The English department at Jacksonville State University has announced that a new minor will be coming to the program in the fall 2022 semester – Game Studies.
The addition means students who love video games will be able to apply their passion for the hobby to a real minor, university officials said.
Other universities in the region, such as the University of Alabama, have similar courses on their curriculum. However, what is unique about JSU’s program is that it will be housed in the English department, whereas other similar study minors are generally more geared towards computer science degrees for coding or in a communications department, according to the miner’s unofficial architect, Dr. Cara Messina.
The only required course in the 18-credit minor is Introduction to Game Studies. From there, students will choose from 22 courses to “choose their own adventure, so to speak,” Messina said.
The course load will include courses in areas such as computer science, history, art and design, and humanities, and will cover an interdisciplinary course load.
As part of the English department, Game Studies can take a whole new approach to managing a diverse course load.
“I really wanted to bring it to the English department because such an important component of the game is that storytelling,” Messina said. “It’s about character development, world-building, and also how those game mechanics contribute to that world-building.”
Messina highlighted several key courses that would be available to students, such as a new “Writing About Games” course and a “Special Topics in Gaming” course.
Students will have the opportunity to learn about the history of games – by looking at older games like Atari and Sega – and take art and design courses specializing in board games and game design. board games.
“We hope to bring music at some point – think about how music is composed for games and how that kind of affects our relationship and our emotions when we play those games,” Messina said.
The program will also include a costume design class, which Messina says would benefit someone who might be interested in creating avatars and characters.
“Whatever passions the students have, if they want to apply it to the game, they can with this minor,” Messina said.
Messina will act as an informal advisor to students as minors do not have department heads. She will be there to answer questions from students on how they could apply the minor to their degrees, for example. Messina said that in addition to offering advice, she would teach the first introductory course in game studies.
The department hosts the games
English department head Dr Andrea Porter said the department was looking forward to the addition.
“The English Department is thrilled to offer our students this opportunity to turn one of their passions into jobs, like writing for the gaming industry,” Porter said. “Whether it’s offering internships or diversifying our curriculum at the undergraduate and graduate levels, this is just one of the many ways our department prepares students for jobs in today.
Messina said the English department is moving positively under Porter’s command and students can expect great things in the near future.
“The English department is currently in this incredible transition stage where we’re hiring a lot of new teachers who are awesome so far,” Messina said. “It really started three years ago. Andrea Porter – the head of the English department – has really propelled the English department forward to bring the department into the 21st century.
Messina’s idea to offer a minor in Game Studies to the department evolved from several influences. One influence, she said, came from her own love of the game.
“I’ve been playing games since I was little,” Messina said. “My dad bought me a video game called ‘The Neverhood’ – which I never heard of – but it was like a puzzle game. And I loved it.
Messina said it sparked her love for the game and she has been playing ever since. She said she plays both video games and tabletop games such as Dungeons and Dragons and board games.
Messina came to JSU in the fall semester of 2021, after graduating from Northeastern University in Boston. Messina said she pitched the idea to Porter and Dean Stacy Stone, but said she thought it would take some time to get up and running.
Dean Stone tipped her off to a new ESports minor who would also be coming to college soon, Messina said, prompting a faster push to study gaming.
With the support of the dean and head of department, Messina got the green light to start planning. Thanks to the interdisciplinary aspect of the minor, students can model the minor on many different study plans.
“It’s very interdisciplinary, which you see in some game studies programs, but it’s probably the most interdisciplinary minor I’ve seen, just because of the sheer number of courses students can take to to be able to get that minor,” Messina mentioned.
The university’s film studios, Longleaf Studios, produce real documentaries, so when asked if the Game Studies minor could produce real student-directed working games, Messina replied, “Absolutely. The computer science course, Game Design One and Game Design Two, I think they build their own games, but in the Intro to Gaming Studies course, we will also build our own games.
To help with the new minor, Messina said the university is getting a new digital writing lab with tons of new gadgets that will be an extension of the current writing center.
Along with this expansion comes new computers and updated technology that makes the Game Studies minor possible. With computers chosen specifically for games, students won’t have to rely on their personal computers as their own computers might not be able to handle the graphics or processing of construction games.
“We wanted to make sure that if we were to have a minor in game studies, we also had a space for students to use the technology they need to be successful,” Messina said.