New sociology course: sociology of games

A “new minor in Game Studies and Design” at the University of Montevallo includes the chance to take the elective course “sociology of games”:

Cartier and Tyler, both of whom hold doctorate degrees in math, were approached by university President William Stewart shortly after his arrival on campus last June about the possibility of offering such a course of study at the liberal arts school.

“The original idea was to focus on video games,” Cartier said. “Benton and I went to California to do research, and we found there was more to the design process than just the ability to code.”…

Students who minor in Game Studies and Design must take 24 hours in specific subjects. All students must take History of Games, Survey of Modern Games and a two-part Game Design Workshop.

The remaining 12 hours must come from a combination of: Creative Writing or Technical Writing for Games (English); Principals of Marketing (Marketing); Mathematics of Games (Math); Aesthetics of Games (Philosophy); or Sociology of Games (Sociology).

The pictures for the story show students playing Settlers of Catan, perhaps the most well-known game in a wave of newer games that have swept the market in recent years. Such games are supposed to provide a different experience than some classic American games, like Monopoly or Risk, that prompt players to crush their opponents, often leading to one happy winner and several bummed out opponents. In games like Settlers or Carcassonne or Ticket to Ride or Dominion, each player gets an opportunity to build and pursue their own goals, giving some sense of satisfaction even if they don’t win.

While some might question the need for students to pursue the academic study of games, this would seem to fit with a number of recent articles I have seen about the process of “gamification.” If society is moving toward taking more average/normal activities and making them into games, wouldn’t this minor prove useful? There could be a lot of potential for growth in this area, particularly in field like health.

I wonder exactly where the “sociology of games” might fit in the broader field of sociology. I’ve heard about the “sociology of leisure” but it isn’t a current ASA section.There is an international group for the sociology of leisure and the Wikipedia page suggests it is “fairly recent subfield of sociology.”


0 thoughts on “New sociology course: sociology of games

  1. Pingback: Getting drivers to change their commuting patterns by giving them chances to win money | Legally Sociable

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