About this Course
4.7
68 ratings
27 reviews
Intended for both newcomers who are curious about video games and experienced gamers who want to reflect on their passion, this course will explore what happens to stories, paintings, and films when they become the basis of massively multiplayer online games. The Lord of the Rings trilogy—the novels, films, and video game—are our central example of how “remediation” transforms familiar stories as they move across media. The course is designed as a university-level English literature class—a multi-genre, multimedia tour of how literature, film, and games engage in the basic human activity of storytelling. Our journey will enable us to learn something about narrative theory, introduce us to some key topics in media studies and cover some of the history and theory of video games. It will also take us to some landmarks of romance literature, the neverending story that lies behind most fantasy games: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, a bit of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene, and poems by Keats, Tennyson, Browning, and others. Drawing on centuries of romance narrative conventions, the twenty-first century gaming industry has become a creative and economic powerhouse. It engages the talents of some of our brightest writers, artists, composers, computer engineers, game theorists, video producers, and marketing professionals, and in 2012, it generated an estimated $64 billion in revenue. Anyone interested in today’s culture needs to be conversant with the ways this new medium is altering our understanding of stories. Join me as we set out on an intellectual adventure, the quest to discover the cultural heritage of online games....
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Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Clock

Suggested: 4 hours/week

Approx. 17 hours to complete
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English, Romanian
Globe

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Calendar

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.
Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Clock

Suggested: 4 hours/week

Approx. 17 hours to complete
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English, Romanian

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Game on! The History and Theory of MMOs

The course opens with a brief look at gaming culture and history, then introduces the chief game we will study, Turbine's "The Lord of the Rings Online." We then look at some key concepts in game theory such as remediation and Jesper Juul's treatment of rules and game design from his book "Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds." We end by considering games as journeys using Constantine Cavafy's poem "Ithaca."For details about this week's Readings, go to the Syllabus page in your Resources tab. ***For details about this week's Readings, go to the Syllabus page in your Resources tab....
Reading
9 videos (Total 94 min), 1 reading, 2 quizzes
Video9 videos
Games as Culture5m
LOTRO Gameplay: Epic Quest Line, Book 112m
Remediation11m
Types of Video and Computer Games12m
A Brief History of Games9m
Juul: Emergence and Progression15m
Juul: Rules and Fiction11m
Cavafy's "Ithaca"7m
Reading1 reading
Course Overview10m
Quiz2 practice exercises
Week 1 Standard Quiz (All students complete this quiz)18m
Week 1 Honors Quiz (Honors students complete the Week 1 Standard Quiz and this quiz)4m

2

Section
Clock
4 hours to complete

LOTRO and Tolkien

After an overview of storytelling modes, we turn to Tolkien and his work. We then examine the role of quests in games and literature. Finally, we introduce romance and lyric literature using Robert Browning's poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came." ***For details about this week's Readings, go to the Syllabus page in your Resources tab....
Reading
10 videos (Total 113 min), 3 quizzes
Video10 videos
LOTRO Gameplay: Frodo and the Prancing Pony9m
Tolkien's Life and Works10m
Tolkien's Popularity8m
Themes in Tolkien's Writing14m
Quests as Structural Elements of Games12m
The Quester and the Quest9m
Part 1: Roland's Psyche6m
Part 2: Elements of the Quest Romance15m
Part 3: The Poem's Lyric Nature15m
Quiz2 practice exercises
Week 2 Standard Quiz (All students complete this quiz)16m
Week 2 Honors Quiz (Honors students complete the Week 2 Standard Quiz, this quiz, and the Week 2 Peer Review)4m

3

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Romance and Realism

This week we journey into the Mines of Moria, comparing a scene in Tolkien's novel, Peter Jackson's film, and "The Lord of the Rings Online." Then it's back to romance literature to delve into the intricacies of allegory, plot, theme, and character. The week closes with a look at John Keats' haunting ballad, "La Belle Dame sans Merci." ***For details about this week's Readings, go to the Syllabus page in your Resources tab....
Reading
13 videos (Total 129 min), 2 quizzes
Video13 videos
Genres of Romance 4m
The Romance Circle 14m
Allegory Defined 11m
Tolkien on Allegory15m
Genre and Plot Forms8m
Lost in an Episodic Plot10m
Wandering and Doubling in Romance7m
Issues of Theme and Content8m
Flat vs. Round Characters12m
Daemonic Characters and Romance Character Systems7m
Keats, "La Belle Dame sans Merci" I 7m
Keats, "La Belle Dame sans Merci" II 10m
Quiz2 practice exercises
Week 3 Standard Quiz (All students complete this quiz)12m
Week 3 Honors Quiz (Honors students complete the Week 3 Standard Quiz and this quiz)6m

4

Section
Clock
4 hours to complete

Space and Time in Three Media

Week 4's initial focus is our natural concepts of space and time, and how these dimensions inform the "storyworld" of a narrative. We then examine how directors, authors, and video game developers use these innate frameworks to tell stories, invoking Seymour Chapman's book "Film and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film." Close attention is paid to the mechanics of point of view, and how its use allows artists to connect with audiences. ***For details about this week's Readings, go to the Syllabus page in your Resources tab....
Reading
10 videos (Total 75 min), 3 quizzes
Video10 videos
Storyworlds5m
Spatial Issues in Film 8m
Gameplay: Spatial Issues in Immersive Games (Stone Trolls)9m
Point of View in Novels and Films 14m
Point of View in Games7m
Temporal Order I: Introduction 7m
Temporal Order II: Film3m
Temporal Order III: Painting 2m
Temporal Order IV: Gaming 8m
Quiz2 practice exercises
Week 4 Standard Quiz (All students complete this quiz)14m
Week 4 Honors Quiz (Honors students complete the Week 4 Standard Quiz, this quiz, and the Week 4 Peer Review)6m
4.7
Direction Signs

50%

started a new career after completing these courses
Briefcase

83%

got a tangible career benefit from this course

Top Reviews

By GDJun 17th 2016

An interesting course for anyone who likes lord of the rings online, fantasy (modern and presents), literature, video games, and/or movies! It's the ultimate combination for maximum nerddom!

By JRJan 11th 2017

I am really grateful for the course that gave me the idea and theorethical background to create a transmedia experience with my daughters around the Hobbit and Lotro

Instructor

Jay Clayton

Professor
English

About Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University, located in Nashville, Tenn., is a private research university and medical center offering a full-range of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees....

Frequently Asked Questions

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