Semester(s) Offered: Fall
Credits: 2
Course Call Number: GAMES-GT 405, GAMES-UT 405

This course covers the works and legacy of Looking Glass Studios, one of the most influential video game studios of the 1990s. Through a series of seminal works including Ultima Underworld (1992), System Shock (1994), and Thief (1998), they defined and pushed the limits of first-person 3D gaming. In contrast to first-person shooters, Looking Glass’ first-person games were experiments in simulation, storytelling, and interface that were years ahead of their time, and formed a vocabulary still used today for building stories in real-time virtual worlds.

This is a history class with a forensic structure. Students will play through, discuss, read and write about Looking Glass’ games, with emphasis put on their core “immersive design trilogy” of Ultima Underworld, System Shock, and Thief and how all these works influenced and revised each other. Students will also play other games of the era for context, read articles about and interviews with the developers, and complete a series of assignments to structure their understanding.

The immediate goal is to foster a deep understanding of the work and influence of a seminal game company, the way one would for any other important group of artists in an art history context. The larger goal is to foster a set of skills for historical and critical analysis that is culturally situated and which complicates the notion of sole authorship.