Semester(s) Offered: Fall
Credits: 2
Course Call Number: GAMES-GT 401, GAMES-UT 401, OART-UT 1613
Taught By: Jesse Fuchs

Vlaada Chvátil is one of the world’s most renowned and influential boardgame designers. He has designed everything from the colorful map-traversal game Travel Blog to the epic civilization simulation Through The Ages, yet running through all of his games is a signature style: cerebral, funny, and exuberantly maximalistic. Chvátil’s work is deeply influenced by the “hot” medium of computer games yet highly aware of the peculiar strengths of his chosen “cool” medium. His games successfully synthesize the tabletop dialectic of the last two decades: “Eurogames”, with their emphasis on elegance, strategy, and clarity, and “Ameritrash”, with its emphasis on theme, direct interaction, and drama.

This course will examine his work through the lens of another influential designer: Richard Garfield, creator of Magic: The Gathering, Netrunner, and other best-selling games. His recent textbook, Characteristic of Games, (co-written with Skaff Elias and Robert Gutschera,) is a landmark work in formal game analysis. We will use Garfield’s conceptual frameworks and formal vocabulary to illuminate the important qualities of Chvátil’s work.

This course uses close analysis, discussion, readings, and papers, to enable students to master the challenging art of critical play – the ability to appreciate and articulate the unique aesthetic qualities of games.