Virginia Tech® home

Digital Games and Interactive Entertainment Curriculum


We are developing an interdisciplinary curriculum focused on the design and study of games.  The curriculum covers the components of game design, narrative devices, key user-experience concepts, ethical considerations, social and representational issues, and visual and narrative tropes. Our introductory course is team-taught by 5 faculty from around the university in a uniquely structured modular format.


Images from student course presentations
Images from student course presentations
Images from student course presentations


Activities Completed Summer/Fall 2023 Terms: 

The group met during a series of meetings during the Summer 2023 term, which were initially  held weekly and were held less frequently during the Fall 2023 term. These meetings focused on  development of new courses and a list of coursework for the to-be-proposed minor related to  design and analysis of games, particularly video games.1 At present, both a draft minor  proposal and draft introductory course proposal exist, but no completed submissions have been  proposed after delays in the transition to the Courseleaf course and curriculum proposal system  at Virginia Tech, then by pending discussions about units’ commitment to relevant courses and  teaching. All course and minor proposals are scheduled to be submitted during the Spring 2024  term for approval during the same term. 

Five members of group taught the first section of the UH4874 “Introduction to Game Studies  and Game Design” special topics course. Michael Hsiao, Zach Duer, James Ivory, Sang Won  Lee, and Avery Wiscomb taught a series of course modules in that order focused on: game logic  and prototyping; game design components and systems; social, behavioral, and ethical  dimensions of games; game interfaces and user experiences; and game narratology and  ludology. Seventeen students enrolled in the course despite it being a general honors college  elective, and sixteen finished the course. Students completed minor assignments and a major  assignment for each module, as well as a group game design or analysis project with a graded  proposal and final presentation. Hsiao served as instructor of record for the course, and each  instructor taught their segment of the course in addition to their regular teaching assignments.  The course can be taught once more (potentially Fall 2024 pending resources) as a special topics  course before the permanent version (proposal draft completed) needs to be implemented.

Additionally, the group opened a “game studio” space in Media Building 204, which was used  for student play and prototyping work during and between meetings of the game studies and  game design course. SEAD grant funds supported not only faculty time developing the  curriculum, but also purchase of game equipment for the space for student use (along with  some additional equipment purchased by ICAT, such as large monitors) and part-time pay for  students supervising the space. The Media Building is thus now host to a classroom where  games-related courses are taught (206), a game studio for student use (204), and a social and  behavioral research laboratory (105). 

Activity Planned Spring/Summer 2024 Terms

The group will meet at least monthly during Spring 2024 and as needed beyond to finalize  plans and submit proposal documents for a proposed minor related to game design and  analysis. Along with decisions about course goals, course checksheet lists, and proposal  documents, there needs to some resolution about questions related to:

  1. how team-taught  courses can be assigned, paid and credited, as the primary introductory course is planned to be  designed as such but cannot sustainably be taught by instructors in addition to their regular  departmental teaching assignments without some balance of relief or compensation
  2. the  extent to which participating units will be able to commit to regularly offering courses in a  game design and analysis curriculum. If these concerns can be addressed, all signs so far  indicate that the planned curricula have an audience at Virginia Tech. 

The group will also continue to develop relevant spaces for student coursework and activity,  particularly the “game studio” space in Media Building 204, which will be used by multiple  student groups even while the introductory course is not being taught.