Why a Game Canon for Game Studies Education Is Wrong

  • José P. Zagal


One of the most important parts of the design of any media literacy-related curriculum is deciding what to study. Which films should film students watch and understand? Which are the fundamental books a literature student should know? And games? What is the canonical list of games essential to a game studies education? Should we choose games that influenced game design and broadened our understanding of the medium? Or, should we pick those that were critically lauded over those that were commercially successful? A canon of video games for game studies education is an attractive idea. After all, the exemplars of a medium showcase the medium at its best, perhaps providing a yard stick against which we can compare all other games. However, there are also drawbacks in using canonical games for supporting games literacy. This chapter expands on prior research on the challenges of games education by discussing canonical lists of games and the negative impact they can have in educational settings. Each of the issues identified is described in the context of educational theory as well as relevant games research literature. The chapter concludes with an argument for the use of nontraditional, non-mass-market, noninfluential and, for the most part, unimportant video games in game studies education.


Video Game Simple Game Game Industry Established Game Game Literacy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Cinema and Interactive MediaDePaul UniversityChicagoUSA

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