Global gaming networks are heterogenous collectives of localized practices, not unified commercial products. Shifting the analysis of digital games to local specificities that build and perform the global and general, Gaming Rhythms employs ethnographic work conducted in Venezuela and Australia to account for the material experiences of actual game players.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

On The Trials and Tribulations of Studying Computer Games

Here are a list of incidents that I (now) find amusing. They're all about the kinds of problems that I assume everyone studying computer games encounters. I was lucky that when I began to study computer games I was working with two very sympathetic academics in the School of Communications at the Univerisity of Otago: Dr Vijay Devadas and Dr Jo T. Smith (Dr Smith has shifted to the University of Auckland now). After that I worked with a couple of guys at the Australian National University: Dr Paul Turnbull and Chris Blackall, they were very supportive of developing computer gaming as an area of research. So what I'm trying to say is I kind of had a sheltered life, so I'm imagining other could have had much worse experiences.

(1) Mark Wolf's new book had arrive in the university library and I was the first to take it out, I excitedly showed it to my (then) supervisor (it was the first book that the library had solely on computer games). He asked me how the book was relevant to my studies? I looked at the book, did I have the right book in my hand? Yes, I turned to him quizzically. He explained its about Video games, I though your dissertation was on computer games.

(2) Recieving Markers feedback for my honours project. I discovered that I should have referred to Poole more. Which was interesting as my dissertation was on Civilization, and Poole describes strategy games for half a page, and writes them off as Tamaguchi's (which makes him as smart as Zizec right?).

(3) Complaining about how shitting my office computer was to a member of my departmnet, who looked at me disapprovingly and said I wrote my PhD on one of a similar quality and it was fine. His dissertation was on print media!!!!

(4) Being told at a conference presentation that players could not identify with third person avatars: to paraphrase this woman claimed that during my presentation of a video-tape of BMX XXX she had not been able to identify with the avatars 'deriere'. When I tried to explain about how identification worked with third person in games I was told that it was impossible, that narrative theory could not allow third person to be used in that way.

(5) Having middle aged academics thank you for helping them understand their children after presenting a paper on computer game fan culture (not really a problam but still pretty funny, after all I'm not Oprah).

If you have any other similar experiences you wish to add, post a comment or email me and I can add them.


Christy said...

Although not computer games strictly, I've had troubles with a not-so-understood area of 'cross media storytelling'. For my 4th year creative work -- which was a story told over print and web (not one after another but parallel) -- I had the assessor comments saying that it 'takes considerable risks in terms of structure and may well be more effective in its interactive digital form where chronology and linearity have less of a role to play...'. In a story that is meant to have the plot followed a-cross media and with no hypertext involved it seemed funny to have the work considered a draft for a hypertext fiction.

Tom said...

Sounds like the same situation. What bothers me now that I am reconsidering my post in light of your comment is that in most cases thesse people were like in age roughly my contemporaries. It seems like older people either shut up because they know they know nothing about it, or have a greater willingness to accept that I could be right (or I'm helping them understand their own children!)

About Me

This blog started as a PhD blog, for my project 'Global Rhythms: Video games and the Transformation of Play'. It finally become a book. This is a "historic" record of the trials a tribulations.