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Course, academic year 2023/2024
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History of Computer and Video Games - JKM190
Title: History of Computer and Video Games
Czech title: Historie počítačových her a videoher
Guaranteed by: Department of Media Studies (23-KMS)
Faculty: Faculty of Social Sciences
Actual: from 2023
Semester: winter
E-Credits: 5
Examination process: winter s.:
Hours per week, examination: winter s.:2/0, Ex [HT]
Capacity: 40 / unknown (40)
Min. number of students: 10
4EU+: no
Virtual mobility / capacity: no
State of the course: taught
Language: English, Czech
Teaching methods: full-time
Teaching methods: full-time
Note: course can be enrolled in outside the study plan
enabled for web enrollment
priority enrollment if the course is part of the study plan
Guarantor: doc. Mgr. et Mgr. Jaroslav Švelch, Ph.D.
Teacher(s): doc. Mgr. et Mgr. Jaroslav Švelch, Ph.D.
Class: Courses for incoming students
The class will introduce the students to the history of computer and video games, with frequent excursions into non-digital games. Its goal is to allow students to understand digital games as a medium interconnected with social, cultural and technological histories. Moreover, it will teach students to identify and interpret influential and inspiring works in the history of games, and use the inspiration in their creative work. It emphasizes the diversity of game histories across nations and platforms, with special focus on European productions and independent, experimental games that might not be familiar to students. Lectures are organized conceptually rather than chronologically. They will be interspersed with class discussion.
Last update: Švelch Jaroslav, doc. Mgr. et Mgr., Ph.D. (20.09.2021)
Course completion requirements

Assignments will be specified. 

Last update: Švelch Jaroslav, doc. Mgr. et Mgr., Ph.D. (20.09.2021)
  • DONOVAN, Tristan. Replay: the history of video games. East Sussex, England: Yellow Ant, 2010. ISBN 978-9565072-0-4.
  • KOCUREK, Carly A. Coin-operated Americans: rebooting boyhood at the video game arcade. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015. ISBN 978-0-8166-9183-8.
  • ŠVELCH, Jaroslav. Gaming the Iron Curtain: How Teenagers and Amateurs in Communist Czechoslovakia Claimed the Medium of Computer Games. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2018. Game histories. ISBN 978-0-262-03554-5.
  • KIRKPATRICK, Graeme. The formation of gaming culture: UK gaming magazines, 1981-1995. London: Palgrave Pivot, 2015. ISBN 978-1-137-30510-7.
  • NOONEY, Laine. A Pedestal, A Table, A Love Letter: Archaeologies of Gender in Videogame History. Game Studies [online]. 2013, 13(2) [vid. 2015-12-15]. ISSN 1604-7982. Dostupné z:
  • PETERSON, Jon. Playing at the world: a history of simulating wars, people and fantastic adventures ; from chess to role-playing games. San Diego: Unreason Press, 2013. ISBN 978-0-615-64204-8. 
Last update: Švelch Jaroslav, doc. Mgr. et Mgr., Ph.D. (20.09.2021)

The complete and updated syllabus for this semester is available HERE.

List of topics: 

  1. Introduction to game historiography – approaches and methods
  2. Non-digital games (folklore games, Kriegsspiele, pen and paper role-playing games)
  3. The origins of games in research and university settings (Spacewar!, Adventure, Lunar Landing Game)
  4. Arcade machine industries and designs (Pong, Space Invaders, Missile Command, Adventure, Pitfall, Yar’s Revenge)
  5. Field trip to the arcade museum
  6. Homebrew and “bedroom” programming; 1980s British surrealism (Manic Miner, Attack of the Mutant Camels, Deus Ex Machina)
  7. Activist and political games; Computer games in Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic
  8. Genre histories; the example of the adventure game (Adventure, Mystery House, King’s Quest, Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, Walking Dead)
  9. History of game engines (Filmation, Freescape, SCUMM, ZZT, DOOM, Source, Unreal, Unity); histories of digital game labor
  10. Authorship in the history of game design (Warren Robinet, Roberta Williams, Matthew Smith, Mel Croucher, Peter Molyneux, Sid Meier, Will Wright, CliffyB, Mojang, the Flappy Bird case)
  11. History of game worlds (Ultima, The Hobbit, Knight Lore, Elite,  Dungeon Master, Wasteland, Grand Theft Auto, Daggerfall, Fallout)
  12. Regional and transnational histories – French games and “French touch” in game design; the origins of the Japanese RPG fames
Last update: Švelch Jaroslav, doc. Mgr. et Mgr., Ph.D. (26.09.2023)
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