Until very recently scholars, along with society in general, considered the only real audience of the video game industry to be children and dedicated fans. Accordingly, when studies dealt with video games they mostly focused on their influence on socialization and child development. Today however, with the growth of the video game market almost matching that of the film industry, it is widely acknowledged that games are being bought and played by very different social and age groups. This in turn has led to the rapid growth of a separate academic field of game studies, which we will consider in this course. As well as examining the history of video games, this course will offer various research approaches for studying them in more critical depth. What is a video game – Is it a game or a narrative? What are the major genres of video games, and how did they evolve? How are games related to identity, sexuality, violence, education, economy, and politics? What is counter-gaming, and how have the modifications produced by gamers themselves become embedded in the video game industry? What is the relation between war, the military-industrial complex, and video games, and how can video games contribute to science? We will address these and many other questions through the multiple theories and research that constitute the emerging field of game studies.