Michael Abbott of The Brainy Gamer is putting together an undergraduate seminar on the history of the RPG (fun!), and the whole process of deciding what games to include and the reasons for that is pretty interesting — admittedly, I find syllabus construction to be an interesting process that can tell you a lot about the person teaching the class (and a simple fact of life for those of us who want to stay in the Ivory Tower). He's put together a lengthy list of RPGs that will be whittled down (with some assistance from helpful readers) to 15 titles that will fulfil his criteria:
Historical scope - I want to expose students to the historical arc of RPGs, reflecting their origins and evolution. I realise I could spend weeks on mimesis, Tolkien, PnP Dungeons and Dragons, etc., but I'm keen to get them playing and studying electronic games as soon as possible.
Breadth - It's important that I provide students with a wide range of RPG games encompassing a variety of gameplay and design variations. The syllabus needn't be a "greatest hits" collection. A classic like Chrono Trigger may or may not make the list depending on how many other Square-developed SNES JRPG titles make the list ....
Impact - I want to assign games that have made a notable impact or illustrate important transitions in the evolution of the medium
I'm curious to see the eventual syllabus, and Abbott has promised to keep readers in the loop regarding the final product, as well as the bibliography and reading list for the class. Sounds like exactly the kind of class I'd love to audit to offset the thrilling excitement of "The Postwar and the Idea of Japan: History and Historiography."
RPG syllabus - the big list [The Brainy Gamer]