Summer 2019 - SA 359 D100

Special Topics in Anthropology (A) (4)

The Social Lives of Video Games

Class Number: 2586

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 6 – Aug 2, 2019: Thu, 1:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Bascom Guffin
    Office: AQ 5080
    Office Hours: TH 12:00-13:00, or by appointment
  • Prerequisites:

    SA 101 or 150 or 201W.



Explores a topic in Anthropology not regularly offered by the department.


This course will examine the increasingly important role of video games in social and cultural life and discourse, and will consider how games might be mobilized to enhance understanding of the human condition and the world around us. Topics will include the anthropology of how games get made; social interactions in video games; race, gender, and sexual identity in video gaming; and how the structure and content of video games can be used to express and interpret anthropological and sociological ideas and stories in unique ways. You will read and view critical and ethnographic pieces on video games, gaming, and game creation; play and analyze selected games; and create a game design proposal as part of a team. This will be a work-heavy course and you will be expected to keep up with course requirements every week.


  • Class participation & attendance 15%
  • Weekly reading encapsulation & application 15%
  • Technical project - small game scene 5%
  • Statement of principles 5%
  • Initial proposal presentation 10%
  • Final game proposal 25%
  • Team assessments 10%
  • Critical reflection on process 15%


Assignments and Evaluation: Grades in this class will be based on a percentage scale. Reading Encapsulations will not be accepted after 1:30 p.m. the Wednesday before class; late submissions for all other assignments will result in a grade reduction of 5 percentage points per day, unless you present documentation for a medical reason or other significant emergency. With the exception of Reading Encapsulations, you must complete all graded assignments in this course or you will receive a final grade of N.

Where a final exam is scheduled and you do not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, you will be assigned an N grade. Unless otherwise specified on the course outline, all other graded assignments in this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned.

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy: The Department of Sociology and Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01‐S10.04). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style.  It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website:    



Required Games:

  • 1979 Revolution: Black Friday
  • Broken Age
  • Kisima Ingitchuna (Never Alone)
  • That Dragon Cancer
  • This War of Mine
You will also be required to play other games chosen from a provided list, or of your own choosing as approved by the instructor.


All required readings and videos are available through Canvas, the SFU Library, or online.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.