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Virtual Worlds


  • Pierre Depaz


The world is a work of carefully assembled, organized and presented pieces of fiction, which intersect more or less intimately with our beliefs and experiences. This course will propose a suspension of disbelief in order to construct virtual cosmogonies in the Unity game engine. How can we pick, lay out and program texts, images, films, objects, spaces and procedures to persuade a virtual visitor of the coherence of our world? Drawing on environmental storytelling, procedural rhetoric, literary studies and museography, this class will explore how we can build accounts of untold stories, alternate realities and possible worlds.

Learning Outcomes

  • Gain proficiency in designing and developing interactive environments in Unity.
  • Understand the implications of dynamic information design on worldmaking and placemaking
  • Develop critical thinking of the role of media overload in today's fictions
  • Understand and apply processes for social imagination
  • Implement various procedural techniques for communicating abstract concepts in digital space

Topic Outlines

  • Real-time 3D development
  • Worldbuilding
  • Game Design


  • Constructing Social Worlds through Memory, Mimesis and Metaphor, Ribert P. Weller and Adam B. Seligman
  • The Imaginary Museum: A personal tour of contemporary art featuring ghosts, nudity and disagreements, Ben Estham
  • Ways of Worldmaking, Nelson Goodman.
  • Mythologies, Roland Barthes
  • The Practice of Looking: Image, Power and Politics, Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright
  • The Image of the City, Kevin Lynch
  • The Scenography of Kentucky Route Zero, Tamas Kemenczy
  • Video Game Spaces, Michael Nitsche, Chap. 10: Architectural Approaches
  • Game Design as Narrative Architecture, Henry Jenkins
  • The Imaginary Crisis, Geoff Mulgan
  • Procedural Rhetoric, Ian Bogost
  • Is There Love in the Telematic Embrace?, Roy Ascott
  • Hamlet on the Holodeck, Janet Murray
  • Sound Interactivity, Karen Collins
  • Narrative in Games, Marie-Laure Ryan
  • Poetics of Interactivity, Margaret Morse

Grading Rubric



  • Students will complete short daily readings of fiction and non-fiction, around the topic of worldbuilding, social imagination, and literary theory. These readings will serve as the basis for class discussions, and will be complemented by prompts provided by the instructor.
  • During the first week, students will be assigned exercises related to Unity development and world design. These will lay the ground work for their final project, and will involve both the how and why of content creation.
  • The final project will consist in a virtual world developed over the course of a week in Unity. The final project can be done individually or in pairs, and will result in a digital, dynamic exhibiting space for a world which could or could not exist. Some of the evaluation criteria will include consistency of the worldview, relevance of communication methods and expressivity of the spatial layout.


No other.

Uploaded by Pierre Depaz on 2023-07-03