We’re back this week with a quick editorial update before we return to our regularly scheduled content this Wednesday. Along with the changing calendar, we’ve got some changing faces on our staff.
As we enter into a new year, we’re all thinking about how incredibly thankful we are to each and every reader and contributor that has continued to make First Person Scholar the amazing publication that it is. With everything we’re all dealing with and the changes FPS made back in September, it heartens us every day to see the continuing engagement we have with all of you. Now that our holiday break is over, we look forward to sharing more amazing pieces, and hearing from new and familiar faces who wish to publish with us.
The goals of our publication remain the same: we want FPS to be a safe and welcoming space to write about gender, sexuality, and race in games and culture. And while our funding situation hasn’t changed from our editorial back in September, we do have one staff change happening as we move into 2021. Our Commentaries Associate Editor, Alex Chalk, is stepping up to the role of Commentaries Section Head, and Lillian Black will be departing after a brief transition period.
In step with our September editorial, we’ll let our new editor introduce themselves.
Alex Chalk: Commentaries Section Head
Reading my co-editors’ introduction in last Fall’s editorial, a recurrent theme is the question of what “brought” us to game studies. What brought me to game studies was game studies, which is a dumb and faux-pithy thing to say, but here we are: I was coming to the end of a painting degree where the biggest lesson had been that I didn’t have the talent or willpower to be a painter. I was more engrossed in thinking about painting than painting, and I was spending a lot of the time that I could have been painting (or even thinking about painting), playing games, thinking about games, or reading about games. At the end of CEGEP, I’d put together a presentation about artistry in Shadow of the Colossus (Team Ico, 2005) as a capstone project for my degree, and in my first year of art school had taken an elective called “Video Games and/as Literature”, which had gotten me more fired up than just about anything else I did in the following years.
The relationship between games and art had interested me for a while, as I have a fondness for structure and rules and see games putting those elements to work to “do things” the way paintings and movies and music (etc.) “do things”. When I was 15, I spent weeks lovingly EV Training a Flygon named “Dr. Teeth” in Pokemon Pearl (Game Freak, 2007) — an exercise whereby extensive engagement with the rules and numbers that defined Dr. Teeth in the game seemed to make him more real, creating a sense of bonding and attachment to that cluster of code which stays with me today. (I migrated Dr. Teeth to SoulSilver (2010), then Black (2011), then X (2013), and finally Moon (2016), which was the last new Pokemon game I bought.) A big chunk of my presentation on Shadow of the Colossus focused on what it meant to have a button devoted entirely to interacting with your horse. The idea that there was work to be done in capturing, articulating, and unpacking play was thrilling to me, and the experience of doing it turned out to be more creatively satisfying than fumbling with a brush.
Another thing I spent my years in art school focusing on instead of art school was Dungeons & Dragons, and roleplaying games in general. Ever since I first glimpsed it in frames of Foxtrot and that one episode of Dexter’s Lab, I had known vaguely that somewhere out there was a set of dice, books, and graphics, which combined in some kind of alchemy to create other worlds – that there was a set of rules out there that could do everything. This was reinforced by the covers of my first D&D books, the 3.5 edition core set: jeweled and metal-bound things that seemed to be pulled from the very worlds they described. The reality, of course, was a little more complicated, but that sense of possibility and openness to the imagination has stuck with me.
What drew me to FPS was Commentaries, the section for which I now have the honour of assuming the role of Section Head. To me, Commentaries is about that fusion of experience and expression I perceived in D&D, that strangely evocative number-crunching I learned from Dr. Teeth, or the hours I spent in Shadow of the Colossus deliberately avoiding the critical path so I could ride around on my horse and look at things. FPS has long understood that there is artfulness in play, and knowledge in art. I hope I can help our contributors share the richness and uniqueness of their own play, elevating new voices and new configurations of thought and expression.
While this year’s been rough, we have received so much love from our peers, readers, and contributors. Thank you so much for sticking with us. We are thrilled to welcome Alex to the role of section head and look forward to what he brings to our Commentaries section. Ever adapting to our new and changing situation, FPS is always looking out for new contributions, creative venues, and collaborations, so if you have any in mind, please get in touch. FPS is all of ours, we are just steering the ship right now. Of course, in addition to weekly publications, we will continue to have monthly podcasts, and host streams from our team at Twitch.TV/FirstPersonScholar, but keep an eye out as we have a new project or two in the works.