780.223 (19S) Representation and Configuration in Games: Philosophical Perspectives

Sommersemester 2019

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Erster Termin der LV
15.03.2019 08:00 - 16:00 , B12.2.21
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LV-Titel englisch
Representation and Configuration in Games: Philosophical Perspectives
Seminar (prüfungsimmanente LV )
10 (20 max.)
zum Moodle-Kurs


Intendierte Lernergebnisse

Delve into the philosophical consequences of how videogames transpose physical world into a digital environment (representation) and how narration and meaning is established in gaming experience (configuration). Learn about the possibility to establish videogames as Multimedia Interactive Artpieces and approach their key features from a philosophical perspective, with the help of first-hand experience in gaming.

Final scope is to provide philosophical and phenomenological framework for a critical approach to videogames and gaming as philosophical practice.


The seminar will be taught in frontal lectures, dialogical discussion, and elenctic method, following Ca’ Foscari University Seminario Aperto di Pratiche Filosofiche (Open Seminar of Philosophical Practices) experience.


The course is split into an introductory session, three content blocks, and a restitution session.

Introductory Session:

The first session will briefly summarize course contents, present the methodology, explain the method of the Open Seminar of Philosophical Practices, and answer students’ questions. Course’s mode of exam will also be presented. Timeframe: day 1, morning.

Block 1 – Philosophical background:

The first block will present the philosophical background of the course’s perspective. It will introduce the students to philosophical analysis, establish a lexicon, and provide base phenomenological and theoretical concepts. Aesthetics, Ethics, Theoretical Philosophy, Semiology, and Phenomenology will be focus of this block. A working definition of Multimedia Interactive Artpiece will be presented. It will then briefly present an example of interdisciplinary approach: Huizinga’s anthropology, Moltmann’s theology, and Indian līlayā on the experience of gaming. In the final dialogical session, students will be divided in teams of at least three people with different academic background and decide the theme of the collective assessment. Timeframe: day 1, morning and afternoon.

Block 2 – Representation:

Second block will examine the topic of representation in videogames from a philosophical perspective according to three topics: World, Self, and Society. The morning frontal lecture will expand concepts presented in Block 1 in the three topics, thus presenting a possible approach to a critical gaming experience thanks to di Letizia’s phenomenology of gameplay experience. It will then be provided an example of critical approach to musical representation in videogames. Students will then be divided in groups and, according to available platforms, experience a brief gameplay of selected titles, approaching the gameplay critically. In the final dialogical sessions, each team will report their experience and notes and confront the titles according to the elenctic method. Timeframe: day 2, morning and afternoon.

Block 3 – Configuration:

This block will approach the subject of narration and meaning in videogames. The frontal lecture will delve into the concepts of Direct Narration and Indirect Narration, their peculiarities, and how they can convey meaning. A dedicate focus will be given to the issues related to localization and how Philosophy of Language can help an analysis of localization issues in videogames. In a dialogical session, thanks to the elenctic method, students will then be invited to collectively imagine how a videogame segment can benefit from both Direct Narration and Indirect Narration to convey its meaning. Timeframe: day 3, morning.

Restitution session:

Students will present their collective assessment to the class, which then will be discussed. A final round-up dialogical session will be held, where the class will try to reach a consensus on a proper definition (or lack thereof) of Multimedia Interactive Artwork. Each student will then propose their argument for the individual assessment. Timeframe: day 3, afternoon.


Hand-outs will be provided beforehand to the students for texts not available in English; additional references will be made available during the course.

Previous experience of the following videogames is encouraged (to avoid spoilers, mostly): 2064: Read Only Memories, Alan Wake, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, BioShock (any chapter), Dark Souls (any chapter), Nier: Automata, Deus Ex (any chapter), Firewatch, L. A. Noir, Catherine: Full Body, Life is Strange, No Man’s Sky, The Stanley Parable, Her Story, BloodBorne, Nioh.



The course features a twofold final assessment. Students will provide a collective assessment on themes agreed in block 1 to be presented in block 3 (worth 40% of the mark) and produce a philosophical essay on the course topics (worth 50% of the mark). The final 10% of the grade are shaped by student participation.


Collective assessment (40%): 

In teams of at least three people, the course participants will establish an interdisciplinary approach to videogames that can support or contest the concept of Multimedia Interactive Artpiece, provide examples and elements to support their argument, and report their conclusions to the class in a 20min presentation. They will need to combine their individual branch of knowledge with the philosophical concepts presented in Block 1. Each team will have to provide a written summary (300 words) of their assessment.

Individual assessment (50%):

The individual assessment is a philosophical essay (2000 words). Students will put forth an argument about representation or configuration in videogames, select a specific game (or part of said game) to play and, by using the philosophical concepts learned in the course and their own individual branch of knowledge, analyse their gameplay to prove or disprove their argument.

Participation (10%)


Criteria relevant for the grading of the collective assessment:

  • Interdisciplinarity shown in the presentation
  • The critical analysis of the idea of videogames as Multimedia Interactive Artpieces
  • Soundness of the argument presented
  • The usage of examples from existing games (screenshots, filmed scenes…)
  • Mastering of the chosen way to present the collective assessment, be it everything from a Power Point presentation to an actual videogame if team has adequate competences
  • A proper bibliographical listing of sources considered

Criteria relevant for the grading of the individual assessment:

  • An adequate grasp of the philosophical concepts and theories presented in the seminar
  • The demonstration of reflection and critical thinking in respect to both videogames and individual branch of knowledge
  • The ability to construct an argument in a coherent, structured, and logical fashion
  • Reliance on additional academic resources besides those presented in the course
  • Upholding proper standards regarding the formal features and citations of the AAU Department of English
  • A proper bibliographical listing of sources considered

Criteria relevant for the grading of student participation:

  • Attendance
  • Contributions to discussions
  • Openness to interdisciplinary perspectives


Note/Grade Benotungsschema

Position im Curriculum

  • Masterstudium Game Studies and Engineering (SKZ: 992, Version: 17W.2)
    • Fach: Game Studies (Pflichtfach)
      • Representation and Configuration in Games ( 0.0h SE / 8.0 ECTS)
        • 780.223 Representation and Configuration in Games: Philosophical Perspectives (2.0h SE / 8.0 ECTS)
          Absolvierung im 2. Semester empfohlen

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