Technoculture, Art and Games (TAG) is an interdisciplinary centre for research/ creation in game studies and design, digital culture and interactive art

Studying at TAG

Management – on the surface it seems marginal to the films, television series and other media we care about. Yet there is no function more crucial to understanding the process of how an idea for a film makes it to the big screen, and to grasping platform-mediated cultural production today. Indeed, the era of platforms is the era of heightened management of media and people – and this is the critical issue that we will focus on in this course. In doing so, this course will range across sites of analysis, from the middle realm of media management, to the management of media franchises and entrepreneurial selves, to the management of users by social media influencers and the gender politics of their labours, to the managing of consumers through increasingly complex and arcane end-user license agreements (EULAs), apps, interfaces and retail environments. Focusing on media in the era of platform capitalism in particular, the course will map the multiple layers and levels at which media and its consumers are managed, from platforms to hardware to ad agencies and talent agencies. In the process we will screen and analyze the many self-referential films and TV series that stage these management practices and platform mediations for our enjoyment.

Mon/Weds 1:15-2:30

“The Sociology and Anthropology of Things”

The focus of this course is the study of material objects and technology and their role in the production of social life and culture. This course argues for the importance of considering nonhuman things (particularly technologies) in sociology, anthropology and modern social theory and that no theory of society will be adequate without due attention to the ways in which human life is interwoven with the materiality of the object world around it. The course is structured around two components. The first is an overview of theoretical approaches to the study of technology and material culture through case studies and the second is an engagement with interpretive methodologies for the social study of material culture in which students will be required to complete an empirical research project on the sociology/anthropology of a “thing.”

What is media archaeology? As Jussi Parikka describes, it is a subfield of media history that scrutinizes contemporary media culture through investigations of past media technologies and creative media practices. Media archaeology takes a special interest in recondite and forgotten apparatuses, practices and inventions. Media Archaeology also encourages opening up and tinkering with the “black boxes” of media technologies, in order to develop a relationship to them that is not based on being a “consumer” or “end user.” At an historical moment when our own media technologies become obsolete with increasing rapidity, the study of residual forms and practices provides valuable context for analysis, and perhaps the possibility for the emergence of something new.

This course deals with the theory, current practice, and possible trajectories of media archaeology as a discipline. Our home base will be the research collection of the Residual Media Depot, a project of the Media History Research Centre at the Milieux Institute. Work will consist of a mix of writing, thinking, talking, and hands-on encounters with materials from the collection, according to student skills and interests.

More info:

Media Archaeology 2020

Tuesdays 8:30AM – 12:30PM | EV 5.615 SGW

This course is an introduction to the design of playful activities and games in particular. Students are introduced to terminology, conceptual frameworks, and critical approaches in order to develop a precise understanding of games at a formal and pragmatic level. Students acquire and develop tools to conceive, formalize, and communicate game design ideas.
Prerequisite: Enrolment in a Computation Arts program or the Minor in Game Design or written permission of the Department.
NOTE: Students who have received credit for this topic under a CART 398 number may not take this course for credit.

Thursdays 18:30 – 22:30
EV 5.615 / EV 5.635

This studio course focuses on rhetoric, visualization of information, instructions and complex text-based content. Issues of communication, simplification and clarification of content, and information architecture will be addressed through diagrams, maps, and visualization of statistics.
All the content and concepts will turn to the production of Infographics – statics and interactives – with the well-balanced combination of text and images (graphics, charts, pictures).

Prerequisite: CART 315 or 353 or COMP 376; or written permission of the Department. This course introduces students to experimental game design, especially through the creation of their own unconventional and expressive digital games. A theoretical and critical understanding of play and games is established through lectures, discussion, game playing, game making and critiques. Students make multiple prototype games in order to better understand relationships between design, technology and the resulting player experience.

This course will introduce students to the history of critical discourse surrounding video games and literature. We will explore a range of topics, including the formal, political, economic, and cultural aspects of video games, issues of authorship, representation, and ownership, and the expressive potential of games and play. In particular we will be looking at how the critical analysis of procedures and systems can inform our understanding of structural oppression, institutional spaces, systems of circulation, and cultural reproduction.

NB: While no previous experience with video games is necessary, students should be prepared to devote a substantial amount of time outside of class to both the playing of video games on OSX or Windows (although in some cases games will also be available on Linux or mobile phones) and to the serious critical reading and writing that this class will involve.

This course focuses on games through the lens of research-creation. Time will be spent at the beginning of the class investigating the evolution of research-creation (also known as arts-based research and creative making) as a recognized area of practice as well as the development of games as valid forms of entertainment, art, persuasion and catalysts for change. The course then investigates how we can (1) advance research (broadly defined) through the act of making games; (2) use games as tools for doing research; and (3) creatively present research through games.

Readings, class discussions, and course assignments explores these areas, focusing on the following goals: defining research-creation; understanding the multiple ways research-creation can intersect with games; debating/discussing/developing standards for assessing research-creation projects that use games in some way; and experimenting with game creation. By the end of the course students should be able to:

  • clearly articulate how research-creation expands our field of knowledge making;
  • create small-scale/prototype games (analog or digital) as part of a research-creation project;
  • integrate relevant theoretical frameworks into your work/projects.

Prerequisite: Enrolment in the Major in Film Production; or enrolment in the Specialization in Film Studies and written permission of the School of Cinema. A comprehensive course introducing students to the art of making motion pictures. This course stresses the individual student’s creative efforts and expression through filmmaking. Students are expected to master basic technique and theory. Students use digital resources for acquisition and post-production. The course may require mandatory workshops outside of class time.