SUGS: Ready Player One: Video Games as the New Art

Taught by Chuck Caruso, PhD, University of Washington and lifelong gamer. Presented critical analyses of video games at the national conferences of several major academic organizations, including the Semiotics Society of America, the Popular Culture Association, and the Society for Textual Scholarship. (Instructor rating: NEW)

Mondays April 4 - 25
7:00 - 8:30 pm

Location: Class will be held in Wallingford. Address will be sent to each participant upon registration.

Four weeks, $100. Space limited to 20 students. Register here.

During the past several decades, video games have steadily increased in technical sophistication, economic significance, and cultural importance. Declared "the tenth art" by French critics during the 1990's, video games are gradually becoming more widely accepted as cultural artifacts worthy of serious study. We'll examine what it means to view video games as art, and we'll familiarize ourselves with a broad range of critical approaches to video games, from ludology to narratology.

Week One: Can We Consider Video Games a Serious Artform? Why should we look at video games critically? Won't analyzing them spoil the mindless fun we're supposed to be having with these games?

Week Two: Video Games and Narrative Structure. While some video games try to tell stories in conventional narrative forms and some try to challenge conventional narrative structures, other games seem to be at a distant remove from narrative concerns. We'll look at the complex relationship between video games and storytelling.

Week Three: Race and Gender. How do video games portray race and gender? Like all cultural artifacts, from pop songs and TV sitcoms to epic films and multi-volume novels, video games represent race and gender in particular ways.

Week Four: Building an Analytical Toolbox.  We'll revisit the idea of video games as pure "play" and will address that with questions about what "literacy" means in a Digital Age. 

$40 scholarship donation is optional. The PUGS Scholarship Fund makes courses accessible to people at all income levels. See our Generosity Policy. If you need a scholarship, email

Photo by Marco Arment via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.