@yeso in reading the syllabus it just seems like most of the games chosen are “game-reflexive” (i like this turn of phrase) because the professor is assuming a level of familiarity with games and wants to spend time assessing them through games that also try to examine or play with the medium of games, which to me isn’t uninteresting in itself, even if some of the games that the professor chose might kinda suck
in my mind this is better than taking a halo etc. and through force of will, using a rigid critical lens, marxism, phenomenology, new criticism, feminism, post-colonialism, whatever, anything, trying to make it a reflection of a social problem. this is a valid and interesting approach, but in academia’s exploration of “art” it’s really the only permitted approach and the author’s intent is just totally disregarded, which i hate. i think it’s this way because denying the artist any agency elevates the commentator above the artist but that’s another conversation, ha ha
in my view, especially in a 101 course, it’s more interesting to take a work that has a definite objective and learn about its historical and cultural circumstances and just try to puzzle out what it’s trying to say about, uh, “society.” that should be the fundamental step since in general a work’s cultural and historical references are going to be lost on the average student. then do the cultural critique stuff later
i guess part of the problem is, as you say, most games just don’t have any literary aspirations, and to add to that, the standards for game storytelling and their cultural commentary are very low, whereas in, say, literature, there are hundreds of years of works that do this to choose from. to be clear most of my favorite games don’t have literary aspirations and i’m glad that all games don’t
so, i like this syllabus based on the games chosen and i’m surprised it’s coming out of uchicago, which for liberal arts at least has a reputation for prizing french-style inscrutable social theory.