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Michigan State University

Game Studies Guild: Archive

Past Events and Related Resources | 2020

Wednesday, 1/15, 7:00-9:00pm
“Rage Games and the Aesthetics of Frustration” presented by Jonny Thurston and Bruno Ford

This session will explore as many of the following games as time and patience allow:

This session will refer to the following articles:


Wednesday, 2/12, 7:00-9:00pm 
"Playable Research: Level 101 and Serious Game Design" presented by Justin Wigard

My dissertation, Level 101: A Video Game About Video Games, is a serious video game that explores, explains, and interrogates the video game medium along three distinct paths: video game history, design, and theory. This project is aimed at educating students about the video game medium, as well as encourage critical reflection on video games and the process of playing through them. In other words, it utilizes the digital medium of the video game to self-referentially engage with video games from a humanities perspective.

This presentation, then, will present the current state of Level 101, along with data and insights gathered from undergraduate students who have played through this demo. Data was collected in three ways (pre-play surveys; real-time play; and post-play surveys). Participants will be able to play through Level 101 in its current in-progress state, gaining a deeper understanding of the design components and processes of game development. Ultimately, this presentation hopes to showcase the ludic connections between game studies, digital humanities, and critical pedagogy through a playable methodology.

This session will refer to the following books/articles/chapters:

  • Abt, Clark C. Serious Games. New York: Viking Press, 1970. Print. (Ch. 1)
  • Yusoff, Amri et al. “A Conceptual Framework for Serious Games.” In the 2009 Ninth IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies.
  • Becker, K. and J. Parker. “An Overview of Game Design Techniques.” Learning, Education, and Games, Volume One: Curricular and Design Consideration. Ed. by Karen Schrier. ETC Press, 2014, pp. 181-200.
  • Salen, Katie, and Eric Zimmerman. Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2004. Print. (ch. 1 & 2)
Wednesday, 3/25, 7:00-9:00pm 
"Apocalyptic Medievalism & Dark Souls III: Knighthood, Vulnerability, and Enlightenment" presented by Bruno Ford and Robin Aultz
This event was canceled to support the emergency transition to all-online teaching and learning due to COVID-19. We hope to offer it again Fall 2020.


Wednesday, 4/15, 7:00-9:00pm
“Friends or FighterZ? Competitive Camaraderie in the FGC” with the MSU Fighting Game Community, and MSU Sociology Dr. Pamela Smith
This event was canceled to support the emergency transition to all-online teaching and learning due to COVID-19. We hope to offer it again Fall 2020.


Past Events and Related Resources | 2017-2019

First Meeting & Critical Let's Play Event: Five Nights at Freddy's & Responses to Anxiety in Gaming 10/19/2017

(No readings)

Planning Group Meeting 11/09/2017
Overwatch & Cultural Appropriation 11/30/2017
  • See 11/09/2017 Planning Group Meeting items (below)
  • Watch Overwatch short films or compilation (links below)
  • Play Overwatch to get a sense of community and cultural norms
Akiba's Trip & Differing Regional Norms 2/26/2018
Thunderbird Strike & Indigenous Game Dev 3/26/2018
Breath of the Wild & Gender Representation 4/23/2018
Fortnite & The Battle Royale Phenomenon 9/23/2018


Bloodborne & Academia as an Arm of Colonization Ft. Robin Aultz 10/17/2018
Fire Emblem Heroes & F2P vs P2W, Gacha vs. Gambling 11/14/2018
Celeste, Borderlands, Skullgirls, and Pokémon in Accessibility & Gaming, 12/5/2018


Dark Souls | "Transmisogyny and Translation" with Robin Aultz, 1/23/2019
Halo: Combat Evolved | "Speedrunning and Intended Play" with Ronny Ford and special guest Ayre, 2/20/2019
  • Primary Material
  1. General theory of speedrunning:
  2. The Stanley Parable, Dark Souls, and Intended Play:


  • Supplemental Material
  1. Speedrun improvements over time (BotW):
  2. Developer takes on speedrunning:
  3. The Aesthetics of Speedrunning:
  4. Conference paper version of above:
  5. On Speedrunning in Final Fantasy:
  6. Origins of speedrunning:
  7. On Speedrunning’s narrative implications in Zombie games:
  8. On Speedrunning Communities and E-Sports:
  9. Speedrun variants: 
  10. On Tool-Assisted Speedrunning:


  • Book Chapters:
  1. First Chapter of Metagaming:
  2. Ludopolitics has a section:
  • Theses
  1. Tokarski, Justin C., "A meditation on loss within games" 


World of Warcraft | "History and Worldbuilding" with Daniel Fandino, 3/20/2019

Gone Home | "Queer Games" with Cody Mejeur, 4/10/2019
  • Greer, Sam. “Queer Representation in Games Isn’t Good Enough, but It Is Getting Better.” Gamesradar, 15 May 2018,
  • Kagan, Melissa. “Walking Simulators and the Gender of Wandering.” The Year’s Work in Nerds, Wonks, and Neocons, edited by Jonathan P. Eburne and Benjamin Schreier, Indiana University Press, 2017.
  • Kopas, Merritt. “On Gone Home.” Queer Game Studies, edited by Bonnie Ruberg and Adrienne Shaw, University of Minnesota Press, 2017, pp. 145–52.
  • Pavlounis, Dimitrios. “Straightening Up the Archive: Queer Historiography, Queer Play, and the Archival Politics of Gone Home.” Television & New Media, vol. 17, no. 7, Nov. 2016, pp. 579–94. Crossref, doi:10.1177/1527476416631627.


Rovi Vault Hunting: Every Friday, 11:30am - 1:30pm all summer long (2019)
Join Jonah and/or the occasional GSG special guest for an interactive, package-to-pixels plunge into a different title from the Rovi Gaming Collection. From MSU Libraries’ Video Game Labs to your screen, via Twitch, we will unpack and play with a critical eye. Will old classics hold up, or will new problems emerge under a modern social lens? Do technological advances offer more meaningful ways to play? How can video games support scholarship, anyway? Tune in and help us find out!

5/24 Heavy Rain

6/21 Mirror's Edge

6/28 Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn

7/5 Mass Effect 3

7/12 Prison Architect

7/19 Farming Simulator

7/26 Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

8/2 Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Special thanks to Chelsea Ryan for co-hosting!


Wednesday, 9/18, 7:00-8:30pm

Dawn of the Final Day: Majora’s Mask and the Gothic presented by Jonny Thurston


Wednesday, 10/16, 7:00-8:30pm (cancelled)

Yomawari: Night Alone – Traditional Folklore and Contemporary Horror presented by Dan Fandino


Wednesday, 11/20, 7:00-8:30pm 

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice – Duty, Loyalty, and Who (or What) We Pledge Them to presented by Robin Aultz



Wednesday, 12/11, 7:00-8:30pm 

Casual Wrap, Game and Chill (Join us to wind down at the end of the semester)


Huge thanks to original co-founder Cody Mejeur! He may have earned a PhD, and moved on to a teaching position, but he will always be a Guild member in our hearts.