Creative Computing

The Division of Humanities and Fine Arts at UC Santa Barbara is proud to announce a set of summer courses under the Creative Computing Initiative, generously supported by alumnus Ross Dowd (Class of 1994, English and Political Science). The initiative encourages undergraduate students to develop more technical literacy in an increasingly computerized world but also to forge more personal, imaginative, and critical connections to computationally based media and technology. Through this new initiative, students are invited to explore a series of connected courses focused on digital technologies and their contexts.

Scholarships of $1,000 are also available to help offset the unit fees, with the potential for more for those students in need. To apply, please prepare a 300-500 word essay explaining why are you interested in this course, specifically, and/or the Creative Computing Initiative, generally. You may also share any information about pressing financial need, though this is optional. Use your UCSB NetID to log in to the scholarship application portal and upload your essay for consideration. Award decisions will be made on a rolling basis, but no later than May 17 (for Session A) or July 11 (for Session B). Students may also be eligible to receive more than one scholarship when taking more than one Creative Computing course. 

ENGL 146IF Introduction to Interactive Fiction
Instructor: Ryan Leach
Session B

As the cliché goes, interactive fiction (IF), like so many other things these days, exists "at the intersection of art and technology." To this, we might add the intersections of literature and games, language and code, poesis and techne, close reading and computational analysis, passive consumption and active production, making and critiquing. In short, interactive fiction provides the ideal entry point for studying the entanglement of medias old and new, with a low enough technological barrier to entry to ensure near universal technological accessibility. As such, an introduction to interactive fiction course enables learning through making, and vice versa, as students learn to play, produce, and critique within contemporary IF authoring environments. We will start with choice-based Twine and Ink games before moving on to the parser-based Inform, not only critically evaluating already existing games, but also learning how to write both fiction and criticism within these authoring systems. By the end of the class, students will learn several programming languages (Twine, Ink, Inform7), while also discovering new modes of humanistic inquiry in the digital age (multimodal criticism, source code analysis, and other digital humanities methods). No prior programming experience is required. 

FAMST 166EG Experimental Games 
Instructor: Miguel Penabella
Session A

Both a theoretical course that applies critical frameworks to independent and experimental models for video game design, and a practicum to create short works, this course offers students the opportunity to reflect on the labor and artistry of games. Throughout these weeks, students will play and discuss indie games and relevant readings, while also preparing questions for weekly conversations with independent game developers to be held over Zoom. Neither prior programming knowledge nor gaming proficiency is expected or required for this course. This class serves as a practical introduction to game development, as students will develop their technical literacy and familiarity with development tools through engagement with free design programs Twine, Bitsy, and Pico-8. Students will produce a short playable work by the end of the session. Games to be played include Thirty Flights of Loving, Dys4ia, how do you Do It?, mirror lake, Everything is Going to be OK, Three Fourths Home, Aisle, Queers in Love at the End of the World, Novena, Celeste, and many others! Click here to view the course flyer. 

LING 194 Beyond Duolingo: Digital Games for Language Learning
Instructor: Albert Ventayol-Boada
Session B

In this course, students will explore the theory and practice of game-based language learning. The group class will work collaboratively to create a game prototype using Godot, a free and open-source game engine based on Python. Through the class project, students will explore and evaluate the linguistic, pedagogical, and computational aspects that make up the development of digital games for language learning. The course offers humanistic insights into games for education purposes (identify learners' needs and relevant processes to acquire language) as well as the perspective of programming (how computers process language). By the end of the course students will be able to acquire foundational skills in programming while applying knowledge from their majors to different aspects of instructional gaming, such as designing the graphics, crafting the game narrative, or setting up the language tasks. Click here to view the course flyer. 

MAT 80XU (E)Utopian Design Tools (Mediated Worlds: THEMAS Special Topics)
Instructor: Alexis Crawshaw
Session B

What does it mean to "make the world a better place"? How do we enact eutopias (good, possible places) rather than merely imagine utopias (ideal, impossible places)? (E)Utopian Design Tools is a creative-computing and project-based class that operationalizes positive and innovative change. Working with the 3D graphics program Blender and connected platforms, we leverage digital tools as the arm of our imaginations, addressing contemporary problems as creative opportunities. We engage worldmaking, immersive art, and speculative design through the transdisciplinary pedagogical model of THEMAS (STEM+Arts+creative Humanities) to impart a holistic thinking and making toolbox. Additionally, we train a making reflex to problem-solving through iteration and prototyping. Strategies for designing with impact, ingenuity, and empathy are further refined via concepts from cognitive science, user-centered design, engineering ethics, and information aesthetics, among other areas. A selective survey of the literature of utopias also contextualizes this undertaking. In these ways, we empower students to meet challenges holistically, effectively, imaginatively, and compassionately, with a cutting-edge toolkit supercharged with computation. The “real world” is not fixed but music in motion: we are its composers and performers. In this unique, historical moment, how will you create the future? Click here to view a short video about the course, or here to view the course flyer. 

MUS 109CA Introduction to Interactive Audio
Instructors: Kramer Elwell and Raphael Radna
Session B

This is a project-based course taught using Max, a visual programming environment for music and multimedia. Through Max, students will explore the ways personal computing, digital media, and real-time interactivity have changed the way that computer-based composers, producers, and performers practice their crafts and expand artistic boundaries. Supported by a survey of significant projects in the field, students will broaden their own creative practices by investigating issues related to interactive music technology and applying that knowledge in self-directed final projects. Students will reflect on the human-computer relationship, develop a creative practice, and learn concepts in music technology. This course also serves as an introduction to programming, computational thinking, and interface design; as well as software instrument creation, creative applications of feedback processes, and the fundamentals of real-time digital audio and related modalities of interaction. No previous music technology or programming experience is required.