I will be a part of a roundtable discussion called “Keywords for Video Game Studies,” presenting with Timothy Welsh (University of Washington) and Alenda Chang (UC Berkeley) at the Eighth Annual Meeting of the Cultural Studies Association, March 18-20, at the University of California-Berkeley.
“Keywords for Video Game Studies”
Given the recent proliferation of video games, playership of video games, art and film inspired by video games, and most recently scholarship on video games, the moment is ripe for interrogating this growing medium, art form, and cultural production and to produce a critical vocabulary for their analysis and discussion. Alexander Galloway in Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture argues that play “is a symbolic action for larger issues in culture” and that video games “render social realities into playable form.” In other words, what might video games reveal about the world we live in, about the culture that produces them, consumes them, and plays them? Moreover, how do we talk about them, write about them, think about them? This roundtable will bring together interdisciplinary perspectives to meditate and articulate the in- and out-of-game richness and complexity of video games, particularly massively multiplayer online (MMOs) games and sandbox games like World of Warcraft, Second Life, Grand Theft Auto, and Bioshock. To relegate video games to the category of pop culture or low art or juvenile pastime can result in the mistaken conclusions that games (unlike other established media) do not reflect, represent, challenge, or critique society, culture, identity, or ideology. This roundtable hopes to bolster the critical engagement with video games and video game culture to address the design of games (as computational, protocological, and rhetorical artifacts), the theorizing of games (looking at narrative, interactivity, race/gender/sexuality), and the pedagogical and political potential of games. Through close readings of games, real-time demonstrations and close playings of games, and discussion, this roundtable hopes to limn central questions, keywords, and even dissonances in video game studies and video game theory.