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UC Online Course: CMN 176V Video Games Theory & Research

By Camille Ray

March 21, 2023 11:37 a.m.

According to the Entertainment Software Association, at least one gamer lives in 75 percent of American households. From sandbox games to sports simulations and real-time strategy arenas, video games remain a popular escapist entertainment appropriate for most ages. Unlike most other entertainment platforms, video games allow people of all backgrounds and beliefs to connect. By impacting modes of interaction and perception of the world, video games have begun influencing different aspects of people’s lives, from daily communication to lifelong learning. Harnessing the power of video games to contribute to social interaction and cultures, UC Davis Professor Jorge Peña investigates the cognitive effect of video game interactions in his communication theory class CMN 176V: Video Games Theory and Research. Without prerequisites or major restrictions, CMN 176V offers an in-depth understanding of video games’ influence on players and society for any student to appreciate. Professor Peña’s course draws on social science theories and research principles that promise topic incorporation often unexplored by previous interpersonal communicative studies. 

Upon enrolling this spring, students will tackle a 10-week course broken down into distinct topics every week. Between in-game advertising and eSports and gender, Professor Peña discusses every facet of the gaming industry and associated players. Depending on the week and topic, students will be required to complete a curated homework assignment that allows them to engage in concepts that apply to current events.  While the course is online, unaccompanied by the advantages of in-person learning and interaction, Professor Peña bypasses the unfavorable factors by requiring attendance at every lecture, which promotes student-led discussion. Professor Peña also emphasizes his availability during appointment-based office hours and ensures the configuration of teacher’s assistants means multiple people will be available to mentor and offer constructive advice on assignments. Grading is weighted and consists of virtual lecture attendance (20 percent of the final grade), a writing project (20 percent of the final grade), the cumulative final exam (20 percent of the final grade) and quizzes and discussion section assignments (40 percent of the final grade). By the end of the course, Professor Peña hopes that sufficient critical thinking and problem-solving occur so that students have a better understanding of the video game industry and a greater appreciation and insight into its varying effects. 

CMN 176V: Video Games Theory and Research is a one-of-a-kind course that offers an expanded understanding of video games’ effect on American culture. Most generic UC campus units are compatible and unlike most upper-division courses, it does not require students to enroll in any prerequisites, making it an easy choice to obtain graduation required basic upper-division units. For those interested in taking the course spring quarter, visit UC Online to enroll.

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