Alexandra Orlando is a PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo studying gender and eSports. She was the commentaries editor of FPS for 2015-2016. Her current obsessions are playing Overwatch and otome games and watching Korean Dramas and will try to work them into future FPS podcasts at all costs.
My name is Alexandra, and I’d like to formally introduce myself to all of you as the new Editor-in-Chief of First Person Scholar.
Along with this post comes a new website design that I hope you will all enjoy and find to be more intuitive than our last version of the site. The whole team, led by our web designer Rina Wehbe, has been working hard (in our designated “break month” I might add) to get the site up and running for September, and I thank everyone for this dedication. I’m very excited to take this new position with a new look and a new team to continue to push the boundaries of academic scholarship and games writing.
From the beginning, FPS has sought to make research connections with the industry. We at FPS are constantly asking ourselves: How do we as scholars communicate our research with developers? Co-founder and past editor-in-chief Steve Wilcox set out to solve this problem from the beginnings of FPS and in his continued work on Game Studies 101 and his own game projects both of which break the barrier between scholarship and industry.
Last year as EiC, Emma Vossen expanded the publication’s reach and diversified both the team and the articles we published. Emma’s work has inspired me to assert myself in industries (games and academia) which doesn’t always value graduate student work. She has proven that there isn’t one true path to being an academic and that sticking to what you believe in and fighting for social justice in academia makes people listen and pay attention.
Both Steve and Emma are huge inspirations in my career and life, and it is an honor to be taking over the publication that means so much to us. I’d also like to thank outgoing editors Elise Vist and Judy Ehrentraut, who have put years of hard, unpaid work into the publication. All of our editors go into an FPS position knowing that it will most definitely delay the progress towards their degrees, so I can’t help but continue to thank them and be ever grateful we have staff who go the extra mile.
I would like to take this time to introduce the group of talented scholars working with me this year:
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Phil Miletic former Associate Commentaries Editor is now section head of Book Reviews working with Nicholas Hobin as Associate Editor.
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We are also very fortunate to have Alex Fleck taking on the role of Podcast Producer. Podcasts continue to be a very exciting way we have branched out our content this past year and has given the team a chance to express ourselves in ways that traditional scholarship doesn’t afford. And to be frank, some of our best ideas have come out through discussions we’ve had on podcasts, which tend to capture the kind of smart banter that happens in our office.
My last year as Commentaries Editor exposed me to all sorts of unconventional, experimental games writing, and it was a complete joy to work on every single one of those submissions. Two that come to mind are William Kemp’s “Why Pro Evolution Soccer is my favourite RPG ever” and Chris Lawrence’s comparison of the the Harper government and Mega Man X. I am personally experimenting with alternative scholarship in the form of my academic and professional Twitch stream. My goal this year with FPS is push those boundaries even further and encourage weird research. Not in a “let’s make an essay collage” Dada-esque way, but in a multimedia sort of way. When potential contributors think about where they can submit their creative work or types of pitches that just wouldn’t fit anywhere else, I hope they think of FPS as a place to do that. If you’re up to that challenge and have the resources available to do so, FPS would love to support and publish it!
Recently , we published our first ever video essay, Brandon Beaulieu’s “The Spectres of P.T.”, and I can only hope that we receive more submissions like it. Alternative scholarship, like video essays, professional streams, critical Let’s Plays, and podcasts, allow researchers to connect to audiences that traditional academic publishing cannot reach and quite frankly, not even attempting to do so. New forms of knowledge translation make connecting academics with developers and enthusiasts easier. Our submitters, whether they are games studies scholars, games enthusiasts or members of the games industry are real, living breathing creative people who shouldn’t always be restricted to the confines of a traditional journal article. Think of all the voices we can share without requiring people to study a style guide.
Practicing What We Preach
This past year for FPS has been huge, with a major restructuring of the staff in Fall 2015, the introduction of monthly podcasts, and Emma’s SSHRC Storytellers win, which made FPS known to SSHRC and Canadian academic publishers both. People know about us because we are socially informed, highly educated and we are also loud. It is my job to make sure we keep on shouting because after conference season is over and we go back to our offices with a few extra Twitter followers, we must continue these conversations. We need to keep shouting about underrepresented voices in games writing and exploitative academic publishing models, and we need to back up those conversations by implementing what we know is right in our own work.
We at FPS are backing up these words with actions. I recognize that the FPS model is not yet at a stage where we are a completely distinct from the academic publishing model. This is why this year, I am working hard to put structures in place that will compensate editors and contributors for their work. This is a lot of work but I firmly believe that graduate students need to be compensated for their work plain and simple. Progress is looking good, but I can’t make any promises right now and it might take all year; as you can imagine, working within an academic system that doesn’t always recognize grad students as employees does not allow you the rights and freedoms you should be afforded. Therefore, compensation is an issue that is very important to me and I will work the whole year if I have to to get results.
Achieving gender parity both in our staff and our submissions has been another major challenge, and it will be a continual challenge until games writing and academia becomes a safer space for women and other minorities. This is no easy take but the team will be pushed this year to seek out new writers, new forms of writing and even special guests for our podcast, not the sake of achieving a percentage but to increase the quality of what we publish.
Lastly, I would like to thank all those who have contributed to FPS thus far. No matter how much work we put into the publication, without submissions it would be all for naught. Also, thank you to all of you who read FPS, who follow us on social media, and who spread the word about our content — I hope you continue to read and enjoy FPS and support our writers and other middle-state publications. I will continue to shout and continue to assert the need for us in the world of games writing, and I hope you come along for the ride and shout with us.