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CTIN 486 Alternative Control Workshop Spring 16

This class is currently being taught in the Interactive Media and Games department. The goal of the class is to build a critical framework around game controls and their cultural and political meanings. The class also aims to give everyone a working knowledge of Arduino and electronics.


CTIN 486 Alternative Controller Workshop Spring 16 SYLLABUS

Professor: Peter Lu, <chippermonky@gmail.com>, http://pdlla.org/
TA: Elaine Gomez, <elamgomez@gmail.com>, http://www.emgomez.com/
Materials fee: ~$60

In this class, we make a commitment to foster a welcoming and supportive environment where students of all identities and backgrounds can flourish. This means that we will issue content warnings as appropriate, use preferred pronouns, and respect self-identifications. While debate and discussion are welcome, please remain aware of the implications of your words and the images that you include in your work. If the instructor or another student points out that something you have said or shared with the group might be offensive, avoid being defensive; this is a valuable opportunity for us to grow and learn together. If you have a concern about any aspect of the class, you are encouraged to speak with the instructor. If you feel uncomfortable speaking with the instructor, you are also welcome to speak with either the undergraduate or graduate advisor for the division, who can discuss the issue with you directly or point you toward other on- and off-campus resources for addressing your concern.

Welcome to CTIN 486 Alternative Control Workshop!! The physical interface of a game is an integral part of the experience. The goal of this class is to develop both a practical and theoretical understanding of game controls. We are especially interested in the political, and cultural dimensions of a game's physical interface. Here are some questions we might try to answer in this class:

- "What and whose narratives are being told through the development and production of virtual reality technology?"
- "What are the environmental and economic consequences of an innovation driven games innovationdustry?"
- "How does has physical interface driven accessiblity in video games in the last decade?"

As a workshop class, much of the learning in this class will come through experimentation. We will spend 6 days on arduino tutorials and fabrication techniques. This is to give you tools needed to explore the subjects of this class.

In this class we will work with Arduino and learn how to use basic sensors and you will use them in your assignments. I will do a group purchase for arduino starter kits (~$55) to make sure we all have them on time. You are free to use your own arduino and sensors. I am currently working with the departament on providing soldering and electronics equipment and a space to use them.

There are no prerequisites to this class. The mindset I promote for this class is to come in and forget everything you know about games. I find that games developed with outside perspectives tend to be the most interesting.

This class will include several guest lectures to expand upon the ideas of this class. Each speaker will also be invited to take part in our class activities including running workshops, critiquing work, and providing 1 on 1 support and feedback.

Behnaz Farahi http://www.behnazfarahi.com/
hsinyu lin http://hsinyulin.info
Kate Hollenbach http://www.katehollenbach.com/

We will cover the following topics in our workshops:
-Arduino Software and Hardware
-Blinky LED
-Serial Input/Output
-Electronics Theory 101
-Capacitative Sensors
-Keyboard/Joystick Emulation with Arduino
-Arudino<->Unity communication with Uniduino
-Other Fabrication Techniques

For this assignment, you will use a combination of fabrication, arduino, and any other tools of your choice, to build your own custom controller for a game of your choice.

1. Must use arduino with at least one sensor.
2. The controller must change BOTH the way you play and interpret the game (refer to examples given in class)
3. Must have a unique and developed look and feel. The controllers do not need to look "good", but they do need to look interesting! Controllers that are just sensors on a breadboard will NOT be accepted.
4. Must have a total of at least 6 components including 3 advanced components.

DUE: 3/11

Extra Credit: Make your controller responsive to game state. This can be accomplished by using a photoresistor taped to the screen to read output from the game. You could also use a vibration sensor taped to controller with rumble.

For this assignment you will develop your own "critical" game that uses a custom physical interface.

Proposal (due 3/25): You must present your concept to us first and incorporate our feedback. Please prepare a 3-5 minute presentation on your idea. Please email me (chippermonky@gmail.com) your presentation as a PDF for zip archive of images.

1. A physical/electronic component that is integral to the experience/expression of the game.
2. The game must have a critical point of view.
3. A one paragraph description of your game and why it is interesting.

A software component to this project is NOT required. This is a very open ended project and I would encourage you to go outside your comfort zone. I included some examples of what a game without a software could be.

DUE: 4/29 (last day of class)


%50 - participation
%50 - assignments


1 - 1/15: introductions, VR History Lecture
	-Handout: syllabus, questionaire
	-History of VR Lecture
2 - 1/22: Arduino Workshop
	-Arduino introduction
3 - 1/29: Arduino Workshop
4 - 2/5: Arduino Workshop
5 - 2/12: Arduino Workshop
6 - 2/19: Fabrication Workshop
	-Handout: Takehome quiz
	-sewing demo
7 - 2/26: Fabrication Workshop
	-Due: quiz
	-everyone bring some junk and lets party
8 - 3/4: Serious Games Lecture + Discussion
9 - 3/11: Playtest/Critique
	-Due: Assignment 1
10 - 3/18: Presentations
	-Due: assignment 2 concept presentations
11 - 3/25: TBA
12 - 4/1: TBA
13 - 4/8: Work Day
14 - 4/15: Perfect Woman Demo + diversity in games lecture
15 - 4/22: Final Project Playtest/Critique
	-Due: Assignment 2


:Academic Conduct:
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:Support Systems:
A number of USC’s schools provide support for students who need help with scholarly writing.  Check with your advisor or program staff to find out more.  Students whose primary language is not English should check with the American Language Institute http://dornsife.usc.edu/ali, which sponsors courses and workshops specifically for international graduate students.  The Office of Disability Services and Programs http://sait.usc.edu/academicsupport/centerprograms/dsp/home_index.html provides certification for students with disabilities and helps arrange the relevant accommodations.  If an officially  declared emergency makes travel to campus infeasible, USC Emergency Information http://emergency.usc.edu will provide safety and other updates, including ways in which instruction will be continued by means of blackboard, teleconferencing, and other technology.