Game Culture

June 24-27, 2024 Lincoln Center

Games are everywhere and over 155 million Americans play them regularly on tabletops and electronic devices across the country. Their prevalence has promoted the medium as a space for expression, art, and meaning-making. Moving beyond the notion of simple entertainment, games are creating provocative experiences to promote change or understanding. This course emphasizes exploration and critical thinking as we discover how games are designed to address issues such as social justice, gender representation, behavioral change, and education. Through analyzing game artifacts and engaging in creative exercises, students will be able to think critically about games and how they are designed. Students will then apply this literacy to their own game projects.

Skills/Learning Outcomes

  • Gain familiarity with games and their potential beyond entertainment
  • Know and employ the terminology of games and design
  • Recognize the approaches, strategies, and tools needed to produce interactive experiences
  • Identify innovations that continue to change how games address complex issues
  • Develop and refine skills needed for physical and digital content creation
  • Be more creative, expressive, and analytical about all aspects of game culture
  • Create game projects via hands-on methods and digital creation tools

Overall Takeaways

Students gain a greater understanding of games and their affordances in addressing social good topics such as representation, mental health, and education. They learn that the medium has potential beyond entertainment and is an area that most people dabble in one way or another. By gaining hands-on experience with design and design thinking, students are able to create their own stories and prototypes.

Course Schedule

    • Course overview, introductions, and syllabus
    • Intro to games: What are they?
    • Deconstructing Games
    • Experience through play - A selection of board games
    • Deconstruction practice - Analyzing what was played in comparison to player types
    • Happiness Engineers: What makes games satisfying?
    • Psychological topics that connect with gameplay (i.e., conditioning, motivation, and flow)
    • What makes games beneficial for learning?
    • Repurposing mechanics for learning
    • Let’s Play! Ecochains and Timeline - Two ways of approaching learning content
    • Games are complicated…how do we get them to work in a classroom?
    • Creating an educational game prototype
    • Let’s Play! Spot It or Bananagrams for inspiration!
    • Converting game mechanics into educational systems (reframing / rephrasing)
    • What makes good stories and strong characters?
    • Key strategies for game narrative design (i.e., structure story of world / player)
    • The three dimensions of character creation (and development)
    • Strategies of writing effective (and interactive) game dialogue
    • Let’s Play! Emily is Away as an example of false choice and why it’s not always a bad thing.
    • Introduction to RPG Maker MZ - The no-frills, no programming, fun (and frustrating) game design tool!
    • Representation in Games: How has representation and inclusion changed in game spaces?
    • Representation of women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ in games
    • Games & Mental Health
    • Achieving respectful representation
    • Designing with RPG Maker MZ
    • Presentations and Discussions

Instructor Bio

Christopher Vicari 
Christopher Vicari is an educational technologist and adjunct professor. He is a multimedia practitioner and web designer, specializing in games for change. 

Course Details

Game Culture
June 24-27, 2024, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Lincoln Center Campus
Instructor: Christopher Vicari

Course Number: SULA 0140 LP4
CRN: 15865

This non-credit course is open to high school students only.


For residents, free transportation will be available daily via the Ram Van at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.


Residential: $1,650.00
Tuition for the residential program includes the course, course materials, housing, meals, and excursions in and outside of class. Move-in for this program is Sunday, June 23, 2024 and move-out is Friday, June 28, 2024.

Commuter: $1,225.00
Tuition for commuters includes the course, course materials, lunches, and excursions in and outside of class. Additional meals are available on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Students may wish to bring funds for incidentals, shopping at the Fordham Bookstore, souvenirs, and any personal items they wish to purchase.


Application deadlines: course and housing: April 15, 2024; course only: May 1, 2024. Please note that admission decisions are rolling until the class is full, and course caps are around 20 students. We recommend early application.

Application Requirements: this non-credit course is open to high school students who have completed their first year. The course is recommended for those with a 3.0 or better. No prior experience with the subject matter is required.

To apply, you will need a copy of your high school transcript and your fall report card if the grades are not reflected on your transcript.

If you are applying for housing, a brief letter of recommendation from a guidance counselor, coach, instructor, or supervisor, attesting to your maturity and responsibility as a student is required.

Please make note of the course details above because you will select your course as part of your application.


If you are not ready to apply, you can sign up to stay informed about the Fordham Summer Leaders Academy too, or email us with questions!

It's not too late! Still accepting applications for classes with open seats until May 31!