COM537: Gaming & Social Networks

DepartmentDepartment of Communication
University: NC State University
Fall 2007Spring 2007

This graduate seminar explores the inter-relations among mobile technologies (cell phones, PDAs), location-based activities, and playful/social spaces. It investigates how multiuser games/environments can be brought into physical spaces, thus transforming our perception of urban public spaces. By creating social networks in public spaces, these games also change communication patterns among players, as well as the very concept of the cell phone.

The course explores three main areas with the ultimate goal of finding interconnections between gaming and social networks. The first part is dedicated to the definition of basic multiuser gaming concepts. We will define games as social, spatial and (non)narrative activities. Then, we will explore the history of games as social environments, with particular emphasis on role-playing games (RPGs) and multi-user domains (MUDs), as the predecessors of hybrid reality/location-based gaming. In the final section, we will investigate the concept of mobile gaming, exploring and defining different types of games which use the physical space as the game environment, such as pervasive games, location-based games, and hybrid reality games. Along the course, we will discuss possibilities for these games to be used beyond pure entertainment, drawing connections among gaming, education, art, and other location-based activities.

The overarching goal of this class is two-fold. First, it will help students to draw connections between games and the creation of social networks via the analysis of games as social and spatial activities. Second, students will apply these concepts to the definition of mobile and location-aware gaming. Broadly, the course focuses on identifying how mobile, location aware and wireless interfaces influence communication and society, changing perceptions of urban spaces.