I've really been enjoying GameSetWatch's series called 'The Game Anthropologist,' which (among other things) looks at various gaming communities — this week is a look at one of my favourite blogs, Michael Abbott's The Brainy Gamer. We've looked at Abbott's efforts to create (pretty collectively!) a syllabus for his history of RPGs course, which has inspired a lot of discussion both on his blog and here at Kotaku. The interview goes quite a bit beyond the borders of his blog, and I was particularly interested in his thoughts on games and academia, especially for those of us who cannot really be classed as 'game studies' people:
We also spoke on the difficulties of it being a stable field .... He was comfortable with the term game criticism, but had some reservations. Like the rest of us, he is nervous.
"Narrative games are barely past the infant stage, and critical commentary and analysis about them are even less developed", he warned. "Everyone is still trying to figure out who everyone else is, and in this process communities form themselves. We are on the ground floor of this effort to try to figure out how to talk intelligently about video games - how to analyse them and develop a critical language to discuss them. We're not like other disciplines (I'm not even sure I would call us a discipline yet), because we're all figuring this out together; we don't even have the terms yet".
He told me, "Part of our trepidation about what to call it is that there is already a field called game studies, and some of us aren't comfortable with where that's going or don't feel we quite fit in there ...".
A lot of us are treading (or going to tread) in a relative no man's land — outside our 'home' disciplines, but not at home in game studies. In any case, it's an interesting interview — and the whole series is definitely worth a look. There's some wonderfully thoughtful musings and discussion about gaming, the gaming community, and beyond.