Flowchart Ken 101? UC Berkeley adds a fighting game course to spring semester cover image

Flowchart Ken 101? UC Berkeley adds a fighting game course to spring semester

Extra credits for Fatalities, parries, and perfect rounds–But no defeating the professor for an instant A.

UC Berkeley is helping students achieve success. Well, success in fighting games, at least. That’s right, one of the country’s most prominent universities has a course titled “The Art of Fighting Games”. The focus of the course will not only be in getting gud, but also interacting with modern Japanese culture through the lens of popular media.

What will the fighting game course teach?

“The Art of Fighting Games” will aim to teach students the fundamentals of 2D fighting games (Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, etc) up to a mid-level of play. But it won't just teach college kids how to wombo combo. The course syllabus also claims that it “is also designed to serve as a gateway to understanding modern Japanese culture”.

Mortal Kombat 1 (Image via Mortal Kombat on YouTube)
Mortal Kombat 1 (Image via Mortal Kombat on YouTube)

This course requires zero prerequisites and is catered towards students with less than 100 hours of playtime across the genre. This means that the course is not an excuse for veteran gamers to sit around and claim credits. It is instead an introduction into a major part of video game history, especially in Japan.

As for fighting game skills, the course will cover subjects ranging from general mechanics and basic offensive/defensive options. Additionally, it will teach how to control your nerves during a tournament, attack spacing, whiff punishing, VOD review, and frame data. Other content will look at Japanese stereotypes in character design, leisure culture as pertains to arcades, the decline of arcades with COVID, and the globalization of Japanese media.

How is the Berkeley fighting game course graded?

Naturally, this course is graded through tournaments. The syllabus does stress that students won’t be graded by tournament placement, but rather by their effort and commitment to improving their skills. There will be three tournaments throughout the semester.

Mortal Kombat 1 (Image via Mortal Kombat on YouTube)
Mortal Kombat 1 (Image via Mortal Kombat on YouTube)

What are the readings for this course?

Below are the readings and videos that the course will be covering, according to the syllabus. There is a mix of traditional books and journal articles, as well as articles and YouTube videos. If you'd like to follow along the Berkeley syllabus then look no further!

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