History of Games
Schedule and Readings

Introduction History and Games
1/7 Introduction to the course. Syllabus and requirements. Why study games? Why study history of games? Aims of the class.
  Reading for 1/9:
  • Salen, K. and Zimmerman, E. Chapter 3 "Meaningful Play," and Chapter 7 “Defining Games,” in Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. MIT Press, 2004. DePaul Library on-line. Login to the collection, and then search for "Rules of Play"
  • Parlett, D. Chapter 1 “Welcome Aboard,” in The Oxford History of Board Games, Course On-Line
1/9 History and Games. Historical methods. Games as primary sources. What is a game?
1/14 Gameplay Leader Session. In-class exercise for learning your designated game.
Unit 1 Death and Religion in Ancient Egypt
  Reading for 1/16:
  •  Spodek, H. "River Valley Civilizations" Chapter 3 in The World's History. (Handout.)
1/16 History: Ancient Egypt. Religion and dynasticism in the New Kingdom. Records, inscriptions, art, artifacts and other archeological evidence.
  Reading for 1/21:
1/21 Game: Race Games. Senet. Descendants of Senet including Backgammon. Design principles of race games.
1/23 Play: Senet
  Reading for 1/28:
  • Piccione, Peter A. “In Search of the Meaning of Senet”, Online
  • Queen Nefertari Playing Senet, Online
1/28 Sources: Senet and Egyptian Religion. Reconstructing Senet.
Unit 2 Royalty and Society in Medieval Europe
  Reading for 1/30:
  • Greaves, R. et al. Chapter 14 "Life and Culture in Medieval Europe," in Cvilizations of the World. HarperCollins, 1993. (Handout)
1/30 History: Society and Culture in the Late Middle Ages. Social structure and hierarchy. Medieval Spain and the Muslim world.
  Reading for 2/4:
  • Yalom, M. Chapter 7 “Chess and the Cult of the Virgin Mary,” and Chapter 8 “Chess and the Cult of Love,” in Birth of the Chess Queen. HarperCollins. 2005. (Handout)
  • Parlett, Ch. 16 “Conquering Kings”, Course On-Line
2/4 Game: Strategy Games. History of Chess. Asian variants of chess. Go. Emergent properties in strategy games.
2/6 Play: Medieval Chess.
  Reading for 2/11:
  • Yalom, Chapter 11 “New Chess and Isabella of Castile", (Handout)
2/11 Sources: The Transformation of Chess.
Unit 3 People of Chance: America in the 19th Century
  Reading for 2/13:
  • Boyer, P. S. et al. "Immigration, Expansion, and Sectional Conflict 1840-1848" Chapter 13 in The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People. (Handout)
2/13 History: Risk and tradition in 19th Century America.
  Reading for 2/18:
  • Reith, G. Chapter 2 “The Pursuit of Chance” in The Age of Chance: Gambling in western culture. Routledge, 1999. (Handout)
2/18 Game: Gambling Games. The history of gambling. Divination, probability and risk. Typologies of gambling games. The boundary issues between gambling and play. The rise of professional gambling.
2/20 Play: Faro
  Reading for 2/25:
  • Green, J. H. An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling. Redding, 1845. pages 11-20, Online
  • Stith, William The Sinfulness and pernicious Nature of Gaming, 1752. (Handout)
2/25 Sources: Confessions and Exhortations
Unit 4  Children's Games as Global Mass Culture
  Reading for 2/27:
  • Ebrey, P.B., Walthall, A., Palais, J.B. "Contemporary Japan (1965 to the Present)" in East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History. Houhgton-Mifflin. (Handout)
2/27 History: The Globalization of Japanese Culture.
  Reading for 3/3:
  • Kent, S. L. Chapter 28 “The Mainstream and All its Perils” and Chapter 29 “And the Cycle Continues” in The Ultimate History of Video Games. Three Rivers Press, 2001. (Handout)
3/3 Game: Video Games. The first 25 years of video game history. Video games in Japan. The rise of Nintendo.
3/5 Play: Pokemon Trading Card Game
  Reading for 3/10:
  • Allison, A. Chapter 7 “Pokemon: Getting Monsters and Communicating Capitalism” in Millennial Monsters. (Handout)
3/10 Sources: Games and Meta-Games
3/12 Conclusion: The changing role of games and leisure
3/19 Final paper due


Marcus Schaefer
Last updated: December 11th, 2007.