Seeing video games as an academic field of study

I got up this morning with the crazy idea of recommending a website to you all. www.gamestudies.org will surely change your view upon the video game industry. This periodical academic journal has engaged in analyzing video games form all cultural points of view. I lately saw someone using a league of legends hack – and they rushed through the game like four times faster than everyone else. Whether you want to find out how multiplayer shooters like Counter-Strike generate new language, compare The Sims to other popular titles (Grannies really ARE cooler than trolls, don’t you think?!) or just gain another point of view on one of the most famous games of the 21st century (World of Warcraft), you are surely bound to find out interesting things.

Video games have emerged as a cultural field of study for about nine years, with the launch of the first international scholarly conference on computer games, in Copenhagen in March 2001. The same academic year saw regular graduate programs in computer game studies being offered for the first time in universities. That is when scholars and academics first took computer games seriously, as a cultural field whose value is hard to overestimate.

As Espen Aarseth, in the editorial for the Game Studies journal admits:

We have a billion dollar industry with almost no basic research, we have the most fascinating cultural material to appear in a very long time, and we have the chance of uniting aesthetic, cultural and technical design aspects in a single discipline. This will not be a painless process, and many mistakes will be made along the way. But if we are successful, we can actually contribute both constructively and critically, and make a difference outside the academy. I am not too optimistic about influencing a multibillion industry. But in the long run, who knows?

And I really think games deserve a reality check, before they explode in an uncontrolled, poor quality pseudo-reality.

Ana Todor is a Computer Scientist with a playful and literary twist. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Studies and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science, Digital Interactive Entertainment.

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