Courses I've conceived, designed and taught:


Performance and Play (undergraduate course, Spring 2004)

Course description: READ

Course syllabus: DOWNLOAD

Course blog:


Theater and Games (undergraduate course, Fall 2003)

Course description: READ

Course syllabus: DOWNLOAD

Course blog:



Game Design as Art Practice (BFA/MA studio class, Fall 2004)

Course description: READ

Course syllabus: DOWNLOAD

Course blog:


Ubiquitous Play in the Everyday (BFA/MFA seminar, Spring 2007)

Course description, syllabus and blog coming soon.


Some of my amazing students out for an evening of fun and games a la David Mamet. (Spring 2004/photo by Ewa Pruska)


Theater and Games (R1A Section 001)

Department of Theater, Dance & Performance Studies

University of California at Berkeley

Fall 2003

Instructor: Jane McGonigal




Members of this class will improve their writing skills as we explore the connection between plays (theater) and play (games). 


Questions we’ll explore include:

What is a game, and how do we know when we are playing?

What kinds of live performance are particularly game-like?

Why do games appear so frequently in modern drama as a central metaphor?

Is "playing" a part on stage really playful?

Do audiences and spectators get to play, too?

How do contemporary game designers draw on theatrical models?

How do we play (roles and games) in everyday life?

Our collective investigations will consist of:

reading (dramatic literature, theater history, theories of play, and game criticism);

playing (acting exercises, playground games, party games, computer games, life);

brainstorming (informal weekly discussion on our course blog); and

writing (3 formal writing assignments with peer review, a midterm writing workshop, and a final exam paper.

Performance and Play: Research (R1B Section 001)

Department of Theater, Dance & Performance Studies

University of California at Berkeley

Spring 2004

Instructor: Jane McGonigal




Members of this class will improve their research and analytic writing skills as we investigate the

connections between contemporary performance and play. Early in the semester, you will select a

research question of personal interest and spend the rest of the course exploring, revising, and

refining this question. This individual research will culminate in a final 10-page paper and a "creative

intervention" (performance, game or some combination) of your own design.


Questions we’ll explore together include:

How do actors, directors and audiences play in theatrical performances?

How do we perform as players and spectators in games, sports and everyday life?

What kinds of performances and play blur the line between theater and games?

What are the best research tools and methods for investigating, documenting and analyzing live events like play and performance?

How can we use game development and theatrical design to make a persuasive argument?

Who else is trying to answer these questions, and how can we start conversations with them?

Our collective investigations will consist of research-oriented:

class readings, assigned by me (theories of play and drama, fundamentals of game

design, recent writing in game and performance studies);

individual readings, chosen by you (theater history and criticism, actor and director

training guides, game reviews, interviews, play scripts, design documentation, fan essays, and whatever else you dig up in the course of your research!);

playing (in the classroom, in theaters, at home, on the field, onstage, online, in the streets);

brainstorming (informal weekly discussions on our blog);

writing (weekly formal and informal assignments in preparation for a final 10-page research paper on the play and performance topic of your choice); and

design (a 3-page creative document with detailed instructions for an original game or

performance related to your research topic).


Game Design as Art Practice

San Francisco Art Institute

Department of Digital Studies

Instructor: Jane McGonigal

Fall 2004



Game design allows artists to create meaningful play and interactive experience in any medium.  This introductory course, which explores both digital and non-digital games, aims to provide students with a critical vocabulary and historical context for analyzing games as art, as well as the skills and techniques necessary to incorporate game design into their ongoing art practice. 

Through a combination of theoretical readings, case studies, critical analysis and design exercises, students will explore the expressive potential of games.  They will learn how to identify, create and manipulate core game elements such as player objectives, rule systems, feedback structures, win-loss scenarios, competitive and cooperative dynamics, and social interaction.

As a final project, students will work toward the design, development and deployment of a game in any medium of their choice. 

 Note: While digitally-based projects are welcome, students may also choose to work entirely with non-digital media.  No programming or computer design experience is necessary to enroll in this course.