Video game class on tap

A new film class at Orange Coast College will examine the history of video games.

From yesterday’s arcade classics to today’s blockbuster hits, Orange Coast College is offering a new course exploring the history of video games.

Beginning this semester, Jamie Hitchings, an instructor in the film and television department, will teach a class that is expected to be offered every semester.

“We will be talking about offline games as well as exploring the early games such as pinball, card games and computer processors,” Hitchings said. “I’m really looking forward to how much work and brain power students will be able to bring to the course.”

Hitchings will teach the progression of mainstream videogames and how they’ve gained massive popularity throughout the years. Students enrolled will get the opportunity to go on “quests” and earn “XP boosts,” which will count toward accumulated extra credit at the end of the semester.

Since the early 1980s Hitchings has been enveloped in video games, first starting on an Atari 2600 that she shared with her brother.  

After pursuing a career in interactive art and media at New York University and completing her undergraduate studies at Kansas City Art Institute, Hitchings gained an interest in gaming theory.

“It’s the newest modern art form since film. Film was a pure art form around the late 1800s taking influences from photography and art, the next brand new art form as whole has been video games and a lot of people don’t view games as an art form and realize how much layout goes into designing,” Hitchings said.

According to the Entertainment Software Association, more than 150 million Americans play video games, and 64 percent of U.S. households have at least one person who games regularly, or at minimum three hours per week.

The course will be offered as a game-based learning class with quests and badges, and will be interactive. Students also will receive a historical overview of how video games were first developed, and why companies like Nintendo have become so successful.

“When I enrolled, I had previously taken a film class that interested me in taking this course,” Joshua Chong, a 20-year-old computer science major at OCC said. “I would call myself a casual gamer, playing up to eight to 10 hours of games a week.”

Students will be challenged to create their own playable game and Hitchings plans to screen some documentaries as well. The focus of the course is aimed at students being able to understand what Hitchings calls an art form.  

“I hope that students validate their passions by taking my class. They were always told video games aren’t valuable — to go outside and throw a ball around,” Hitchings said. “Computer advancements have made gaming possible for greater graphics and exploration.”

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