I am now quite convinced that the University of Tampere is the right place for me. I already got a pretty good clue last year when I noticed that one of our Options courses in English philology featured H.P. Lovecraft and another is entirely about science fiction, but this one really sealed the deal.
I’m taking a course on roleplaying studies.
Originally, I was gonna just go hang out at the lectures and see if there’s anything interesting I can learn – it’s a Hypermedia/Media Culture course, at the subject studies level, which usually aren’t taken until the basic studies are finished, and I haven’t done any of those. Nor will I. So, I went there, since there was a convenient gap in my schedule, and the other lecturer, Markus Montola, talked me into taking the course.
The damn thing is worth six study credits and only includes the lectures, a 3,500-word study diary and, I kid you not, playing or running a roleplaying game session. The list of approved games is fairly short, but of the seven games, four (Under My Skin, Fat Man Down, the LARP Prayers on a Porcelain Altar and The Upgrade) are distributed in PDF as study material, and the other three (Praedor, City of Itra [hah!] and “Joutomaa”, out of Juhana Pettersson’s Roolipelimanifesti) I own. I figured that doing Praedor could work. I’ve never actually played the damn thing. Running it would probably be ideal, since many people on the course aren’t gamers and Game Masters may be in short supply.
I’m just slightly worried about my eventual grade. The last time Jaakko Stenros graded anything of mine, it was rather crushing.
The first lecture covered the basics – first they defined what’s a game (including some interesting linguistic limitations – it is a rare day indeed when English has inadequate vocabulary for something), then they defined what’s a roleplaying game, and at this point we’d been sitting on our asses for three hours. It was very entertaining, though. Montola and Stenros had good witty banter going on, and then, you can’t make a lecture about games too serious.
The course is off to an interesting start. Next week’s lecture will cover tabletop RPGs. I’m looking forward to it.
I will probably be blogging about the future lectures as well, and possibly the course material, once I can get the damn things. University web courses, never working like they should…