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Better Than Real Life: Critical Theory of Videogames

at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research - East Village

(17)
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$315
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Location:
East Village, Manhattan
Wyoming Building, 5 East 3rd St
Btwn Bowery & 2nd Avenues
New York, New York 10003
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Description
Class Level: All levels
Age Requirements: 18 and older
Average Class Size: 12

What you'll learn in this brainy class:

In this class, we will explore this particular possibility as we apply an array of aesthetic, literary, and social thought towards the articulation of a critical theory of videogames.

In the second draft of Walter Benjamin’s celebrated essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of its Mechanical Reproducibility,” he argues: “What is lost in the withering of semblance, or decay of aura, in works of art is matched by a huge gain in room-for-play [Spielraum].” This Spielraum – which plays on the multiple meanings of the German Spiel, “play,” “game,” “performance,” “gamble,” – becomes the grounds for new emancipatory possibilities to emerge in an art freed from cultic, mimetic, and “authentic” value, freed from use-value to play. The late film and media theorist Miriam Hansen was one of the first to note, almost in passing, that perhaps Benjamin’s argument, originally constructed around film, might in fact apply more obviously and directly to videogames.

The videogame has become an ascendant cultural form of vast aesthetic, sociological, and, of course, economic significance. But a literature focusing specifically on the aesthetic experience of the player – and indeed on the Spielraum that is opened up between the game and  the player – is only beginning to come into focus.

As such, this will be a highly experimental class which will incorporate theoretical readings, in-class game analysis, and at-home play and reflection. It will be held over three Saturdays for three+ hours at a time and accompanied by a gaming installation and a series of public talks and discussions. Excerpted readings will be drawn from: Plato, Kant, Benjamin, Schiller, Haraway, Habermas, Hansen, Weber, Auerbach, Butler, Schechner, Baudelaire, Berlant, Buck-Morss, Brennan, Horkheimer, De Duve, and others, as well as more recent videogame-specific literature. Games to be considered include: Super Mario Bros., Metal Gear Solid, Journey, Fez, Portal, Metroid Prime, Noby Noby Boy, Bioshock, Child of Eden, Saints Row, Bit Trip, Monster Hunter, Katamari Damarcy and more.


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Refund Policy
Upon request, we will refund the entire cost of a class up until 1 week before its start date. Students who withdraw after that point but before the first class are entitled to a 75% refund. After the first class: 50%. After the second: 25%. No refunds will be given after the third class.

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Reviews of Classes at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research (17)

School: Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

Brooklyn Institute for Social Research

The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research was established in 2011 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Its mission is to extend liberal arts education and research far beyond the borders of the traditional university, supporting community education needs and opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the...

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