and pass the controller along after a few of minutes of showing off.
Yes! Then I will quiz you, as usual.