The Keywords for Video Game Studies working group, in collaboration with the Critical Gaming Project at the University of Washington, is supported by the Simpson Center for the Humanities.The Keywords for Video Game Studies graduate interest group’s (GIG) first event of the Spring Quarter is on Thursday, April 4, 1:30-3:30 PM, in Communication 202.  This is our fifth public reading and discussion group of the academic year and will focus on the gaming terms “CLOSE/DISTANT.”

What to Expect

The format for the reading group/workshop is simple: read, play, gather, discuss.  (And share in some refreshments.)  Though our immediate audience is graduate students, our goal is to bring together people from a variety of fields and from all different points in their academic careers who have an interest in video game studies.  The reading group/workshop format allows us to frame the discussion with a handful of short essays, a few key games, and the rest is up to participants to tease out the issues and angles related to the day’s key word.

What to Read

We hope everyone can read and come prepared to discuss the following essays:

If you have a UWNetID, you can find copies of each essay on e-reserve.  If you do not have access to UW e-reserves, please contact us and we’ll work something out.

What to Play

Though we will undoubtedly talk about many different games, we have selected the following games to serve as common points of reference for our discussion. The games marked with an * are playable for free. The other games require some online research on Wikipedia, Youtube, etc.

What to Discuss

Constance Steinkuehler in “Why Game (Culture) Studies Now?” argues, “[F]uture research on games might productively focus on the ‘mangle’ of games as simultaneously both designed object and emergent culture, caught up in broader conversation with other big G Games such as politics, academics, parenting, and contemporary life offline.”  The penultimate Keywords session of the school year focuses on the ‘mangle’ of game studies, game research, and game play.  Mindful of the ludology v. narratology binary, how might we think about a different tension: close v. distant?

  • What does it mean to close read a game?  Close play?  Close read its code?
  • On the other hand, what does it mean to distant read a game?  Collect big data?  Study game communities, cultures, and systems?
  • What are the affordances, limitations, and alliances in qualitative and quantitative studies of gaming and gamers?
  • How might we think about scale in video game studies?  Local versus global?  Part versus whole?
  • Finally, how might we think about “close” and “distant” in terms of player intimacy, identification, and communities?

Feel free to comment on these here or add your own questions.  Either way, come be a part of our discussion Thursday, April 4, 1:30-3:30 in CMU 202.

Edmond Chang
Edmond Y. Chang is a newly arrived Assistant Professor of English at Drew University. His areas of interest include technoculture, gender and sexuality, cultural studies, video games, popular culture, and contemporary American literature. He earned his Ph.D. from University of Washington and his dissertation is entitled “Technoqueer: Re/con/figuring Posthuman Narratives.” He has extensive teaching experience at the university level and won the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award in 2011 and the UW Excellence in Teaching Award in 2009. He has taught classes on re-reading high school novels, science fiction, Harry Potter, technology and identity, even live-action role-playing games. He has published an article “Gaming as Writing, Or, World of Warcraft as World of Wordcraft” in the Fall 2008 Computers & Composition Online Special Issue on “Reading Games” and an article on queering cyberpunk and an article on Alan Turing are in progress. He has a cat named Groosalugg.

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