The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Digital Humanities + Games

This area of specialization aims to better prepare students to create and produce digital media and to use, analyze, and create digital tools. The two paths include Digital Humanities Methods and Culture (i.e. text analysis, critical digital analysis, and data science) and Games and Interactive Narrative (i.e. game art, character design, world building, visual narrative, and games-based community engagement). Students may also opt to focus on a combination of both DH and games. Both areas of the specialization prioritize developing creative and technical literacies and refining written and communication skills. We also aspire that this specialization will help students become better critically informed and productive digital citizens. As with all department specializations, this specialization complements our existing area concentrations and requirements for the major but it is not limited to English majors. All are welcome.

Five courses total are required; students who want to do a combination of both pathways should contact the specialization’s advisor for further guidance. Requirements for the specialization’s two pathways are outlined below:

Option #1: Digital Humanities Methods and Culture 

As digital technologies continue to shape and inform nearly all of our experiences both in and out of the classroom, this area of specialization emphasizes student training in Digital Humanities methods, theory, aesthetics, and in the production of new media forms. These forms include but are not limited to social media platforms, modes of digital participation, digital archives, and online communities and interaction. Our approach to studying new technologies is always informed by our dedication, as humanists, to building on the core skill set emphasized in the major as a whole—skills that foster clear and persuasive oral and written communication, dynamic critical thinking, creativity, and the ability to closely examine a variety of texts and tools in cultural context.

Courses (5 Courses Required)

  • Studies in Textuality and New Media (required)
  • Course in culture or theory (required)
  • Course in digital production (required)
  • Independent Study or Internship (required)
  • Data Science (elective)
  • Codes, Ciphers, Hackers, and Crackers (elective)
  • Doing Digital (elective)
  • English 391c: Intro to Web Design (production or elective) 

Up to two courses that include a digital component where 20% of the grade is determined by such assignments, or two applicable classes in other humanities departments may also qualify as electives. Additionally, related courses from other departments may also be approved. 

Option #2: Games and Interactive Narrative 

Video games have become the most popular and lucrative entertainment medium of our time. How can we understand and study video games not only as a popular medium but also as a meaning-laden cultural art form? What are some of the ways in which we can formally think about how games have come to matter in our society—both to avid fans and to people who would not call themselves gamers? How can we use our passion for games, expansive imaginations, and humanities-centered training to create better games?

Courses (5 Courses Required)

  • Introduction to Video Game Studies (required)
  • Game Design Fundamentals (required)
  • Game design project, visual narrative project, or games related internship (required)
  • Participation in the Radical Play Community Engagement Program or UMass Game Design Lab for credit (strongly encouraged)
  • Group Independent Study (strongly encouraged)
  • (topics include: esports, writing for games, concept art, game documentation, marketing games, accessibility and representation in games)
  • Games and Civic Action (elective)
  • Dystopian Games, Comics, and Media (elective)

Other courses in the English department, such as Virtual Medieval, Interactive Fiction, and Creative Writing courses may be taken as electives. Additionally, related interdisciplinary electives in Art, Animation, Art History, Comparative Literature, Anthropology, Informatics, and other disciplines are encouraged and may be approved upon request.

Contact the UGS Office for questions and further explication.