Games and play are a fundamental part of human society, and today digital games occupy a central place in popular culture, media industries, and the imaginations of players around the world. This seminar introduces students to the growing academic field of game studies, with an emphasis on close analysis of specific games as cultural objects. Through lectures, discussions, and in-class play sessions, students will build a critical vocabulary and toolbox of techniques for understanding the unique formal, aesthetic, narrative, and thematic properties of games in a variety of platforms and genres, and develop basic academic reading, writing, and research skills. No previous experience or expertise with video games is required to take this course. Restricted to first-year students. Not eligible for CR/NCR option.