STS 145/HPS 163.

History of Computer Game Design:

Technology, Culture, Business

Winter 2005

Source: Softline 2 (March 1983). Front cover.
Instructor: Henry Lowood  Office: M 9.30-11; W 2.30-4, Green Library 321C
TA: Waynn Lue. Graders: Douglas Wilson & Galen Davis

T 2.15-3.30; Th 2.15-4.05

Cummings Art Building, Art2

Overview of the Course

This course provides a historical and critical approach to the evolution of computer and video game design from its beginnings to the present. It brings together cultural, business, and technical perspectives. Students should come away from the course with an understanding of the history of this medium, as well as insights into design, production, marketing, and socio-cultural impacts of interactive entertainment and communication.

The course will offer reading, discussion, guest presentations and projects on the developing culture and technology of computer and video game design. Historical contexts include entertainment media, computing technology, applications of gaming technology and business history. Topics include: play in human culture; early computer games from Chess to Spacewar; the role of artificial intelligence research; history of computer graphics and sound technology; the evolution of techniques and genres of computer game design; business competition; games and the microcomputer revolution; networked gaming; gadgets and games as factors in the evolution of software and hardware; marketing; gendering of games and game play; virtual worlds; simulation; video and computer game industries; technology transfer (e.g., military simulations).

Participation in this course requires use of Stanford's Coursework system; please enroll via Axess and verify your enrollment in Coursework.

"The History of Computer Game Design" is part of "How They Got Game: The History and Culture of Interactive Simulations and Videogames," a project funded by the Stanford Humanities Laboratory. The principle investigators are Prof. Timothy Lenoir of the Program in History and Philosophy of Science and Dr. Henry Lowood, Curator for History of Science and Technology Collections, both at Stanford University.


News for Students

The IGDA will award 25 scholarships to send qualified students to the 2005 Game Developers Conference. The GDC is where game development professionals from around the world gather to share ideas and build the skills that the industry needs. Located in San Francisco, California, this year's GDC will be held March 7-11, 2005.

  • Scholarship applications must be submitted on or before Tuesday, January 18, 2005.
  • Only full-time college (or similar) students are eligible, and must be 18 years of age or older as of March 7, 2005.
  • Applicant must be an IGDA Student Member in good standing. If you are not currently a Student Member, you must join the IGDA before applying for the scholarship. All applications will be verified.
  • Past scholarship recipients are not eligible (you know who you are).
  • Recipients will be awarded one ClassicPass, with access to all sessions, roundtables, and keynotes. Breakfast and lunch included.
  • Students are responsible for all travel arrangements and costs.
  • Scholarship applications will be judged by members of the IGDA Board of Directors, Education Committee and Studio Affiliate heads.
  • Recipients will be announced by February 9, 2005.

    More information:


    Henry Lowood