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Game studies

  • Code Apogée


  • Composante(s)

    UFR Langues et Civilisations

  • Période de l'année

    Semestre 1


This seminar aims at providing students with a critical vocabulary and a variety of theoretical approaches to video games. It seeks to provide a historical and cultural overview of the medium, to question its boundaries and to introduce students both to game studies and play studies.

Though part of the lecture will be devoted to historical and formal analysis (using narratology and weighing in on the narratologist/ludologist debate), the emphasis will be put on the uses of video games, as well as on the discourses and practices they foster. Thus, the history of the medium will be approached both as a factual chronology and as a process of self-definition, as demonstrated by the rise of retrogaming, but also by the way contemporary “independent” games appropriate and rewrite this history, the better to establish their alternative credentials. Contemporary concerns such as the increasing fragmentation of the various player communities (“hardcore” vs. “casual”/”AAA” vs. “Indy”) and, more crucially, the issue of gender representations in games will also be broached.

Students will be expected to conduct a range of theoretical readings before each class, but also to play selected games in a sustained fashion in the course of the seminar, and to participate in class discussions. They will be required to obtain and play through Portal (Valve, 2007), which will be used to examine many of the key arguments developed in the lectures.

Though a familiarity with the medium and some of its main products is recommended, this seminar does not take as a pre-requisite an extensive knowledge of either contemporary or classical video games.

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Contrôle des connaissances

Students following the seminar will be requested to write a final essay, locating a theoretical concept seen in class in two different but comparable games.

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Informations complémentaires

Ouvert aux étudiant·es en mobilité sous réserve du nombre de places disponibles. 

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Recommended reading:

  • MÄYRÄ, Frans, An introduction to game studies: games in culture, London, SAGE, 2008, 196 p.
  • JUUL, Jesper, Half-real: video games between real rules and fictional worlds, Cambridge, Mass, MIT Press, 2005, 233 p.
  • TRICLOT, Mathieu, Philosophie des jeux vidéo, Paris, Editions la Découverte, 2011, 246 p.


As well as :

  • AUDUREAU, William et GEORGES, Florent, L’histoire de Mario: 1981-1991, l’ascension d’une icône, entre mythes et réalité, Triel-sur-Seine, Pix’n love éd., 2011.
  • BLANCHET, Alexis, Des pixels à Hollywood: cinéma et jeu vidéo, une histoire économique et culturelle, Châtillon, Pix’n love, 2010, 449 p.
  • BLANCHET, Alexis, and Guillaume MONTAGNON. Une histoire du jeu vidéo en France: 1960-1991: des labos aux chambres d’ados. Houdan: Pix’n Love éditions, 2020.
  • CAILLOIS, Roger. Les Jeux et les hommes: le masque et le vertige. Paris: Gallimard, 1985.
  • EGENFELDT-NIELSEN, Simon, SMITH, Jonas Heide et TOSCA, Susana Pajares, Understanding video games: the essential introduction, New York, Routledge, 2008, 293 p.
  • GUINS, Raiford. Game after: A Cultural Study of Video Game Afterlife. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2014.
  • HUIZINGA, Johan, and Cécile SERESIA (trad.). Homo ludens: essai sur la fonction sociale du jeu. Photomech. Repr. Collection Tel 130. S.l.: Gallimard, 1988.
  • JUUL, Jesper, Half-real: video games between real rules and fictional worlds, Cambridge, Mass, MIT Press, 2005, 233 p.
  • KIRKPATRICK, Graeme. The Formation of Gaming Culture: UK Gaming Magazines, 1981-1995. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
  • LIGNON, Fanny, Genre et jeux vidéo, Toulouse, Presses universitaires du Midi, 2015.
  • MALKOWSKI, Jennifer, and TreaAndrea M. RUSSWORM, eds. Gaming Representation: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Games. Digital Game Studies. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2017.
  • NEWMAN, Michael Z. Atari Age: The Emergence of Video Games in America. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017.
  • RAUSCHER, Andreas, Daniel STEIN, and Jan-Noël THON. Comics and Videogames: From Hybrid Medialities to Transmedia Expansions. 1st ed. Routledge, 2020. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003035466.
  • RUFAT, Samuel et TRE MINASSIAN Hovig Les jeux vidéo comme objet de recherche, Paris, Questions théoriques, 2011, 197 p.
  • The routledge companion to video game studies, éds. Mark J. P. Wolf et Bernard Perron, New York, NY, Routledge, 2014, 518 p.,
  • The video game theory reader 2, éds. Bernard Perron et Mark J. P. Wolf, New York, Routledge, 2009, 430 p.
  • WARDRIP-FRUIN, Noah. How Pac-Man Eats. Software Studies. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2020.
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