Are You Ready for the Armchair Arcade Gaming Academy?

Matt Barton's picture

You may have heard on the back channels about a big project in the works: The Armchair Arcade Gaming Academy! If you're savvy to the ways of gaming lore and would like to seriously study, discuss, and analyze games with us, start getting your application materials ready. Classes are open to all serious students of gaming regardless of their educational and professional background. All we want are people with the same passion for The Greatest Games of All Time.

Each month, we will play, analyze, and discuss a different game in the canon, as well as its predecessors and descendants. There will be lots of homeplay in this course as we see strive to understand the social, cultural, technical, and economic impact of games such as PONG, Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Zork. We will also hear from many legendary designers, publishers, and writers in the industry--it's truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for anyone serious about gaming history.

Questions we'll ponder include:

  • What innovations did the game introduce, and how were they imitated or adapted in later games?
  • What factors make the game interesting, compelling, or dull to players then and now?
  • What design concepts does the game demonstrate, respond to, or break away from?
  • What was its social and cultural impact?
  • What lessons, if any, can we learn about ourselves by playing and studying this game?
  • How does the game's graphics, music, sound effects, and so on cohere into a unified style?
  • How does this game compare or contrast to its contemporary titles?
  • What is the story of the game's development and reception?
    • If questions like these ignite your synapses, we want you. Enrollment is strictly limited to 6 highly talented and motivated students, who will be selected based on their ability to critically engage with historically important videogames. You will be required each month to respond to playing, researching, and writing assignments, which will be ranked and posted on this website for all to see. We will also record a monthly podcast segment in which we discuss the games verbally (you will need a headset, broadband connection, and Skype for this component, as well as the ability to be online at 3 PM CST on Saturdays). You will also need to be comfortable using emulation software, or at least be able to follow instructions for getting emulators installed and working on your system. The required textbook for the class is Vintage Games by Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton. You will also be required to purchase games and other software as needed. Otherwise, there is no cost to attend the academy.

      If you are interested in applying, respond below. Everyone is eligible regardless of age, education, or background. Be sure to make your intentions clear by stating that you would like to apply or be considered. You should also describe your gaming background and why you are interested in this opportunity. While you will not be judged purely on the basis of your educational or writing ability, a clearly written and detailed response will make a considerable difference.

      All applications must be submitted by Feb 13, 2011. Feel free to ask questions or offer suggestions below.


      Dr. Matt Barton


Nathaniel Tolbert
Nathaniel Tolbert's picture
Joined: 11/06/2010
Wow! This sounds really

Wow! This sounds really intriguing. Sadly I do not think I qualify. I can't wait to hear these discussions and the history parts. It's going to be so good!

Mark Vergeer
Mark Vergeer's picture
Joined: 01/16/2006
Excellent idea Matt

Wow this will be very interesting! I wouldn't mind entering myself but will probably have to skip too many times because of work and real life commitments. Besides I am not even sure I will be able to comply with the high standards Dr Barton wants applicants to meet. I think this is a great opportunity for anyone who is serious about video games. One could view this as an elective extra-curricular course given by a man who is a University Professor! Now taking something like this would not ill-suit any Curriculum Vitae of a person who aspires to be in the games industry.

My own gaming experiences range from the early pong/ arcade and console systems and I did play a lot on the home computer systems including some of the lesser known European systems. My taste in videogames varies from casual arcade games to role playing games. While I like the odd text adventure when it comes to role playing games or strategy games the various menu systems or control schemes can be very annoying and I have always been thinking about ways to improve those keeping the game the same but the controls and presentation different.
I even did a fair amount of programming on the C64, Spectrum and MSX but never got my work published. I am seriously considering getting back into programming again and doing some small games for one of the retro computers - perhaps even do one in GWBasic/QBasic on the PC. I think adding information like I posted above is something Dr Barton is looking for in your applications.

I must say I am very excited with this new project! Kudos to you Dr Barton!


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