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English Class Uses Video Games to Teach Literature

Matt Verrilli, Staff Writer

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After seeing the success of video game-related classes at other schools, University of New Haven English professor and chair Christopher Dowd, decided it was time to bring one here. The course, “Video Games as Literature,” is currently only being offered to honors students, but will be available to the rest of the student body in Spring 2019 as a special topics English course.

The class focuses on “narrative theory and literary theories,” and how they can be applied to video games. Dowd said that video games are the best form of interactive, non-linear literature that can tell stories in a way classic literature cannot. Students will learn literary theories and how to apply them to stories told in video games. This allows them to “think and write about them in a scholarly way,” said Dowd.

Dowd said he believes it is important to get students thinking with literary skills, and a class about video games may be more in tune with a lot of students’ interests. Typically, he said that students only take classes where they apply literary skills to books, but he said the same skills can be applied to different storytelling media such as comic books, television shows, movies, and of course, video games.

Dowd said the class revolves around storytelling in various video games, and will “look at the different ways video games tell stories.” Each game will have a different approach to telling their narrative. Students will play and discuss various AAA titles, a classification given to games produced by mid to large sized publishers, such as “Bioshock,” “Mass Effect,” “Skyrim” and more obscure, indie titles like “The Stanley Parable,” “Gone Home,” and “Papers, Please.”

“All the games were chosen because they do something unique in how they tell a story,” explained Dowd.

Dowd said the class has been designed so that it is accessible to all students, even those who don’t have an immediate interest in video games.

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English Class Uses Video Games to Teach Literature