A game is (perhaps by definition) an activity that lacks a serious point. Yet, we humans spend a lot of time and energy playing games, and we sometimes take them very seriously. How is this possible? Are games mere entertainment, or do they have some kind of deeper value?

We will use the tools of contemporary philosophy to examine questions about games, including: What makes a game a game? Is game-design an art form? To what extent are other (more ‘serious’) areas of life similar to games? Can this similarity be used to clarify those other areas of life? What ethical obligations we have when it comes to playing games, or designing them? Is the ‘gamification’ of real life possible? Would it be a good idea?

Students will collaborate in writing a philosophy research paper, and each student will do a final project in which they design a new game.