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 Media Industries and Systems  posted by  duggu   on 12/9/2007  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
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Weaver, Christopher, CMS.610 Media Industries and Systems, Spring 2006. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 09 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Playing with a handheld video game controller.





Playing with a handheld video game controller. (Photo courtesy of Jon Jordan.)

Course Highlights

This course features a guest lecture on interactive storytelling by Steve Meretzky in Week 6 of the extensive list of readings and a complete set of lecture notes. In addition, links to sample video games are available in the related resources section.

Course Description

This course examines the interplay of art, science, and commerce shaping the production, marketing, distribution, and consumption of contemporary media. It combines perspectives on media industries and systems with an awareness of the creative process, the audience, and trends shaping content. There will be invited discussions with industry experts in various subject areas. Class projects will encourage students to think through the challenges of producing media in an industry context. CMS.610 is for undergraduate credit, whereas CMS.922 is for graduate credit. Though the requirements for graduates are more stringent, the course is intended for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Special Features

  • Guest lecture audio

Technical Requirements

Special software is required to use some of the files in this course: .mp3.

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Dr. Christopher Weaver

Course Meeting Times

One session / week
3 hours / session




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A list of topics covered in the course is available in the calendar.

Course Description

The past thirty years have changed the media environment dramatically. Ever more powerful computers and graphics coupled with a variety of related technologies have forever changed the way that young consumers now choose to spend their leisure time. The choices available today compared to a generation ago are almost staggering and only promise to increase in the years ahead. The focus of this course is on the most rapidly growing segment of this new media domain: videogames. Last year, the sales of videogames exceeded the domestic Box Office for Hollywood movies. What is the videogames industry and how does it operate? What creative processes and business decisions go into shaping the development of a commercially successful game? How do industry insiders handle the mix of art, science and business necessary to make commercially successful games?

This class will look at the history, principals, seminal programs and implications of this encompassing new medium as well as help the student to develop a critical appreciation for how to apply that knowledge to conceive, develop, market and sell videogames domestically and internationally.

There will be guest lectures by media experts intimately involved in the videogames industry where students will have a unique opportunity to learn from, and interact with, some of the most important people in the industry today--from key designers and programmers to publishers and writers. Students will also participate in hands-on projects designing, creating, planning and marketing videogames.

Tentative guest lecturers include: Ernest Adams, Bob Bates, Seamus Blackley, Julian Lefay, Richard (Lord British) Garriott, Robert Garriott, Steve Meretzky, Matt Firor, George (Fatman) Sanger, Warren Spector and Johnny Wilson.

Students are responsible for checking the readings section for the most up-to-date listing of readings.

Course Requirements


Interpretive Questions 20%
Project Update Papers 20%
Final Project 50%
Class Participation 10%

Interpretive Question

Each week students will submit at least one interpretative and thoughtful question based upon the written materials for that week and one question intended for class discussion. The questions should show a solid grasp of the course material as well as provoking reflection on the part of your fellow students, the instructor, and the guest speaker. Your questions will help guide discussion of the course material. A copy of all the questions will be provided to the class each week. Questions should be emailed in by noon the Wednesday before each Friday’s class to allow for compilation and distribution.

Project Update Papers

Each Student shall submit a paper on games that were important to them as well as write a paper that proposes a game development project. The goal is for your proposal to be chosen by classmates as one of the four or five Final Projects that students shall work on as part of a team.

Final Project

Each student will participate as part of a design and development team that will be responsible for developing a working presentation, business plan, and marketing plan for a videogame. Each plan should take the overall videogame and multimedia industry into account and its various offshoots, remembering that each media genre represents a distinct user base. In most cases, these different media are sold into and consumed in some relation to each other. The ideal game would allow non-initiated consumers to derive pleasure from the experience, while still being of interest to a hardcore gaming audience. The student teams should consider the full panoply of hybrid media where a consumer can follow a story or experience across multiple channels thereby developing a more complex and rewarding overall experience.

Each student will choose to participate on one of the four or five chosen game proposals and help execute a plan for the original property and outline its development by each team member. Sales materials should include a description of the game, a graphic presentation and an account of how you propose to develop it across multiple media (PC, console, X-Box (hybrid), handhelds, posters, records, etc.). You should also have an idea of the most likely audience for your game and how to market it to different audiences as well. Each team should be prepared to lead a discussion of the overall business strategy for their product(s) and provide some comparison to other, similar games or genres. As part of your overall strategy, each team should have a plan to expand your user base by enabling users a more participatory relationship to the property. Your team should be prepared to deliver a thirty-minute presentation of your game, including gameplay, as well as strategies for the intended property which should include a range of support materials. Your materials might include: an interactive demo, a video, a graphic presentation, a Web site, story boards, graphic designs, logos, art, photos, advertising campaigns, posters, etc. Each Team Project, and the students contributing to that Team, will be judged on the basis of the product's overall quality, creativity and originality, your understanding of the core course concepts, the Team's technical competency and your grasp of the current business environment into which you would need to sell and support the product.

More detailed instructions for the final project are available in the projects section.

Class Participation

While I do not take formal attendance, I am aware of who attends regularly, participates actively, and asks insightful questions.


The use of another's intellectual work without acknowledgement is a serious offense. It is the policy of the Department faculty that students who plagiarize will receive an F in the subject, and that the instructor will forward the case to the Committee on Discipline. Full acknowledgement for all information obtained from sources outside the classroom must be clearly stated in all written work submitted. All ideas, arguments, and direct phrasings taken from someone else's work must be identified and properly footnoted. Quotations from other sources must be clearly marked as distinct from the student's own work. For further guidance on the proper forms of attribution consult the style guides available in the Writing and Communication Center, and the MIT Web site on Plagiarism.


1 (Brief) Trip Through Time  
2 Game Basics Paper 1 due: Describe your favorite game and detail its attributes and flaws
3 Game Basics (cont.)  
4 Designing Games Paper 2 due: Submit game design proposal for your game
5 Class Workshop: Teams and Projects Class Exercise: Vote on last week's game proposals

Choose development teams
6 "Storytelling and Narrative" Project material due: The team leader/producer will submit a flow chart detailing each member's tasks broken down by date. The chart should indicate the project milestones believed necessary to deliver a product demo by the first week of May 2005. The flowchart will need to take into account possible time off for vacations and weekends
7 Team Building Project team leaders: The four team leaders/producers will report on their progress assembling their teams
8 "Using Outside Resources"  
9 Play Balance and Online Games  
10 "Introduction to Marketing and Intellectual Property"  
11 Selling your Game  
12 Workshop: Polishing the Presentation and Business Plan Work on your presentations and we will discuss more presentation specifics in class
13 Team Presentations Judges Panel I: Fellow classmates

Judges Panel II: Games industry insiders
14 Discussing Last Week's Presentations  
15 Final Team Presentations   Tell A Friend