Here you will find information on required readings, import university policies, and course-specific policies like attendance and cell phone use.

Required Texts and Videogames

Tom Bissell, Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter Publisher: Vintage; ISBN:978-0307474315; Available at bookstore or buy on Amazon
Plague, Inc: Evolved $14.99 on Steam
The Stanley Parable $14.99 on Steam
Don’t Starve Together $14.99 on Steam
Event[0] $19.99 on Steam
Supplementary Textbook: (DO NOT BUY. This book is free to access via library.pitt.edu). Jesper Juul, The Art of Failure

Grade Breakdown

Item Percentage Comments
Attendance and Participation 15 See attendance section below
Gameplay Essay 5 Counts less so you can focus on process on not worry as much
Videogame Review 15
Story Game Design Assignment 20
Team-Based Augmented Reality Assignment 20 3/4 team grade, 1/4 individual contribution
Capstone Portfolio and Reflection 20 Heavily based on revision, reflection, and a sense of overall growth
Lightning Talks 5 Pass/Fail (see policy below)

How I Will Grade Assignments

Major Assignment Rubric

Assignment Process: Evaluates whether students have followed all directions. If honest mistakes are made, an attempt to seek hep or get clarifications is evident.
Attention to Detail: Language shows thought, precision, and control in word choice. Grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling are appropriate for a final draft. Demonstrates careful attention to proofreading. If errors or problems are present, it is clear that the student has made multiple attempts to revise and improve the document.
Organization and Structure: Sequence of material, where applicable, supports rhetorical purpose. Written content seems immediate and relevant to focus. Transitions and signposting help the reader follow a line of thinking or exploration. Order of main points makes sense.
Content: Examples are specific and relevant to the central point of each paragraph. Student connects each piece of evidence to his or her main point. Quotations are always unpacked and discussed. Supplementary documents make it clear that effective note-taking and description were concerns throughout the process.
Quality of Original Thought: Work shows sophistication and originality. Demonstrates that the student engaged with the course materials. There is clear evidence of an effort to be creative.

Pass/Fail Assignments/Components

Pass/Fail assignments or components will receive either a 100% or a zero. To receive a 100%, you must turn in the assignment on time and fulfill all the required components, which are listed on all assignment descriptions.


Attendance will be taken in every class. All unexcused absences will reduce your participation grade, as will all instances on unexcused tardiness. This is a class where you have to come to do well. Every semester I am forced to give out 2-3 Ds and Fs, and it's almost always students who didn't show up regularly. In the event of an excused absence, you should get class notes from a classmate and speak to me about a makeup assignment. Your best bet here is to seldom or never miss class. Anything more than four absences, even if they’re excused, and I’ll probably recommend that you withdraw. If you know you are going to miss class for a sport commitment (or other sanctioned reason) you must let me know ahead of time so I can assign work to keep you on track.


Cell phones should be off and put away. Laptops are okay for notes and such, but you should not be messaging, using Facebook, etc. I’ll check screens regularly give you a verbal warning on your first offense. After that, I reserve the right to ask you to leave class and mark you absent if you are creating a distraction.

E-mail Etiquette

When you send me an email, please follow some basic conventions of formality and politeness. There's no need to construct the equivalent of a business letter, but please don't begin your message with "hey," and take an extra moment to make sure you spelled my name correctly. I promise to do the same with you. Also, one last thing. I'm not normally picky, but I would appreciate it if you avoid phrases like, "Unfortunately, I will not be in class today." It is unfortunate for you, not for me, so, "I'm sorry to miss class today" is more appropriate.

Extensions vs. Late Work

Life happens. Sometimes something just isn’t going to get done. If you speak to me ahead of time and I approve an extension, I will always assign a new due date and hold you to it. The trade off is that work turned in this way is probably not going end up in my hand when I grade everything else, so it’s going to get less feedback. Retroactive extensions will not be granted. You have to ask ahead of time. If you miss a deadline entirely without getting an extension, you can still do the assignment as part of the final portfolio, but you will automatically receive a 0 for the initial grade.

Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

You are expected to comply with the university’s policy on academic integrity. Anyone suspected of violating this obligation for any reason during the semester will be required to participate in the procedural process, initiated at the instructor level, as outlined in the University Guidelines on Academic Integrity, which can be found at www.fcas.pitt.edu/academicintegrity.html. Plagiarism is the use of someone else’s work without giving proper credit. Plagiarism is not tolerated by the university, so don’t do it. The minimal consequence of plagiarism in this course will be failure of the assignment with no opportunity to make it up.


If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both me and Disability Resources and Services, 216 William Pitt Union, 412-648-7890, 412-383-7355 (TTY), as early as possible in the term. DRS will verify your disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course.

Sexual Harassment

The University of Pittsburgh will not tolerate sexual assault/sexual harassment. Complete details of the University’s Sexual Harassment Policy may be found and read in its entirety at http://www.provost.pitt.edu/information-on/antiharassment_statement.html. This policy provides a variety of individuals on each University of Pittsburgh campus who should be contacted with questions or concerns.

A Note on Office Hours

My office hours are listed on every page of this website. That said, I'm usually in my office much more often than my stated office hours would suggest, and I encourage you to drop by at your convenience. I'm also happy to meet with you by appointment. If I ever need to cancel office hours on a given day, I will let you all know by email.

Writing Emphasis Course

This course has a W designation, the Dietrich School General Education Requirement for a Writing-Emphasis course, for students who have successfully completed seminar in composition or its equivalent. W-Courses are designed to teach writing within a discipline through writing assignments that are distributed across the entire term. Students are expected to produce at least 20-24 pages of written work, with "a significant portion of this work … substantially revised in response to instructor feedback and class discussion."

General Policies for Major Assignments

  1. Unless otherwise noted, all major assignments are due by the start of class time on the due date.
  2. All assignments should use creative, original titles. Titles should always be distinguished by some sort of prominent design element (size, bold, etc.)
  3. Late work is not accepted. Revisions are accepted only with the final portfolio and count only toward the portfolio grade.
  4. For all assignments, please proofread your work as carefully as possible.