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The Disappointing Video Game Studies Minor at SF State

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at San Francisco chapter.

In Fall 2022, San Francisco State University launched a brand new minor for Video Game Studies under the Comparative World Literature department. The intent of the minor was to equip students with skills and knowledge to identify, apply, and describe the multimedia-rich landscape of video games and its culture. The end goal was “to train students in interdisciplinary and critical thinking… for a wide variety of careers… related to video games.” (Bulletin) 

I remember spotting the CWL department staff tabling at the Spring 2022 semester on a blustering clear day, the tabletops covered with papers advertising the minor along with advertisements for the department itself. While the minor had only been in formation during that time, the list of classes offered on the papers was exciting. It seemed the answer to the question of my academic prayers, and I was looking forward to what the minor would entail. 

The degree roadmap started with CWL 180 – Introduction to Videogames: A Comparative Perspective and segways into 3 different fields- Game Design, Interpretation and Theory, and finally Reception and Impact. With a wide array of varied courses presented on the minor’s website, it seemed like a promising minor for a student of interest.

Fast forward three semesters into the minor, Video Game Studies feels more like a social studies minor masked with a gaming console. Due to a lack of professors and budget or class cuts, a large majority of the classes in the example bulletin failed to materialize. Out of the four fields that compose the minor, only Field II – Game Design, is concerned with the technical design of games; while the other three are on the social, economic, and political roles of video games in modern day. While I acknowledge the cultural phenomena that comes with the culture of gaming culture is extremely important, I don’t need multiple classes on the same topics. 

Perhaps, the lack of design-oriented professors led to the department choosing to make low maintenance, discussion based courses. I wanted to take more courses on the actual design of games itself, such as sound design, 3D modeling, or scoring. Yet with those classes being restricted to Field II, which I already completed in a single semester, my only option was to take more discussion-based classes to fulfill it. Upon discussing it with a fellow student yesterday, we concluded that the department was just making up classes to fill the minor with so students could scrape by. 

There have been talks of the VGS minor being extended to a major in Fall 2025, as well as having a specific, VGS-centric space on campus for students in the minor to relax and recharge in. Just this semester, four new classes for the minor were offered, yet once again only two out of the four of them dealt with technical design, and those two only fulfilled Field II – Game Design. I myself will be taking my final class to fulfill the minor’s requirement in the fall. I am hopeful the department can grow this opportunity as time goes on, but for the time being I could have chosen a more worthy minor. 

Lindsey Tong

San Francisco '25

Writing for the greater good while encapsulating the mindset of an open minded individual.