For the final project, you’ll develop some creative or scholarly project that explores or interrogates an aspect of video games or videogame culture. Your project may be artistic, research-oriented, or some combination of the two. I’ll suggest several options, and in the second half of the semester, historians will discuss and create topic and project ideas. For more information about doing well on this Final Project, consult some type-specific guidelines.


  • A research paper
  • A creative essay
  • A video game level
  • A text adventure
  • A scholarly archive
  • Something else?


Since this project allows multiple options, including research, creative work, and programming, “scope” is a generic consideration to keep in mind for determining whether your work is sufficiently substantial. The basis for comparison is the research paper — a standard piece of polished, scholarly writing that includes an interesting thesis, clear organization, and valid support for its argument by way of secondary sources (at least 5) — of about 4 to 6 pages (not including bibliography). For all other options, what you produce should entail a comparable amount of effort on your part, and in the case of interactive works, I should be able to access and evaluate what I need to see in about 5 – 10 minutes of effort on my part.


In all cases, for whatever option you choose, your goal is to make some contribution to the study of game culture that draws on the material we’ve encountered this semester.


Still looking for a project? Here are some ideas generated by the Historians:

  • Kitsch/consumer games vs. ‘art’ games, or what constitutes artistic qualities in games.
  • Essay Topic: Write a 4-6 page paper in which you discuss the importance of nostalgia in games and game culture. Why is it important? What effects does it have on modern day gaming? What potential effects could it have on the future? Be sure to reference relavent corse materials like Ready Player One, Super Brothers:Sword and Sworcercy, etc. 
  • Game Programming: Create a game-like version of a research paper using Portal level design, Hammer, or other level designing software. Explore the idea of proceduralism, themes, imagery, and story-telling methods.
  • Video Project: Make a 5 minute video in which you explain video game theory to a non-gamer. This could be on applying Huizinga to the study of video games, an analysis of the Portal series, or a brief history of nostalgia. Make sure the video is easy for non-gamers to understand and therefore become familiar with the concept of video game studies.
  • Investigate Game Difficulty, its variant implementations, how it can be done well or poorly, and what effect it can have on the player’s experience. I think this would be even more interesting as or coupled with a customized gameplay example of paralleled difficulty implementations, showing not only what changes when difficulty is scaled up or down, but also how different methods of doing difficulty can change the experience, appeal, and response to aesthetic elements.
  • There is a LOT of propaganda in games like Bioshock and Portal. As a creative project, maybe you can recreate one of the images shown within the game. That, or you can pretend you work for either Rapture or Aperture and show what you would design to lure buyers (or test subjects *cough*) in. Of course this should be followed by some writing about why you chose that design and how possibly the propaganda/graphics effected your view of the environment within the game.
  • An analysis of death in video games and how it varies between games. Take two or three games and examine the severity and consequences of death. Games such as Dark Souls compared to Call of Duty where one has a consequence for death that is more than just a lower score. (Creative Essay)
  • Creative Idea: Infographic documenting the 80’s references in order from Ready Player One
  • A research paper regarding the biblical and symbolism that exists in Bioshock.  Each symbolism would have to be throughly researched in order to provided a greater understanding of it within the paper.
  • Emphasize the artistic and aesthetic elements that defines an “art game” by recreating a scene from a game through an artistic medium –ex: painting a (greyscale) scene from Limbo and emphasizing the usage/balance of dark and light within your piece
  • How is gender viewed in the online community? What does that say about videogame culture or about how the community is seen from the outside? Write a research paper or a creative essay expressing the concept of Race and Gender in video games and their effect on real world perceptions using games we have played, books we have read and experiences we ourselves may have seen online.
  • Write a research paper comparing or contrasting the role of machines and Artificial Intelligence in WarGames and the Portal franchise. How do the representations in these texts compare/contrast to society’s view of AI as a whole?
  • Write a research paper or creative essay about the “perfect” audience for Sword and Sworcery. Describe the intended target, the demographic or segment of the population that would best get the game’s jokes, references and humor in the way that individuals growing up in the 80’s would best be able to appreciate Ready Player One. What could this say about gaming culture?