Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Sorry State of Game Studies

Game scholars, we have a problem.

We are very good at explaining, often passionately, why digital games are worthy of serious scholarly attention. But we are so NOT good at organizing venues for lavishing that attention. And our collective failure to demand, create and support serious venues for critical games research is both embarrassing and disappointing.

In September 2007, the international meeting of the Digital Games Research Associaton will be held in Tokyo. The DiGRA meeting is generally viewed as the most significant scholarly conference in the field of game studies. A theme has been announced ("Situated Play"), a call for papers issued, and a word limit set. Full paper submissions are due 3 weeks from today.

And yet. There are no instructions anywhere regarding WHERE to submit papers. There is NO INFORMATION whatsover about what format to submit papers in, or in what style (MLA? ACM? Chicago?)

This sucks.

I am trying to prepare my research for submission, but I am so disheartened. How can the 2007 DiGRA Meeting be taken seriously, when it shows such a lack of respect towards the researchers who want to contribute? How can we adequately prepare serious research when it feels like we are working into a void?

I am disheartened that the most serious, organized opportunities for games research publication increasingly are through organizations like ACM and IEEE-- and they want technical research, or prototypes, or lab-based psychological/physiological research. (So does the game industry.) For the most part, they don't want theory, they don't want work that looks at the aesthetic, social, philosophical, historic, and other critical humanities aspects of games and game culture.

I always thought THAT was what DiGRA was for. And frankly, I have always thought that the DiGRA style research was vastly more important scholarship. Game culture needs to be understood, not just innovated.

I'm not railing specifically against the organizers of this particular DiGRA conference, or against the DiGRA board. We all share responsibility--where is the online outcry demanding more information about the DiGRA conference? I know there are other game studies conferences, but DiGRA is only major organization for games scholars. As a performance studies researcher (that's the field I have my PhD in) I can count on Performance Studies International as an reliable organization and a major venue for presenting new work. DiGRA should be the PSI (or MLA, or SIGCHI, etc.) of game studies.

Scholars, please get mad, make noise, join me in demanding a serious venue with concrete guidelines for DiGRA participation and submission.

UPDATE: They now have a FAQ page for the conference with a template, you can find it here. But the general consensus on the DiGRA member listserv is that the conference and organization is in need of major overhaul. Some of us have been discussing forging a better structure through a DiGRA North America chapter... stay tuned for a better game studies!


GMI Blog Admin said...

You make some good points. I will put my lawyer writing skillz to use and start submitting.


tyfn said...

I was just forwarded a DiGRA games network mailing list thread by Tanya, the President of DiGRA and she has apparently postponed the deadline for papers and panels until March 1st. I hope she gets this out to more mailing lists and updates the website.

----Original Message-----
From: tankrzy@AOL.COM
Sent: Mon, 29 Jan 2007 10.22AM
Subject: Re: [GAMESNETWORK] DiGRA conference and DiGRA matters

As a result of this, on behalf of the executive board of DiGRA, I give official notification that the deadline will be extended until March 1st 2007.


Chris Chasteen said...

Great Point:

There is, what, one print academic journal about the fastest growing and most impactful form of media in history?

Why don't we just start own journal?