18 June 2021 • STEM Cultures, Aesthetics and Politics Collide in Global Video Games

In a new Media & Society course, HWS students explore the cultural contexts of video games — and produce games of their own.

From a zombie apocalypse survival scenario to a satirical commentary on controversies sparked by COVID mask mandates, students in the Media & Society Program’s seminar created video game prototypes that reflect an understanding of global gaming cultures and the importance of games as cultural artifacts.

In “Global Video Games: Cultures, Aesthetics, Politics,” Visiting Assistant Professor of Media and Society Iskandar Zulkarnain challenged students to put themselves in game developers’ shoes. Through a process called “theory by design,” students demonstrated their knowledge of the semester’s theories and themes as they created and developed their games’ concepts and functionality.

Play the games here.

“Global Video Games” is a semester-long exploration of the production, distribution and consumption of video games as a global culture. Through thematic case studies and collaborative, hands-on projects, students examined the ways video games play and design are inflected by societal, cultural and political factors. Using a range of critical lenses — from textual analysis and procedural rhetoric, to postcolonial, feminist and queer theory — students explored trends in video game cultures in the Global South and Global North, as well as mainstream and independent video game industries, to contextualize and situate the cultural impacts of video games globally.

The photo above features Visiting Assistant Professor of Media and Society Iskandar Zulkarnain teaching in the Gearan Center.