Welcome to the course page for the ongoing Video Game Studies class available on Outschool.
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Recommended readings and resources will be updated each week, as will the course slideshow, so check back here regularly–
Undertale and EarthBound
Week 1 – play (or replay) Undertale and EarthBound if you have time; in a pinch, you can read a walkthrough or watch a playthrough (spoilers, naturally!)
Week 2 – read a little about the making of Undertale (including the original kickstarter) and EarthBound
Week 3 – take a shot at video game analysis and design via the fan communities springing up around these games
Bonus: My review of Deltarune ch 1+2
Final Fantasy IV, V, VI
Week 4 – There are many versions of these games out there! Here’s a good overview of the options for playing them. Let’s Plays can be helpful to review specific scenes, but nothing beats playing Final Fantasy for yourself
Week 5 – Clyde Mandelin’s translation comparisons of FFIV and FFVI are a great resource, especially if you’re working on your Japanese, and Chris Kohler’s FFV book doubles as a nice general history of the series
Week 6 – Dive into FF fandom, if you dare. For the official scoop, though, you can consult the massive Final Fantasy Ultimania Archive
Final Fantasy VII original and Remake
Week 7 – For digging into the original FFVII, I recommend
- The Myth & Materia essay series on The Well Red Mage, by yours truly
- The Lifestream and Fandom wiki
- Resonant Arc and Patrick Holleman on FFVII (youtube)
Week 8 – Bullet Points’ analysis of the Remake looks excellent. For more historical perspective, see FFVII: An Oral History on Polygon
Preview of Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
Week 9 – The playable demo is out on the Switch for free, or you can watch the playthroughs out there
Week 10 – Read into the series of trailers, teasers, and other tidbits for clues about Breath of the Wild 2
Mario 35th Anniversary Celebration
Week 11 – Overview of the Mario 35 release blitz
Week 12 – Focus on Mario 35 and the ethics of modding communities, from this NPR piece and IGN review, plus the level maps from the original game
Week 13 – Retrospective of the course so far, projects for the coming year
Semester 2: Roots of the JRPG
We’re back in 2021 with a look at more key players in the history of Japanese Role Playing Games. Here’s the slideshow, updated weekly.
January: Dragon Quest/ Dragon Warrior
Week 1 – Dragon Quest I-IV
Week 2 – Dragon Quest V-VII
Week 3 – Dragon Quest VIII-XI
Week 4 – Spinoffs and related media
A good historical overview of the series (up to IX) and interview with Yuji Horii should be enough to get you started, but which game to play first?
February: Xeno Series
Week 1 – Xenogears
Week 2 – Xenosaga series
Week 3 – Xenoblade Chronicles (original and Definitive Edition)
Week 4 – Xenoblade X and 2
A history of the developer, an interview with one of the creators, and a deep dive into the original game will keep you busy. The Xenoblade games are wildly popular nowadays, but we all know disc 2 of Xenogears is where it’s at!
March: Chrono Trigger
- Week 1 – Opening thru the Trial
- Week 2 – The Future to the End of Time
- Week 3 -The Village of Magic thru Magus’ Castle
- Week 4 – The Kingdom of Zeal thru Death Peak
- Week 5 – Side quests and Endgame
This month, we’re going to try a playthrough of just one game, widely considered to be the pinnacle of the genre: Chrono Trigger. Play along in your free time or watch one of the many let’s plays available out there–I suggest watching one without commentary, but with game audio. Along with Xenogears, the Chrono Trigger soundtrack is a gem.
April-May: Hiatus to complete student teaching program
We hope to resume the course in June
To be continued…