JOU 4930: The Cultural Impact of Video Games

Course Syllabus

This website will serve as the syllabus for JOU 4930: The Cultural Impact of Video Games (3 credits). This syllabus has been updated for section 4C78, Summer B, 2014.

Course Description and Objectives

Video games as a mass medium have developed relatively recently and became a pop culture phenomenon in America soon after their inception. While many thought video games were simply a fad, their staying power over the decades has established them as one of the most popular—and profitable—forms of mass communication. Nearly every youth in America plays video games, and every form of screen—from television to computer to cell phone—is able to play games. This course will examine the history of video games in America, with special focus on how video games have affected our culture, particularly when it comes to freedom of expression, changes in technology, and the First Amendment.

Course objectives include:

Students do not need any prior knowledge of video games, though it is likely many of you have already spent many hours with video games—and continue to do so in the present. This is NOT a course about game design, programming, business, or anything associated with the technical production of video games. If you have an interest in making video games, though, this course is sure to be useful.

Even if you have no interest in working in the game industry, this course will still be valuable to you as a mass communicator. Video games are here to stay, and many of the ongoing conversations on controversial topics like sex and violence in video games are part of the same stream of dialogue surrounding other mass media.

Class Meetings

The class will meet Tuesday and Thursday from 3:30 to 6:15 p.m. in CSE (Computer Science Engineering) room E220 unless otherwise noted.


Class time will be spent primarily in lecture, though there will be ample opportunities for discussion about video games. Students are encouraged to share their opinions and to respect the views of others.

PowerPoints will not be available before or after class lectures. However, an outline of the day's topics will be made available on e-Learning before class begins to assist you in taking notes.


Because discussion is a major component of the class, attendance is required and will be taken each class via a sign-in sheet (when attendance is taken will vary from period to period). Each attended class period is worth 10 points; 100 points total. Leaving class after you've signed in does not count as attendance for that day: staying the entire class period is considered attendance, unless other arrangements have been made. You may miss 2 attendance days (unexcused), after which point each additional day absent will result in a 10-point deduction in your final grade.

If you miss class due to illness or any other EXCUSED reason, email me BEFORE class starts. If this is not possible, email me as soon as possible. You are responsible for all material missed. For more information about missing class due to illness, see the section on Special Needs.

Computer Use

This course requires the use of E-Learning and email. Assignments, grades, and discussion boards will be found on E-Learning. Students are responsible for reading announcements and emails from class. If you bring a computer to class, please use it for class-related activities only so as not to disturb students around you.

Course Evaluations

Students are expected to provide feedback on the quality of instruction in this course based on 10 criteria. These evaluations are conducted online at Students will be notified when evaluations are open, which will be toward the end of the course.

Special Needs

Students requesting classroom accommodation must first register with the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students will provide documentation of the necessary accommodation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the instructor within the first two weeks of the semester. This course conforms to all requirements of the ADA and handles with sensitivity all matters related to gender, race, sexual orientation, age, religion or disability. Please alert the instructor if any issues arise.

If you become sick during the course of the semester, or have some major personal crisis going on, please let me know as soon as possible so I can help you work around it. When I was an undergraduate, I was very sick one semester and missed a lot of classes, but my professors were very willing to work with me. So I'm sensitive to these issues and am willing to work with you, but if you don't tell me there's a problem I can't help you.

If you need help, don't hesitate to call the UF Counseling & Wellness Center at 352.392.1575 or the UF Police Department at 352.392.1111.

Last Updated: 5/13/2014