One Year

My 365 Days Playing FPS

Editorial - One Year

Previous editorials at First Person Scholar have correctly discussed the important position held by middle-state publishing. I’m inclined, however, to talk a bit more personally about my relationship with FPS. The benefits I’ve had from my involvement are likely also felt by some other scholars involved in similar (and awesomely dissimilar) projects, but at heart this writing is in no way aimed at objective claims that can be assigned to every middle-state-publisher – this is just about the one I think of as partially mine. Continue Reading

Game Studies

From Colonization to Columbian Exchange

Representation of Alberti's window (perspective drawn using a front picture plane). Engraving (modified) from G. B. Vignola, La due regole della prospettiva practica, 1611.

As a film studies professor holding both an M.A. and Ph.D. in film studies, I spend my days telling people around me that games are not only “not a form of cinema”, but also that cinema is not a viable lens to discuss the visual nature of video games. This is rather strange, considering the department where I work is neatly divided into two relatively independent sections: art history on one side, and film studies on the other. Game studies have been, thanks to my colleague and former mentor Bernard Perron, present at the Department for over ten years now, but resolutely as part of the film studies section. With my colleague Carl Therrien, we now have 3 professors specialized in game studies, around 20 students doing M.A. and Ph.D. work on video games, an undergraduate Minor degree in game studies averaging 50 students a year, an official M.A. option in video game studies, and a game lab dedicated to historical preservation with more than 60 consoles and 2000 games. This suggests that it may only be a matter of time before our dual-headed department turns into a three-headed Gleeok. Continue Reading

Useful, Joyful, Willful

Thinking About Types of Play

Essay - UsefulJoyfulWillful

In this paper I outline three perspectives that emphasize different characters of play: useful; joyful; and willful play. I further argue that designing for willfulness (e.g. rule-bending) will allow players to become game-changers rather than being played.

Generally speaking, computer games have created new arenas for play in several senses. Massive multiplayer online games have spurred, amongst other things, particular forms of social interaction and behavior; mobile and casual gaming has generated new breeds of gamers; the fundamentally code-based underpinnings of computer games make hacks and modifications possible; and grand ambitions of gamification, supported by digitization, even aims to turn ‘anything and everything’ into a race for points and badges. Instead of clearly situating itself within one particular practice, this paper will take an overarching perspective on play. It will go on to propose three perspectives that, in the light of processes such as the increasing specialization, quantification and rationalization of play(Pargman & Svensson), emphasize different characters of play. Continue Reading