Academics get serious about video games

Some of the new questions in a very young field: How do you judge a game? As you would a novel? Should we think up a whole new vocabulary for evaluating games? What do the social dynamics of online worlds — those massively multiplayer games — tell us about human behavior?

In Copenhagen, Denmark, the IT University has established the Center of Computer Games Research, which just graduated its first Ph.D., Jesper Juul.

Juul appears to be the first person anywhere to ever get his doctorate exclusively in video game studies. His dissertation “Half-Real: Video Games Between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds” seeks to define what video games are, and how academics ought to go about studying them.

“There is an interesting naughtiness in taking something that many people consider unimportant and frivolous and then creating very detailed theory about it,” Juul said. But, he added: “I would say that video games merit much more analysis than novels or movies simply because they are less understood.” —Nick WadhamsAcademics get serious about video games (Mercury News/AP)

It’s not news that academics have been studying computer games, but it is news that the study of computer games is developing into a scholarly field of its own (rather than being situated within existing fields, such as literature, cinema, artificial intelligence, and so forth).

Besides Juul, this article also mentions Janet Murray, Espen Aarseth, Henry Jenkins, and Gonzalo Frasca. It also mentions next month’s Princeton conference on Form, Culture, and Videogame Criticism.