The current issue of University of Washington’s alumni magazine Columns is dedicated to all things “gaming” and includes a feature about the Keywords for Video Game Studies graduate interest group and the Critical Gaming Project:
“The Pedagogy of Gaming”
by Mark Cooper
This past fall, the University of Washington became the first institution in the nation to throw its money and support behind a project that focuses specifically on exploring the value of video games and what they tell us about ourselves.
Video games may seem like a strange subject for scholarly research. But the fact is—from a quick hand of Texas Hold ’em on a mobile device to Scrabble on Facebook—Americans everywhere are playing them. The sheer prevalence of video games—whose sales are rapidly outpacing global cinema and music sales, statistics show—is evidence of their growing importance. But what does it mean to play a video game?
To answer this question, a half-dozen Humanities graduate students from the College of Arts and Sciences formed the Keywords for Video Games Studies group. But right away, this group realized that the vocabulary used to talk about play, expression and experience doesn’t satisfactorily describe the unique effects of digital media. So, armed with a grant from the UW’s Simpson Center for the Humanities, the research group decided its first action should be to host a series of workshops to measure old words against a new art form. The workshops are taking on six keyword concepts: play, immersion/interactivity, avatar, power/control, pedagogy and gamer.
“There needs to be a more nuanced and critical approach to thinking about games” beyond demonizing them as corrupting youth, says Edmond Chang, founding member of the Keywords group.
(A special thanks to Mark Cooper for taking the time and showing interest in the Keywords Group/CGP!)