Coursera’s free “Online Games” course will be starting up again on Monday, June 13. This course explores what happens to stories, paintings, and films when they become the basis of massively multiplayer online games. The course focuses on how The Lord of the Rings trilogy is transformed as it is presented in the different media forms: Tolkien’s novels, the Peter Jackson movies, and Turbine’s game LOTRO.
A new session of the course has been offered each year since 2013, and the next session will start on Monday, June 13. The course will last for six weeks. These courses have brought together a community with a wide variety of online games experience, from veteran LOTRO players to people who are playing an MMO for the first time.
The course is pretty much self-paced, and if you can’t quite start on June 13, it is no problem to pick up the course anytime during the first week or two and still complete all the course work easily enough.
Weekly assignments include video-taped lectures and seminars, readings from Tolkien and other authors, viewing scenes from the Peter Jackson films, and completing quizzes of multiple choice and short answer questions, as well as short essays. The “distinction track” of the course includes LOTRO gameplay as part of the weekly assignments.
The amount of time required for the course depends on several factors. If you choose not to do the “normal” track of the course which does not require any LOTRO gameplay, it may take perhaps 5 hours a week to do the reading and viewing assignments. For those on the Distinction (or “Honors”) track, it may take perhaps an extra hour or two a week for experienced LOTRO players. Students on the distinction track who are new to LOTRO should allow for additional time to become familiar with the game interface and mechanics.
The in-game assignments are designed to be doable by someone starting out with a new character; assignments in the later weeks of the course can be accomplished by characters in the 15-20 level range. While you can do the in-game assignments with high-level characters if you wish, many people taking the course roll a new character so that they can play alongside students who have not played LOTRO before and will be starting with the game prologue.
One of the best parts of the course is that it is absolutely free to audit! When I took the course, I was able to obtain all the readings and movies by free download from the internet or on loan from my local library. If you wish to take the course for credit, it is $49.
You can do the gameplay assignments with characters on any LOTRO server. However, if you are rolling a new character specifically for this course, the course staff recommends that you do so on Gladden, Laurelin, Landroval, or Arkenstone, as there are specific kinships on each of those servers that include among their membership course staff and previous students of the course. These kinships will hold special events as part of the course activity, and mentor or assist course students as needed as the course proceeds:
• Gladden (kinship: Vicarious Universe)
• Landroval (kinship: Courserrim)
• Laurelin (kinship: Course of the Ring)
• Arkenstone (kinship: Eagles of Thorondor)
If any of you are interested in doing your course activity on my server, Landroval, I hope to see you in-game!
Written By: Briallan – Officer, Courserrim kinship on Landroval