Course Descriptions

Interactive Arts

GMD 200 Game/Play

Previously GMD 225, this is an introductory course about game culture, theory, design and development. Students will play, make and analyze games in order to build a common and more extensive vocabulary to discuss and understand the form. Principles from traditional board games, sports games, and party games will be analyzed and this analysis will then be applied to designing two paper-based games over the course of the semester.

GMD 230 2D Game Design

Previously GMD 305, this course teaches the techniques of creating video games from the ground up. Students learn to program, design, prototype and test their own projects and also work in groups. In addition to creating one’s own unique games, students learn video game history, theory, and production, including current trends in digital games and gaming.

Prerequisite: GMD 200

GMD 231 Narrative Design

Previously GMD 220, this course is an introduction to narrative strategies for digital games. Using the skills learned in their previous game design courses, students learn how to analyze, design, build, and test compelling game narratives.

Prerequisite: GMD 230

GMD 238 Sound for Games

Visualizing and designing sonic space in an interactive game environment. A range of sound design and composition strategies will be explored, relating to object proximity, virtual space, motion, indeterminacy and goal-oriented processes, applied to various aspects of audio. Projects will build toward authoring interactive sound in Wwise, integrating with collaborative video game projects realized in Unity software.

Prerequisite: IA 202

GMD 240 3D Game Design

Previously GMD 312, this course builds upon the student’s technical and design skills in 2D games and makes the jump into 3D. Students learn how to program, design and build games in 3D environments with a focus on understanding 3D workflows and tools. Students also create their own games as well as work on group projects while learning how to analyze and critique 3D game systems.

Prerequisite: GMD 250

GMD 298 Game Design Special Topics

This course looks at various aspects of game design, theory, and practice with each semester focused on a different theme. Faculty may include the MICA's Game Lab Designer-in-Residence, or a faculty member from another program at the College. Students will be expected to be read, discuss, and write about related topics as well as producing finished projects.

GMD 314 Installation Games

This course furthers the student’s skills in game design and programming with a focus on new emergent forms of gaming and their use in interactive installations. Students work on three small installations over the course of the semester both creating custom interfaces and using new game technology to creative engaging environments.

Prerequisite: GMD 305, IA 210, or IA 215

GMD 315 Hybrid Games

Explores new game design techniques by having students concurrently design, build and playtest a tabletop game and it's digital counterpart. Students work in teams to build a tabletop and digital RPGs while developing stronger game design and programming skills. The goal of this course is to examine how rapid prototyping of digital and analog games can influence and improve upon a game's design. Students are expected to have a background in either programming, game design or concept art to be considered for the course. This course works closely with students and faculty from Johns Hopkins University’s Computer Science Department.

Prerequisite: IA/GMD 225

GMD 320 Level Design

Students learn how to hone their skills in creating compelling level design. Working with level editors as well as student made assets, topics covered include setting player goals, planning player paths, assets optimization, procedural generated levels and quest design.

Prerequisite: GMD 230

GMD 330 Advanced 2D Game Design

Previously GMD 250, students build on game design and programming skills developed in 2D Game Design. Topics covered will include mechanic design, scripted behavior and A.I., procedural content generation, and mobile deployment. Throughout the semester, students produce small, personally-directed games both collaboratively and individually. Studio work supplemented by readings and discussions further exploring contemporary cultural issues surrounding digital games.

Prerequisite: GMD 230

GMD 340 Advanced 3D Game Design

Previously GMD 316, create small 3D games in groups while furthering their understanding of 3D game design, research and prototyping. The course emphasizes project management skills so that groups can successfully plan and execute their designs. Studio work is supplemented by readings and discussions further exploring contemporary cultural issues surrounding digital games.

Prerequisite: GMD 240

GMD 498 Senior Studio I

Working in teams, students spend the semester creating a game prototype that they refine and polish during the spring semester. The goal of this course is for students to demonstrate their ability to research, design and test a game which shows their own personal voice as well as an understanding of the field of game design.

Prerequisite: GMD 230 Senior Game Design majors only

GMD 499 Senior Studio II

In this course students will be refining their game prototypes into finished games and creating documentation to submit for festivals, grants, distributions, and exhibition. The course will also cover many aspects of professional development for game designers, including portfolios, web presence, funding, and entrepreneurship.

Prerequisite: GMD 498

IA 100 Intro to Interactive Arts

Students are introduced to the materials, concepts and forms of new media, robotics, games, and sound. Through studio work, lectures, presentations, and discussion, students are familiarized with current practices of integrated digital art making.

IA 202 Introduction to Sound

This course is designed to provide a basic framework for recording, editing, and composing with sound in a variety of media. No prior production knowledge is assumed. Classes will focus on creative projects, while establishing a common technical and aesthetic vocabulary through in-class demonstrations and discussions. Core techniques common to digital audio workstation environments will be explored using a combination of Adobe Audition and Ableton Live software.

IA 206 Creative Coding for the Web

Introduces principles and methodologies for developing engaging interactive projects for the web using the Javascript-based creative coding library, p5.js. Students gain a hands-on understanding of the possibilities and limitations of code as a creative medium. Studio time supplemented by readings and discussions exploring historical and contemporary perspectives on the role of the network in the visual arts.

IA 210 Interaction as Art

This course is a series of media non-specific explorations of interaction and interactivity. The goal of the course is to engage students in encounters with objects and others to learn the fundamentals of interaction within the context of art. Students investigate the way we relate to objects and people through physical engagement and group dynamics. In addition, the relationships between body, space and architecture, and how we define and challenge notions of social and physical interactions will be covered.

IA 215 Creative Coding

Creative coding = Art + Code. In this course, students are introduced to the relevant technologies, contexts, histories and materials of creative coding for interactive arts. Beginning with the open source programming language Processing, a programming language built by artists, for artists, students will learn programming fundamentals while creating personal projects. The course will then introduce Physical Computing via the CircuitPlayground Express, a microcontroller-based hardware prototyping platform that will serve as an introduction to electronics, sensors, and programming. Students develop a context for their work via lectures, presentations and critiques.

IA 221 Exp Design: Concepts and Tools

Experience design radically restructures design away from making things and toward facilitating experiences. This approach is useful both to the creation of immersive experiences as well as traditional design of all kinds. The experience designer can create moments of wonder, puzzlement, awe, or reverie using the tools of any form, be it theater, sound, architecture, games, time-based art, marketing, installation art, escape rooms or theme parks. In this class, we will dig deep into the conceptual foundations of these practices, and explore how they can be applied to design practices for maximum impact.

IA 230 Sound Art

An introduction to the development of sound as an expressive, sculptural, environmental, networked & musical medium. Students are introduced to a broad range of historical, contemporary and hybrid techniques, ideologies and creative approaches used by artists working in the field. Also, this course surveyes such pivotal genres of sound art and the avant-garde as: Musique concrète, Tape music, Electroacoustic music, Industrial & Noise music, Ambient, No Wave, IDM, Glitch, etc. Artists and Composers who helped define these genres. Concepts of interactive sound installation, acoustemology, deep listening, live performance, networked music and sound in relationship to video & the internet are also covered.

Prerequisite: FF 111, 112, or 210

IA 235 Handmade Digital Music

Features the Arduino and Teensy microcontrollers and peripherals as standalone sound instruments/objects, MIDI/OSC inputs to sound apps or as embedded soundfile players for performance, installation and/or gaming. Making, experimenting and performing together is central to this course.

Prerequisite: IA 277, Permission of Department Chair, or Graduate Standing

IA 251 Chatbots

Students learn how to program their own Chatbots in AIML and Python. Beginning with a study of ELIZA, students will familiarize themselves with the logic, history, techniques, uses, implications, and art of interactions with text-based Artificial Intelligence. While there are no specific code language pre-reqs, familiarity with a programming language will be very useful.

IA 252 Network Art

Students learn and apply various new media methods and technologies to create networked art projects. Sound, electronics, games, gaming, play and beyond are used for the creation of participatory net/web events. Students work both individually and collaboratively throughout the semester. Studio work and techniques supplements readings, lectures and discussions on current and historical perspectives on new media, electronic art, systems, and networks.

Prerequisite: IA 215

IA 255 Interactive Spaces

Students learn and apply various media, methods, concepts and technologies to create interactive and/or responsive installations, and investigate the way people relate to objects, people and spaces through the creation of dynamic, site-conditioned projects. Sound, electronics, participation, games, play and beyond are used for the creation of participatory, installation events. Students work both individually and collaboratively throughout the semester.

Prerequisite: IA 215 or IA 277, or permission of the instructor

IA 261 Arduino and Beyond

The focus of this workshop is on alternative micro-controllers that are both smaller and larger than the Arduino. The goal is to provide students with alternative form factors, price-points, and functionalities that may be more appropriate to meet the specific needs of their projects. Digispark, Trinket, Teensy, Due, Mega, Feather will each be covered.

IA 262 Raspberry Pi Workshop

Much more powerful than the Arduino, the Raspberry Pi is a physically tiny, full-featured Linux powered computer. Setup, GPIO, networking and interfacing will all be presented. Students will need to purchase their own Raspi.

IA 263 Code Clinic: c#

c# is a general-purpose, object-oriented programming language, used frequently in Unity and web development. This workshop is an introduction to the language and will cover the fundamentals from variables, to methods, to classes with a focus on its application within Unity.

IA 270 Interactive Fiction

Explores the intersection of interactivity and the written word--encompassing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Although many of the works examined in the course contain gameplay mechanics, the course's focus is on the expressive possibilities of interactive storytelling. Students create hypertext narratives using Twine software, but no prior programming experience is assumed.

IA 277 Robotic Arts Introduction

Introduces the arduino (http://www.arduino.cc) micro-controller, sensors, programming and various output devices (lights/sound/motion) as media for art making. Each student creates their own robotic work for presentation at the end of the semester. Studio work is supplemented by lectures/presentations, video, critiques, and readings.

IA 310 The Soundscape

This course provides an introduction to field recording and field recording composition (phonography), acoustic ecology and concepts of deep listening through the exploration of multiple acoustic environments throughout Baltimore City and its surrounding counties. The course takes an anthropological approach and consider how different cultures, urban development and humans have influenced our sonic environment throughout history while considering its positive and negative effects. Topics covered include soundscape theory and history, microphones and recorders, in field techniques and tools for recording sound, working in a variety of locations, basic sound editing and composition, working with Natural VLF (Very-Low-Frequency) phenomena, micro-sound, aural architecture, noise, hydrophones for underwater recording, building contact microphones and acoustic composition. In addition, students also produce a future edition of Framework, a weekly sixty minute international radio program dedicated to field recording and it’s use in composition.

IA 313 Unity3D for Artists

Unity3D is a powerful cross-platform 3D engine and a user-friendly development environment for interactive, time-based projects. This course will be a mix of formal/technical training and experimentation. Students will receive a detailed introduction to creating personal and/or collaborative works with Unity3D using best practices for scene/level/environment design, interaction, basic coding in C#, layers, sound, animation (within Unity), and more. In addition to technical training students will study and discuss the importance of narrativity and meaning within time-based, interactive works. Narrative/experience design and interaction mapping, while not the foci of the class, will be covered. Experimental practices and approaches will be highly encouraged. Version control systems will also be covered to ensure students are prepared to work collaboratively if they choose. A version control system allows users to keep track of changes in software development projects, and enables them to collaborate. Using version control, groups can work together on code and separate their tasks through branches. An external hard drive is required for the course.

IA 317 Virtual Reality for Artists

This course is an introduction to the technology, methods and history of virtual and augmented reality through the lens of art making. Students learn to build virtual worlds, gain an introduction to asset creation and become familiar with the tool sets and workflows needed to make immersive experiences. No previous digital experience required to enroll in this course.

Concurrent enrollment in AN 317 required, totaling 6 credits

IA 325 The Art of Electric Light

Make art with various forms of electric light through learning how to use contemporary forms of electric light/lighting, including LEDs, EL wire (cool neon), lasers and more. Through the process of creating their own projects, students locate their own interests and sensibilities, and develop essential techniques in the medium of contemporary, electric light. In addition, history and context is established through readings and presentations. Final projects are shown publicly at the annual RobotFest in Linthicum.

Prerequisite: IA 277, Permission of Department Chair, or Graduate Standing

IA 332 Advanced Tabletop Games

Tabletop games have never been more popular and there has been a renaissance in their designs over the last 20 years. In this course, students further their understanding of tabletop game design begun in Game/Play by researching and designing a publishable tabletop game over the course of the semester. Students develop their design research, prototyping, play-testing and visual design skills, as well as learn more about the tabletop games industry from guest speakers and lectures.

Prerequisite: IA 225

IA 340 Immersive/Interactive Studio

This course is an integrated studio for students with different perspectives and practices centered around immersion, interactivity and engagement. Both digital (VR/AR, electronics, apps) and analog practitioners (low tech/no tech) are welcome, as are Sound Artists and performers interested in immersion and interactivity. The focus and challenge will be to bridge gaps, create dialog, and devise hybrid methods to produce compelling and critical experiences for both participants and audience members. While technologies for class use will be provided and supported it is highly recommended that class members interested in using technology have had previous experiences working in more technical areas of interaction and immersion so that they may use the class to connect with others and explore experiential issues beyond technical mastery. Each student will make, present, and document two projects throughout the semester in the media of their choosing. Historical, critical and technical content provided via lecture, demo, research and critique.

Prerequisite: 3.00 credits of IA

IA 341 Immersive Experience Lab

Students explore Immersive Experience Design as a practice by creating immersive experiences both individually and collaboratively, in the media of their choice. Students bring experiences to life and document them diagrammatically. The experiments unite design with performance, composition with space, and emotion with ideas. This course is a balance of theory and practice, aiming to understand how the experience designer uses any artistic means necessary to script and create moments of wonder, puzzlement, awe, or reverie.

IA 344 Blockchain and P2P

The center cannot hold. Emerging collaborative P2P systems have gone beyond the era of transactions between peers doing similar things with shared resources, and have begun to permeate the offline world in fascinating ways. Students explore P2P, Blockchain, and Decentralization as technologies and concepts that are inspiring alternative structures, forms and philosophies in many areas of human interaction. By working directly with existing projects, students learn how to conceptualize, prototype and deploy decentralized P2P networks and experiences in a variety of media; not limited to digital materials and/or the Internet. They discover their own implementations in the media/forms/meanings of their choosing. It is intended to provide an entry point for any artist or designer intrigued by the potentials of interactions based on a responsible exchange of value without powerful intermediaries acting as arbiters of power, money, and information. The course may involve some work with cryptocurrencies.

IA 345 Max/Msp/Jitter

A powerful, graphical, multimedia authoring environment for realtime sound and/or video: Max/Msp/Jitter. It is ideal for realtime processing of data, such as serial input (arduino/sensors, game controllers), MIDI messages, sound, video, and system messages, and mapping data from one media to another. Projects are created by interconnecting different icons from a library of objects that represent small snippets of code, Max's graphical interface allows non-programmers to create programs without having to learn or to write code. This course introduces students to the basics of Max's programming interface and teach students to construct their own patches (custom programs created within Max).

Prerequisite: IA 215 or IA 277, or permission of the instructor

IA 351 Digital Fab, Circuits, Craft

This course covers the basics of 2D and 3D design fabrication in the MICA dFab lab. Students learn to work with a variety of 3D printers as well as extended techniques integrating the hand made and the digitally printed to create robotic arts, sound, games and new materials projects, and 3D laser scanning. Ideally suited for students whose practice incorporates electronics/robotics, sculpture, games, and sound, and who wish to complement their skills with advanced and experimental fabrication techniques.

Prerequisite: IA 215 or IA 277, or permission of the instructor

IA 355 Studio Techniques & Recording

This course cover studio recording and editing techniques for in studio and live environments. Students are taught best practices for mixing, monitoring, mastering, microphone design and applications, acoustics, live recording, synchronization, amplifiers, and more.

Prerequisite: IA 202 or IA 230

IA 360 Smart Machines

This is an advanced maker studio with a focus on Artificial Intelligence where students learn to conceptualize, design, prototype and develop personal and/or collaborative code based projects in a variety of media and forms that are programmed to make decisions autonomously from user/environmental interactions. Students are taught fundamentals of AI programming and encouraged to implement projects in the languages, environments and media of their choice; includes lectures, readings, technical demonstrations and critiques tailored to the work developed in class and to support a broad consideration of the techniques, meanings and implications of AI.

Prerequisite: 3.00 credits of IA

IA 370 Robo Vision

This course includes gesture control, facial recognition, object detection/tracking and network/IP cams for students whose practice engages emerging media for either installation, performance, and/or gaming. Students work with the Leap Motion Controller, Kinect 3d Camera, and Web cams in Processing, Unity, and Max/Msp to create personal and/or collaborative projects. Coursework supplemented by presentations on best practices, historical context and critique.

Prerequisite: IA 215 or IA 277, or permission of the instructor

IA 385 Live Electronic Music & Media

This course is designed to provide students an immersive laboratory for experimentation with new modes of sound manipulation in a live performance setting. Course topics include analog subtractive synthesis, tape music, real-time sample editing, looping, MIDI, sequencing, effects processing, DJing, Remix and live performance strategies. Ableton Live is used to complete most class projects. Students also have access to variety of electronic music hardware including a large format modular synthesizer, sequencer, MIDI controllers and other tools. The course traces the history of 20th & 21st century electronic music through lectures, guest artists, readings and documentaries. Creative projects follow the students individual interests, while also contributing to a common live performance event at the end of the semester.

IA 390 Remix as Performance

This course focuses on the use of remixing as an artistic medium. While using audio as the primary medium, the course also focuses on the use of remixing in other media. Creative projects involve sample slicing, video remixing, collage, constructing a DJ set, live remix with a cappella vocals, and free improvisation in a performance setting. Students explore the history and techniques of scratch DJing with turntables, finger drumming with samplers such as the Akai MPC series, and MIDI mapping controllers with software, including Ableton Live and Traktor Pro.

IA 408 Tactical Media

Tactical Media is the political intersection of participation and electronic culture. The premise of this course is that the reality presented to us by institutions is almost entirely false. Students study how media and interactions are used to create false narratives, and learn to develop, test, and implement actions that subvert these mechanisms to glimpse the underlying complexity of contemporary culture. Students create three self-directed or collaborative projects during the semester.

Prerequisite: 3.00 credits of IA

IA 430 Live Immersive Production

This studio course will focus on the creation of a collaborative immersive performance to be presented publicly at the end of the semester. Students will cultivate the skills they need to originate, script, realize and produce live, immersive experiences. They will learn the basics of collaboration, site specific design, narrative development, performance skills, and techniques for interacting with audiences. We will also cover all practical aspects of production, including team coordination, planning, models for project funding, and promotion. The piece we produce together will be shared with an invited audience and documented.

IA 475 Robotic Arts: Adv. Studio

This course focuses on making art objects whose contents and processes include robotics and new/electronic media. Centered around the arduino micro-controller (arduino.cc), sensors, motors, electric light, and interfacing with processing (processing.org) and max/msp/jitter (cycling74.com) will be covered. Studio work supplemented by lectures, self-directed study, presentations, readings and critiques.

Prerequisite: IA 277, Permission of Department Chair, or Graduate Standing

IA 498 Interactive Arts Thesis

Senior Interactive Arts majors only

IA 499 Interactive Arts Thesis II

Interactive Arts majors only