Playable Art (2015/2016, Semester 1) 

 MODULE OUTLINE Created: 14-May-2015, Updated: 16-Nov-2015
Module Code NM4227
Module Title Playable Art
Semester Semester 1, 2015/2016
Modular Credits 5
Faculty Arts & Social Sciences
Department Communications And New Media
Timetable Timetable/Teaching Staff
Module Facilitators
DR Alex Mitchell Lecturer
Tavinor, The Art of Videogames, ch 9 Videogames as Art. (Note: you will be asked to login to the library using your NUS account when you follow this link.)
Bogost, Persuasive Games, chapter 1: "Procedural Rhetoric".
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Learning Outcomes | Prerequisites | Preclusions | Teaching Modes | Schedule | Practical Work | Assessment | Workload | Participation | Academic Integrity | Copyright

This is a module that explores the intersection of art, creativity and play. Students will learn about relevant modes of play, approaches to user-generated content, design issues and challenges, types of player-driven popular art practice. They will also learn about the "Indie art games" movement and innovations in the development of art-related, casual game mechanics. Readings will come from play theory, cultural analysis and art history. The module also includes a studio component that involves the design of an original work of playable art.

NOTE: detailed information about the module may change up until the start of the module in August.
Note: if you are an SoC student and are unable to bid for this module, please submit an appeal in CORS.


Cohort 2006 and before:
Read and passed a minimum of 80 MCs.

Cohort 2007 onwards:
(Not applicable to SOC/SDE/ENG students)
Completed 80 MCs, including 28 MCs in NM, with a minimum CAP of 3.5 or be on the Honours track.

(For SOC/SDE/ENG students)
Completed 80 MCs and obtain a minimum CAP of 3.5.

Cohort 2012 onwards:
(1) Completed 80MCs, including 28MCs in NM, with a minimum CAP of 3.2 or be on the Honours track.

(For SOC students
Completed 80 MCs and obtain a minimum CAP of 3.2.

NM4882A Topics in Media Design: Playable Worlds

SEMINARS: 3 hours/week, Wednesdays 12noon-3pm

See the IVLE Lesson Plan for weekly lesson plan. There may be slight changes to the lesson plan during the semester, so be sure to check the IVLE Lesson Plan regularly.

Weekly Readings and Play Items
Each week there will be one or more readings and/or play items (games).  Be sure to complete the readings and play items before class each week, as I will assume that everyone is familiar with the readings and play items during the seminar and accompanying discussions. Note that there is no reading packet for this module - all readings will either be uploaded to the IVLE workbin, linked online, or added to the library e-reserves.

There will be three short written reflections
based on the weekly readings. This will involve writing a short response to a discussion question based on the assigned readings.
The reflections will take place during the first half of the semester.

Game Artist Reviews
Each student will write a short review and critique of a game artist or group of artists, and present a summary of their review during the weekly seminar. The reviews will take place during the second half of the semester

There will be two group projects, one in the first half of the semester, and the other in the second half of the semester.
Both projects will involve designing and implementing a playable art game prototype - the first is a board game, and the second is a computer game. There will be intermediate deliverables for the project, and weekly in-class critique and discussion. We will have a sharing/exhibition session for the completed projects at the end of the semester.

This module is 100% CA (“continuous assessment”); there is no exam.

Breakdown of marks:
Seminars (10%)
Participation: forum, in-class discussions, etc. (individual)
Reflections (15%)
3 brief reflections on weekly readings (3 x 5%, individual)
Game Artist Review (15%)
Short written review (10%) and oral presentation (5%) about a game artist or group of artists (individual)

Board Game Project (20%)
Design and implementation of a board game prototype (random groups of 3-4, 10% individual mark, 10% group mark)

Computer Game Project (40%)
Design and implementation of a computer game prototype (random groups of 3-4, 20% individual mark, 20% group mark)

Everything due in this module has a deadline. Unless there are truly exceptional circumstances, late delivery of a particular deliverable is marked down 10% for each hour it is late. See the Lesson Plan for a week-by-week snapshot of deliverables.

Warning: students may not use a project they have created (or are creating) for another module as a project submission for this module. If students want to build upon a project they have created earlier, they need to:
  • seek approval from the module instructor before starting to work on the project
  • provide information about other modules where the project has been submitted, and
  • clearly describe what is new about the project for this  module (note that "what is new'' must be significant and must be equivalent in scope to other module projects that are not based on pre-existing projects)

The official NUS policy is that student should expect to work an average of 12.5 hours/week in a 5MC module. For this module, students should expect to do roughly the following every week:
  • 2.5 hrs/wk: Seminar
  • 6.0 hrs/wk: Assignments / Projects
  • 4.0 hrs/wk: Readings and preparation for seminar
Note: this module is designed so that the work-load is about the same each week

   • If a student spends much less time on this module, it is almost certainly a sign the student will not do well.
   • If a student spends much more time on this module each week, talk to me: either you are doing more than we expect – or we have made the activities too time-consuming.

All students are expected to actively participate in lectures, tutorials, and online forum discussions during the module.

Warning! All students are expected to read and respond to email sent to their NUS email accounts.

This module makes heavy use of IVLE forums to answer questions, support discussions, and make important update announcements. Postings to the module forum are forwarded to NUS email accounts – and those are the accounts we will use if we need to contact students directly.

If students do not check/read mail sent to their NUS email accounts, the consequences may result in lower marks. In particular, students are like to be penalized if they do not respond promptly if we send them email (to their NUS email address). We cannot make exceptions and use other email accounts to contact students.

Note: it is possible to have your NUS email “forwarded” to another email account. To do this, go to https://exchange.nus.edu.sg/ and click on the link for Email Redirection (bottom, left-hand side of the page). Then, follow the instructions.

Please be aware: students need to be responsible for their NUS email accounts. If a student does not read/delete mail from an NUS account (or have it forwarded to another account), the account may “fill up” and mail to the account may bounce. This means: even though a student may be able to send mails from the account, our replies to that account will not get through.

To be very clear: “I don’t read emails sent to my NUS account” will not be an acceptable reason for missing important module announcements, updates, etc.

Academic Integrity is a critical value of the university community and integrity violations destroy the fabric of a learning community and the spirit of inquiry that is vital to the effectiveness of the University. Please find more information on Academic Integrity of FASS at http://www.fas.nus.edu.sg/docs/undergrad/plagiarism_warning.htm

Students are expected to know that using the work of others without proper attribution (e.g. without citing the work properly) constitutes plagiarism. Even when a student paraphrases another person’s work, proper citations are necessary to avoid plagiarism.

FASS offers a small e-course in plagiarism. See http://emodule.nus.edu.sg/ac Students caught plagiarising will receive a zero in their assignments and will be referred to the Deans office. Second offenders can face a fine and other disciplinary actions. So students should be sure to acknowledge any sources or material they use in their assignments!

A project should not include assets – text, art, music, or video – that are violations of copyright. The safest way to avoid this problem is to create your own assets, but students may also use copyright-free assets. Some sites with open-source materials:

    • Internet Archive http://www.archive.org
    • Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org
    • PDSounds Open Library: http://www.pdsounds.org
    • Freesound Project: http://freesound.iua.upf.edu

WARNING! Just because something is “on the Internet” does not mean it is automatically legal to use it in a project. If students use assets that they did not create, they must be able to show an explicit statement from the copyright owner that grants them the right to use those assets. (Teams will be required to provide this information as part of their project documentation.)