Videos games have become a major cultural force, with budgets for new titles rivaling those of feature films. Yet video games are oft maligned as time wasters or contributors to deviant behavior. This course takes a different stance, and shows that games are not simply frivolous activities, but rather are emblems of societal desires. Introducing the burgeoning field of “game studies”, we will examine not only contemporary video games but also their connection to earlier forms of games and play. Topics will include the relationships between industry and indie games; forms of representation in video games; artistic uses of games for cultural critique; the connections between video games and other forms of screen-based media; and the ways in which new forms of play merge the physical and the digital worlds. Important to our investigation will be hands-on encounters with new and old games in order to highlight the connections between the theories we study and the embodied experience of play.