General Documentation Principles

A lot of students ask why we must compile bibliographies and keep track of citations and make sure they are just so when it can feel like a big hassle. There are several main reasons why academic documentation exists today:

(1) For the humanities especially, citations and documentation of sources used allows a reader to go through the bibliography and trace how the writer came to the conclusion they came to. In this way, it mirrors the scientific method in that the research/experiment methodology is replicable for others to try.

(2) Documentation provides rigor and legitimacy to the research by making it accountable — by making the sources available, others can fact check them to determine whether the logic and methods used to reach the research’s conclusion is sound.

(3) Documentation gives credit where credit is due and prevents a researcher from plagiarizing results from others’ work and passing it off as their own.

Documentation plays an important part modern contemporary research and should be treated with the importance it deserves.

The Ethics of Documentation, Offline and Online

To ensure research documentation and citation is as smooth as possible with the least amount of mistakes, the process should begin at the onset of research. Document sources and record relevant information for future citation as you find it; even if you do not end up using the information or are not sure if the information is relevant, document its relevant information anyway. At the very least, providing which sources you’ve looked at can help inform the reader on the process in which you formulate your argument and conclusions, even if you end up disagreeing with the source or decide it is not relevant for the particular paper you are writing. Plagiarism is easy to commit accidentally, and it should go without saying that the Journal will not tolerate any instances of plagiarism.

Various tried and true methods have been used to keep track of sources one comes across. Regardless of the method, thoroughly documenting sources early in the research will save a lot of headache in the long run. Generally speaking, relevant information includes the author/creator, the title of the source, the medium (such as “online video” or the publication name it appears in), the publisher and publisher information (usually the city in which it was published), the publishing date, and any page or paragraph references. Be as specific as possible in each category.

The ethics of traditional academic research are compounded by the way the Internet has broken down traditional borders between the public and private sphere in everyday life. While it may be obvious to some that certain communications and publications on the Internet are open for the public to read or view, some may disagree personally and feel those communications and publications were made in private.

Good judgment is required by the savvy researcher to determine whether or not a person has made proper consent in making anything on the Internet private. To use a contemporary example, a tweet written by someone on Twitter’s platform may reasonably be considered public, while a direct message made through Twitter’s platform may reasonably be considered private. Tweets responding to other tweets (especially if the tweet starts with @somebodyelse) may be considered private by the Twitter user and should be contacted for its use.

Just like other types of research, proper consent and permission is important in maintaining ethical standards. Proper consent should be written out as a consent form and signed by the person who is contributing research information. Any subject or informant in the research should have clear understanding of how the information or data they provide will be used and who will be able to see it. Safeguarding the privacy of those who participate in research is of the utmost importance. For more information, please consult the University of Washington’s Human Subjects Division.

Citation Format

The Critical Gaming Project Journal will be using a modified format for in-text citations as well as bibliographies and works cited lists. The modifications come primarily in the form of new or modified citation methods for publications commonly used in “New Media” platforms and are only explained in passing or not explained at all in many traditional academic citation formats.

Traditionally, basic information one should record for sources used are:

(1) the author(s)

(2) the title of the work

(3) the publication the work appears in (when applicable)

(4) editor(s) or translator(s) when necessary

(5) the publisher’s information (if self-published or self-distributed, please indicate)

(6) the publishing date

(7) any page or paragraph numbers

(8) the medium used if it is not printed text

(9) if the source is found online, a url. A full url is useful for the researcher in finding the source again for reference; however, due to the ubiquity of Internet search engines and web browser bookmarking, the main url (for example, if the source is found on the Huffington Post, www.huffingtonpost.com) will suffice.

Please visit our Style Guide section for more detailed information.

Creating for the CGP Journal

Submission Process

All submissions should be sent to CGPsubmissions [at] gmail[dot]com. When submitting, please indicate the format the work is in (e.g., ‘main essay’ or ‘infographic’). Please provide the work in a file indicated by the format’s information below attached to the email or a link to the work if it is already hosted somewhere else on the Internet. Within the email’s body text, please provide the submitter’s name, area of study, preferred method for contact, and a short sketch about the author (no more than 100 words).

Journal Tone

“Keep your distance, but don’t look like you’re keeping your distance. I don’t know. Fly casual.”
- Han Solo, The Return of the Jedi

The purpose of the Critical Gaming Project Journal is to provide a platform and forum on which those passionate about games can examine them as objects of inquiry with a critical lens or viewpoint and share their research results. The tone varies in-between the precise, technical usage of academia’s specialized language and the informal, opinion-driven tone of blogs. Individual authors should feel free to allow their own, idiosyncratic voice to come through in their writing but avoid writing in a way that is trivializing of the subject matter or encourages simple, passive consumption. Contributors should focus on stimulating further reflection and thought through their submissions.

Journal Content

Each issue of the Journal will have two basic sections — one (1) main essay and four (4) pieces based on a “Gamic Tetrad” that examines a single game in four different areas: Poetics, Discourse, Epistemology, and Ontology. We are also looking for additional material every issue that involve writing reviews of both books and games, op-eds, interviews, micro-essays (150-300 words each), or multimedia submissions like podcasts, Let’s Plays, infographics, flowcharts, or memes. The basic mission of the Journal is to (1) make the invisible visible and (2) use games to legitimize theory instead of using theory to legitimize games.

Main Essay

For the main essay, an academic tone is preferred, as the essay reflects an extensive research process with a rigorous methodology in order to propose a specific thesis and conclusion.

The main essay is the “cover story” piece of the issue, the lynchpin that holds it all together. This essay is academically rigorous but accessible. The main essay will focus on one game (at most, a series or franchise) and make a deep analysis of the game. This is not just a review which touches on multiple points; it should consist of a controlled, interesting thesis that argues one very specific point on the game well.

The main essay holds the issue together through the game it selects. Each issue will theme the rest of the content on the main essay (e.g., if the main essay is about Silent Hill, then the issue could be about psychology or psychological theories or psychology in popular culture) or the genre of the game (e.g., with Silent Hill, the issue could be about the survival horror genre).

Submission Instructions: Submissions should be in an editable text file (such as .doc, .pages, .odt, etc). For ease of editing, we prefer submissions emailed in a simple text format, as this allows ease in editing the text and formatting it for publication. Any formatting the author wishes to convey should be done in the text file through MultiMarkdown (MMD), a very simple syntax. For a quick, easy tutorial of MMD, please consult the Journal Style Guide.

Gamic Tetrad

We’ve drafted a “Gamic Tetrad” (loosely based off of Marshall McLuhan’s “tetrad of media effects”) that would work as a prompt for four individual pieces. The major unified purpose of the Gamic Tetrad is to “make the invisible visible.” As gamers, we’re used to the same, old discussions about “violence” or “race” or “sex” in games. The purpose of these pieces is to bring insight on something that people often ignore or brush over in their arguments. The Gamic Tetrad is made up of four topics: Poetics, Discourse, Epistemology, and Ontology. The definitions of each are below via the main question(s) the topic asks of the game (and hopefully, the talented scholar-writer such as yourself who answers those questions).

Poetics

    – How does the game communicate its message?

Discourse

    – What does the discussion about the game (in popular culture, the “public,” politics, academy, industry) look like?

Epistemology

    – How does the game teach the player how to operate within the system? Does the game teach the player anything about the larger world encapsulating the game system?

Ontology

    – What basic assumptions about existence, nature, humanity, or life does this game make in order to work?

The Gamic Tetrad pieces also should be academic in tone (a high degree of quality is expected from these pieces) as they, too, reflect a research process with rigorous methodology in order to propose a specific thesis and conclusion. However, the intended purpose of these pieces is to provide an alternate review metric opposed to the oft-employed metric of “Should you buy this game?” Thus, the tone, while academic in nature, should avoid excessively technical jargon or specialized language and speak in a way that is accessible to the general reader (though the Gamic Tetrad pieces should not be a casual read).

The Tetrad will work best if all four pieces are on one single game. Each piece should be written by a different person to get as many perspectives on the game as possible. As a whole (the four pieces put together), it should provide a very thorough and enjoyable commentary on a single game. While we use the terms  Poetics, Discourse, Epistemology, and Ontology, the Gamic Tetrad review-essay does not have to strictly use their academic definitions. Contributors  have enough leeway in interpreting those topics (and put their own individual interpretation to it), but the piece should still relate in some way to the question(s) asked under the topic.

Submission Instructions: Submissions should be in an editable text file (such as .doc, .pages, .odt, etc). For ease of editing, we prefer submissions emailed in a simple text format, as this allows ease in editing the text and formatting it for publication. Any formatting the author wishes to convey should be done in the text file through MultiMarkdown (MMD), a very simple syntax. For a quick, easy tutorial of MMD, please consult the Journal Style Guide.

Reviews

We accept reviews of games or works (such as books, documentaries, etc.) on games. Reviews are opportunities for students to respond to something that  ignited their passion and got them thinking. This is not the traditional industry review where the question answered is “Should I buy this game?” The game review does not even have to “judge” the game as a whole; it can pick one aspect of a game and discuss it critically. “Easy” targets will not usually be considered for publication; we don’t need a review to know that the new Duke Nukem game is terribly sexist. In order to be published, the student will have to go above and beyond to demonstrate something substantial to contribute to the discussion. When reviewing a specific work on games, the same considerations apply for reviews on games. The review should discuss the work critically and provide substantial contribution to the discussion rather than simply making surface observations.

We also accept literature reviews on games and works on games. Literature reviews focus on providing a summary of work done on a specific subject over a period of time. An example literature review could write an overall summary of literature written on the topic of gamification; another example literature review could provide a summary history of the platformer genre within the video game industry. Literature reviews should aim at providing lucid, concise summaries of past work in order to provide a larger context for these works to fit within.

Submission Instructions: Submissions should be in an editable text file (such as .doc, .pages, .odt, etc). For ease of editing, we prefer submissions emailed in a simple text format, as this allows ease in editing the text and formatting it for publication. Any formatting the author wishes to convey should be done in the text file through MultiMarkdown (MMD), a very simple syntax. For a quick, easy tutorial of MMD, please consult the Journal Style Guide.

Micro-Essays

Due to the limited and strict format of the main essay and Gamic Tetrad, the Micro-Essay provides an opportunity for students to contribute work on subjects that they are passionate about right now that might not fit with a future issue’s topic or theme. A micro-essay is limited to 150-300 words and will be published in batches for every issue (when possible). The tight, economical format of 150-300 words forces the writer to focus on the one-two punch and trim any fat to their argument. Micro-essays should make for poignant, hard-hitting essays that can pack quite a bit of punch behind them.

Because of its miniaturized format, the micro-essay does not follow traditional academic rhetoric and tone; writers should allow the full impact of their individual voices to carry through. The micro-essay could be humorous, serious, even polemical; the common thread that holds them together is their compact size and the fact that each micro-essay is well argued.

Submission Instructions: Submissions should be in an editable text file (such as .doc, .pages, .odt, etc). For ease of editing, we prefer submissions emailed in a simple text format, as this allows ease in editing the text and formatting it for publication. Any formatting the author wishes to convey should be done in the text file through MultiMarkdown (MMD), a very simple syntax. For a quick, easy tutorial of MMD, please consult the Journal Style Guide.

Video Essay/Let’s Play

Because of the electronic format of the Journal, we also accept multimedia submissions that critically engage games outside of the traditional medium of written text which the academy overwhelmingly promotes. Video essays are one example of this multimedia possibility. Video essays should be well written, well performed, and provide some kind of critical engagement with a subject on games. There are many great examples of such video essays on the Internet already for potential submitters to examine.

Let’s Play is a subgroup of video essays which has gained immense popularity in recent years. Let’s Play videos records the experience of a player playing through a game. The player also usually provides commentary of some form on the game. Let’s Play videos submitted to the Journal should, like other video essays, engage critically with the game, most likely (but not necessarily) through the commentary provided as the player experiences the game. Because of the nature of many games boasting dozens, if not hundreds, of hours of potential gameplay, Let’s Play videos can be submitted as a series over time. However, Let’s Play videos of smaller, independent games may prove to be a more manageable task for the ambitious but busy student.

Submission Instructions: Students may send the video file for the CGP website to host, or they may use another hosting service (such as YouTube or Vimeo) that allows the CGP to embed the video on a webpage.

Podcasts

Podcast submissions can include interviews with people who do work in games (whether they be educators, industry professionals, academics, etc.) or roundtable discussions among a group of students on a game or topic. There are many examples of thoughtful, engaging podcasts which students could refer to when making their own. Podcasts should be polished and edited; simply recording an hour long conversation about video games is not enough.

Submission Instructions: Students may provide a sound file for the CGP website to host, or they may use another hosting service and allow the CGP to either embed the file in the page or link to it.

Image/Photo Essay

Students may submit a series of images or photos meant to be viewed in a specific sequence to create a specific impact or message. Image/photo essays should engage critically with games and are also encouraged to play with the medium of games itself.

Submission Instructions: Image/photo essays should be submitted in browser-friendly image file formats (such as .jpg, .gif, or .png), and the creator should provide the sequence which the images are intended to be viewed. An artist’s statement no longer than 1000 words in which the creator discusses intent and process should be provided as well. If possible, send the highest quality and largest graphic possible; if resizing is necessary in the editing process, it is better to work with higher quality than lower quality image files.

Infographic/Flowchart

The Journal accepts submissions of infographics or flowcharts, which have gained popularity in recent years on the Internet. Like all other submissions, these graphics should engage with video games in a meaningful, critical way. Infographics and flowcharts could either assemble information in a way to provide insight or context, or they could provide new research done by the student(s) and presented in an alternative format.

Submission Instructions: Any graphics submitted should be in a browser-friendly image file format (such as .jpg, .gif, or .png). An artist’s statement no longer than 1000 words in which the creator discusses intent and process should be provided as well. If possible, send the highest quality and largest graphic possible; if resizing is necessary in the editing process, it is better to work with higher quality than lower quality image files.

Internet Meme/Image Macro

The Journal accepts submissions of Internet memes (the most popular of these come in the form of the image macro). Most Internet memes rely on humor to propagate in the Internet’s media ecosystem, but many memes can provide commentary or critiques on various cultural practices or assumptions. Like inforgraphics/flowcharts, the image macro could assemble information in a way to provide insight, context, or critique, or they could provide new research done by the student(s) and presented in an alternative format.

Submission Instructions: Any graphics submitted should be in a browser-friendly image file format (such as .jpg, .gif, or .png). An artist’s statement no longer than 1000 words in which the creator discusses intent and process should be provided as well. If possible, send the highest quality and largest graphic possible; if resizing is necessary in the editing process, it is better to work with higher quality than lower quality image files.

Appendix — Submission Examples

As the journal collects its own archive and grows, the need for this section will disappear gradually. However, due to the Journal’s unique approach towards game studies, examples from other sources will be necessary. The following are examples that, if not in style or tone, exemplify the spirit of the Journal.

Main Paper Examples:

Because we want to maintain an academic tone in the main paper, most of these examples’ tones would be inappropriate for publication. However, the ideas they explore and the approaches they take exemplify what we’re looking for in this category. Like the examples, the main paper can range from academic analysis (see Golub’s journal article on World of Warcraft) to ethnographic (see Alexander’s article on playing Persona 3 as a girl).

Golub, Alex. “Being in the World (of Warcraft): Raiding, Realism, and Knowledge Production in a Massively Multiplayer Game.” Anthropological Quarterly, Vol 83, No. 1. pp. 17-46 (2010).

Irwin, Jon. “Is There Any Personal Problem that’s ‘Ungameable?’” Kill Screen 11 July 2013.

Chris. “World of Warcraft Is Inherently Queer.” Not Quite Literally. 24 June 2013.

Jaded X. Gamer. “Braid, Life, Obsession, and the Dark Side of Ambition.” 0verhyped. 18 May 2012.

Calvin, James and Lars Doucet. “Story-telling as Problem Solving; Defender’s Quest.” Gamasutra. 2 April 2013.

Alexander, Leigh. “What I Discovered from Gaming like a Girl.” Kotaku. 28 July 2010.

 

Gamic Tetrad Examples:

Poetics –

Kain, Erik. “Storytelling in Dark Souls and Skyrim.” Forbes. 29 March 2012.

Cooper, AJ and Mason Miller. “Story Time Part III Limbo Story Analysis.” Game|Play. 11 April 2013.

Howard, Jeff. “Magick Systems in Theory and Practice.” The Gameshelf.

Discourse –

Bogost, Ian. “Gamification is Bullshit.” 8 August 2011.

Bernstein, Joseph. “Why We Can’t Talk about BioShock Infinite.” Buzzfeed. 15 April 2013.

Epistemology –

The following examples discuss how games teach through gameplay — while the two examples focus on how games can teach players about the greater world in which both player and game exist, it is just as important to look at how games teach players to operate within the game world itself (and these two points are not necessarily disconnected from each other).

Alexander, Leigh. “How can Games Contain and Convey Values?” Gamasutra. 26 April 2013.

Glenn, Patrick. “Playing at Empathy: Ann Anthropy’s Dys4ia.” Game Church. 2 January 2013.

Ontology –

Ontology is, admittedly, difficult to parse out and identify, and is a subject not actively explored by most commentary on games (only emphasizing the importance of exploring it). Sukkau’s ethnographic article on Starseed Pilgrim talks about the basic assumptions he brought to the game (and how Starseed Pilgrim frustrated them), which is an ontological question: “What makes a game fun? Is a ‘fun’ game necessarily a game that is ‘worth it’?”

Sukkau, Steven. “Embracing the Rabbit Hole in Starseed Pilgrim.” Game Church. 22 January 2013.

 

Video Essay/Monologue:

Sarkeesian, Anita. “Damsel in Distress.” Feminist Frequency. YouTube. 7 March 2013.

Floyd, Daniel and James Portnow. “Spec Ops: The Line (Part 2).” Extra Credits, Season 5, Episode 2.

Ragnutta, Mike. “Is Buying Call of Duty a Moral Choice?” Idea Channel. YouTube. 10 April 2013.

 

Roundtable Discussions (Podcast or Written):

Lee, et al. “The Economics of Death Star Planet Destruction.” Overthinking It. 25 April 2012.

Phillips, Whitney and Kate Miltner. The Internet’s Shame Vigilante Army. The Awl. 19 December 2012.

 

This Is Exactly What We Want to Avoid:

If you take Leigh Alexander’s advice to heart and write an article using that advice, you’re gonna have a bad time.

Alexander, Leigh. “How to Launch Your Game Development Career in 2013.” Kotaku.

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