May 27, 2024  
Catalogue 2023-2024 
Catalogue 2023-2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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GERM 275 - Spiel: Exploring the Wonderful World of German Board Games

1 unit(s)
Particularly with the international blockbuster Settlers of Catan, contemporary German board games have revitalized the analog gaming industry. Since the Second World War, they have set themselves apart from counterparts in the U.S. by emphasizing strategy and social skills while de-emphasizing war games and the early elimination of players. Through this Intensive, students study the history of German parlor games and board games, including such milestones as Reisewitz’s Kriegsspiel (1812), which was used to train Prussian officers in military strategy. This game set the stage for wargames in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries (including the popular board game Risk), a tradition with which contemporary German board games intentionally break. Our exploration of the history of the development of board games over approximately the last two centuries is guided by a variety of questions: What function do they  play in society for both children and adults? How do they reflect or undermine societal values? What accounts for the popularity of particular games, whether nationally or internationally? What constitutes a well-designed game? What relationship do analog games today have with the digital environment? To help investigate these questions, we travel to Germany over October Break to conduct research at one of the largest analog game archives in the world, the Deutsches Spielearchiv in Nuremberg, and then at the largest convention of analog games in the world, the Internationale Spieltage in Essen. This study trip forms the basis for several projects in the second half of the semester, including an analysis of a game, the creation and testing of a game, and the compilation of a collection of games for use by the Vassar community.

Prerequisite(s): Student is expected to have completed the equivalent of one year of Beginning German, and to be at least a Sophomore in Fall 2019.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2023/24.

Course Format: INT

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