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230591 Playing with Fear: Analyzing Horror in Video Games (S) (SoSe 2018)

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This seminar is taught in cooperation of Tyll Zybura and Mahshid Mayar with Florian Kelle <florian.kelle@uni-bielefeld.de> and Laurenz Junker <ljunker@uni-bielefeld.de>.

Video games are a unique medium which employs narrative techniques we are used to from other media, such as a film and novels. Despite these parallels, games are fundamentally different in how they convey and evoke emotions. What makes games so unique is their specific mediality: Games are interactive. Instead of mere passive reception, we engage in acts of play. In doing so, we interact with a medium which, in turn, affects us in a most enthralling manner. In this context, horror games are an incredibly engaging genre. Terror and horror are experienced with an immediacy that other mediums simply cannot convey; we play with our fears.

In this seminar, students will be introduced to theories of play, game studies and the genre of horror. We will build an analytical framework and apply it to horror games. The seminar will focus on the special mediality of games, namely interactivity, player reception, and reaction. Along those lines, we will discuss the means and merits of conveying and experiencing horror. The seminar sessions will be complemented by (voluntary) gaming nights to expose students to a larger body of games, as a means of broadening scope and fostering the notion of playing in company.

Students will be required to acquire and play the following games:

Student suggestions for other games (within a reasonable budget) are encouraged! We try to cater especially to PC versions. Should you have the game on other systems, that is acceptable, too.

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Die verbindlichen Modulbeschreibungen enthalten weitere Informationen, auch zu den "Leistungen" und ihren Anforderungen. Sind mehrere "Leistungsformen" möglich, entscheiden die jeweiligen Lehrenden darüber.

Konkretisierung der Anforderungen

The Studienleistung will consist of:

  • Weekly reading, playing and/or watching and attendance
  • An essay of 2.400 words which employs a theoretical (ideally along the lines of the seminar) to analyse a horror game of choice.
  • As an alternative to the essay, students in groups of max. 2 are encouraged to do a 30-45 minute presentation on a horror game of their choice, complemented by a short report. The presentations should deal with the games we play and build upon the theoretical framework or the additional material provided.
  • We are planning on leaving open some of the later slots for presentations on additional games. If you are interested, let us know in advance, so that we can work something out.
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