March 05, 2024

By Haley Dittbrenner ’25

Syllabus is an ongoing series of stories that gives readers an inside look at some of Susquehanna’s most interesting classes.

The Class: Critical Approaches to Interactive & Gaming Media, COMM-379

The Professor: Nabeel Siddiqui, communications

Video games, culture and Socratic debates

Millions of Americans play video games, so why don’t they all consider themselves gamers? What are the intersections between class, gender and video games? How do video games inform our broader culture? These are some of the questions Nabeel Siddiqui, assistant professor of communications, and students try to answer in the course Critical Approaches to Interactive & Gaming Media.

“Gaming is one of the largest sectors of American entertainment,” Siddiqui said. “It is important to study it to gain a deeper understanding of the interconnection that exists between this media technology and its social, economic, cultural and political impacts.”

Students study academic articles, engage in debates, analyze scholarly films and play experimental games. They even create a video game walkthrough as part of their coursework. Along the way, they are asked to consider the broader impact of these games and their mechanics. Specifically, do violent games make people violent? Are games naturally designed to be addictive? What games are censored and why?

Siddiqui said he not only wants students to think about the material, but also to actively engage with it.

“This course is not about playing video games,” Siddiqui said. “We actually play very few games, as most students don’t have access to gaming consoles. The ones we do play are experimental, and they help us to challenge the idea that gaming is a fun, mindless activity, but instead a powerful form of media that has multifaceted effects on society.”

Learn more about Susquehanna’s communications majors — sports media, journalism & digital content, advertising & public relations, broadcasting, communication arts and communication studies.