The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Video Games as Worldbuilding

Date: July 5 - July 18, 2020

Program length: 2 weeks

This 2-week intensive uses the power of imaginative storytelling in gamic worlds as an introduction to video game studies and video game design. We will approach video games by exploring various techniques for telling compelling stories in the medium. Why are some games like the Mass Effect trilogy, Skyrim, Red Dead Redemption 2, the Tomb Raider franchise, and Mafia 3 so often celebrated for their creation of immersive, captivating worlds and stories? How do these games create virtual worlds that are believable and meaningful?

Students will learn some fundamentals of storytelling and also learn some strategies for imagining and constructing simple digital games. By providing fundamental instruction in both storytelling and in game design, the course bridges Humanities and STEM interests and proficiencies. We will play, analyze, and create games in order to give students with interests in STEM fields (such as computer science and engineering) an opportunity to explore skills, topics, and debates related to the humanistic study of digital culture. Similarly, our study of video games will give students interested in Humanities disciplines (such as literature, creative writing, and art) an opportunity to develop some pragmatic design and technical skills.

Neither technical expertise nor experience playing video games is required. Creative writers, storytellers, gamers, and curious individuals of all skill levels are welcome. We will study, play, critique, and create games from the ground up. Readings and examples will come from literary and cultural studies, and digital tools are likely to include Twine and Construct 2. 



TreaAndrea Russworm

Associate Professor