A downloadable class

Games Literacy is an intro-level course for game designers I developed at DePaul College of Computing and Digital Media. I'm posting the lecture slides and notes from my class online in the hopes that they're helpful to other educators. It contains discussion topics, classroom exercises,  and grandiose claims. This is a living document that will likely be changed, added to and refined as I continue to teach the class.


This is not a full lesson plan or syllabus. I have in many places added annotations (see presenter notes) to explain my logic behind slides or how I use them in class. These slides are very much designed to support my own personal lecture style and pace, though. I treat lecture as a kind of performance, and a lot of the actual content and connective tissue lives in my own head. Your Mileage May Vary, but you're welcome to get anything out of it that you can.

[UPDATE: I have written up an overview of the class that includes a sample syllabus, class assignments and projects, and a reading list. You can find it here (hosted on Google Docs).]

Games Literacy was designed as a crash course in games theory and analysis, the history of games and of art games, and an introduction to different forms and modes of play. (See first slide annotations for more information on how the class is structured.) Topics include:

  • What is a game?
  • Different lenses on play
  • Structured and freeform play
  • Play communities
  • Signifiers and affordances
  • Chance and randomness
  • Role play and LARP
  • Early digital game platforms
  • Platform studies
  • Microcomputers
  • Let's curate an art show (project)
  • Interactive fiction
  • Shareware and the politics of distribution
  • Modding
  • A crash course in architecture
  • Games festivals and institutional power
  • Implicit and explicit politics
  • Let's write manifestos (project)


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Hi Anna, do you have an idea of when the slides may be available? The overview document itself is inspiring 🤩 Thank you for providing these materials on such an accessible platform.

Sorry, I didn't finish updating them before the new teaching semester started! It's almost summer break, so I should have some time to finish them soon.

Starting to read your slides now and I'm so excited! They look awesome! I'm a CS major who likes to make games in my free time - looking to do my final project on indie game dev

I really love this. Especially because I don't think I'd ever be able to take a class like this, it makes me feel like I really can look at games in a more critical/necessary lens and that I can still try to make my own. You always talk about games and art must be accessible and I love that you really hold yourself (and others) to that. It means a lot and I appreciate this so much. I actually think your game manifesto jam is the very first thing I participated in and that, along with someone at Lesbians Who Tech claiming that as long as you play any game, even Words With Friends, you *are* a gamer. These two things have completely rocked my world and I just really thank you for being one of them. Hoping for all the best for you.


This has barely anything to do with game design...


Is very complete. It makes reference to concepts that I have seen in game design books such as "Fundamentals of game design", and "The art of game design: a book of lenses". Also to the paper "MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research". Recommendable.


Just read the whole thing, really fantastic. A bunch of stuff in here I had never heard of! Thanks so much for posting it!


Oustanding - much appreciated.


This is fantastic! Going to take a look over them tonight I think. ^^


Oh my god anna, this is absolutely ace. THANK YOU for this.


This is very generous of you to post.


This is awesome!!!! 

Thank you so much for sharing!!! 

Awesome, thank you!