CS7027 – Contextual Media

Module CodeCS7027
Module NameContextual Media
ECTS Weighting[1] 10 ECTS
Semester taughtSemester 1 & 2
Module Coordinator/s  Mads Haahr, Radek Przedpelski, Alex Towers

Module Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

LO1. Identify different approaches to interactive narrative in different types of
interactive media and select a suitable approach for a given purpose
LO2. Identify fundamental branching structures and patterns and understand
their respective characteristics
LO3. Understand the fundamentals of game-related storytelling techniques,
such as emergent narrative and environmental storytelling
LO4. Understand how interactivity affects narrative design and
LO5. Analyse interactive narratives and assess trends over time
LO6. Create interactive narratives for a range of digital media
LO7. Analyse games as texts in a structured and methodical manner in terms
of story, aesthetics, gameplay and technology
LO8. Understand games from a historical and cultural perspective
LO9. Understand how platform considerations (e.g., controllers, hardware and
social context) affects genre and gameplay
LO10. Design games using user-centric game design methodology and produce
industry-standard game design documents
LO11. Essay writing and discursive skills
LO12. Critical skills with regard to technology, culture and society
LO13. A broad overview of the state of the art in new media art, critical design
and media theory
LO14. Identify assets that may be protected as intellectual property, and
distinguish between intellectual property in its different forms.
LO15. Identify and address legal considerations arising from establishing an
online presence.

Module Content

Interactive Narratives
This course focuses on the concept of interactivity itself – how it is recognised and
understood in both theory and in practice – and how this impacts on developing
narrative structures for digital media. Students will be introduced to a variety of
theories of interactivity, the challenges and potential in creating narratives with
interactivity and the broad array of styles and contexts of interactive narrative.

Game Studies and Design
Games constitute perhaps the most interactive of interactive media forms. They
also constitute a booming section of the entertainment industry and in addition
have a range of serious applications, for example in learning and training. The
course gives the student a solid grounding in the theory of games as a medium and
in the practice of game design.

Cultural and Critical Theory
This module will provide a cultural and critical context for interactive digital media
practices. The relationship between culture, society and technology are explored,
both at the level of theory and praxis. This module component is cross-disciplinary,
using a range of theories from sociology, critical theory, anthropology, science and
technology studies, software studies and media theory.

Legal Issues for Digital Media
Legal issues relating to establishing a presence online are explored together with
how to identify and go about securing intangible assets (intellectual property) in
digital media.

This course is designed to give students an overview of the legal considerations that
arise when working in the online environment. While not designed to put students
in a position that they could advise on the subjects discussed, the course should
enable students to identify and address possible commercial opportunities and
potential pitfalls before they actually arise. Students should be aware of the variety
of commercial opportunities that may arise through the deliberate or incidental
creation of assets that may be protected via one or more forms of intellectual
property. Students should also be able to identify potential problems associated
with the use of third party intellectual property, and should also be aware of the
various legal requirements relating to retaining information and doing business in
the online world.

Teaching and learning Methods

e.g., lectures, laboratories, tutorials, online, field trips, practice-based, etc.
Please include a brief description.

Assessment Details

Assessment ComponentBrief DescriptionLearning Outcomes Addressed% of totalWeek setWeek Due
CourseworkCourseworkdAll 100

Reassessment Details


Contact Hours and Indicative Student Workload

Contact Hours (scheduled hours per student over full module), broken down by:66 hours
Semester 1: Interactive Narrative11 hours
Semester 1: Game Studies and Game Design22 hours
Semester 2: Cultural and Critical Theory27 hours
Semester 2: Legal Issues for Digital Media6 hours
Independent study (outside scheduled contact hours), broken down by:72 hours
Preparation for classes and review of material (including preparation for examination, if applicable36 hours
completion of assessments (including examination, if applicable)36 hours
Total Hours116 hours

Recommended Reading List

Interactive Narratives
Barthes, Roland (1977) Image, Text Music Fontana Press.
Baudrillard, Jean (1997) “Aesthetic Illusion and Virtual Reality” Art & Artefact ed.
Nicholas Zurbrugg, Sage, London
Harrigan, Pat and Wardrip- Fruin, Noah Edited by (2004) First Person: New Media as
Story, Performance, and Game Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Harmon, Katherine (2004) You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps OF
The Imagination Princeton Architectural Press.
Kiousis, Spiro (2002) ‘Interactivity: a concept explication’ new media & society, Vol.
4(3) Sage, London
Laurel, Brenda (1991) Computers as Theatre
Manovich, Lev (2001) The language of new media, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA:
Murray, Janet H (1997) Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in
Cyberspace. New York: The Free Press

Game Studies and Design
Ernest Adams. Fundamentals of Game Design (2nd Edition). New Riders Publishing,
Jesper Juul. Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds.
Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2005
Joost Raessens and Jeffrey Goldstein (eds.) Handbook of Computer Game Studies.
Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2005
Jesse Schell. The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses. Morgan Kauffman, 2008
Mark J. P. Wolf and Bernard Perron (eds.). The Video Game Theory Reader.
Routledge, 2003
Janet H. Murray. Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace.
New York: The Free Press, 1997
Steven Johnson. Everything Bad is Good for You: How Todays Pop Culture Is Actually
Making Us Smarter. New York: Riverhead Books, 2005
Selected papers from Game Studies and Games and Culture

Cultural and Critical Theory
Bijker, Wiebe (Ed.), (1994) Shaping Technology, Building Society, London: MIT Press.
Dunne, Anthony. (2008) Hertzian Tales: Electronic Products, Aesthetic Experience
and Critical Design, London: MIT Press.
Fuller, Matthew (Ed.) (2008). Software Studies: A Lexicon, London: MIT Press.
Halls, Stuart.,(Ed.) (1997). Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying
Haraway, Donna., (1991). Simians, Cyborgs & Women: The Reinvention of Nature
Heidegger, Martin., (1993). ‘The Question Concerning Technology’. Basic Writings.
Mackenzie, Donald (Ed.), (1999) The Social Shaping of Technology, London: Open
University Press.
Varnelis, Kazys (Ed.), (2007) Networked Publics, London: MIT Press.

Legal Issues for Digital Media
(to appear)

Module Pre-requisites

Prerequisite modules: N/A

Other/alternative non-module prerequisites: N/A

Module Co-requisites


Module Website