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TCID 394 Theories of Fun and Play

This theory-based course dives into the role of fun, play, and games in society. Students will look at ancient theories of fun as well as learn about some of the earliest games ever played and examine their influence on modern games. Current tabletop and video games will also be analyzed by students through theories learned in class. Major topics covered may include: the magic circle, game rules, social games, definitions of fun and play, playing to order, edugames, serious games, chocolate-covered broccoli, cheating, spoilsports, variable ratio rewards, timed rewards, loot boxes, games for change, dark play, uncertainty, and more!


Special information

Prerequisites: WRIT 131 AND WRIT 231 or Writing requirement fulfilled.
2 Undergraduate credits

Effective August 15, 2022 to present

Meets graduation requirements for

Learning outcomes


  • Students will be able to describe how fun, play, and games have evolved throughout human histories.
  • Students will be able to explain predominant theories of fun and play in Game Studies.
  • Students will be able to explain the role of fun and play in society.
  • Students will be able to apply theories (and components of theories) of fun and play when analyzing a game.

Minnesota Transfer Curriculum

Goal 5: History and the Social and Behavioral Sciences

  • Employ the methods and data that historians and social and behavioral scientists use to investigate the human condition.
  • Examine social institutions and processes across a range of historical periods and cultures.
  • Use and critique alternative explanatory systems or theories.
  • Develop and communicate alternative explanations or solutions for contemporary social issues.

Fall 2023

Section Title Instructor books eservices
50 Theories of Fun and Play Layne, Alexandra Marie Books for TCID-394-50 Fall 2023 Course details for TCID-394-50 Fall 2023