Inquiry #1: Videogame Studies

The field of videogame studies is rapidly evolving. Several years ago only a handful of scholars, researchers, and designers were thinking about the social, economic, and political meaning of videogames. In only a short time, however, a multitude of approaches have come to the fore, resulting in a lively ongoing conversation about videogames, published in a growing array of academic journals devoted solely to the study of games.

This inquiry assignment gives you a chance to explore the scholarly conversation about videogames, and to look more closely at a single article that you find compelling or engaging. Your first step is to browse through various journals and find that one study you think is worth reading more closely Here are some of the best sources for videogame criticism:

Browse through different issues and volumes of these sources in order to get a sense of the depth and breadth of their coverage, the kinds of issues they tackle and the disciplinary approaches they adopt. You’ll eventually want to hone in on a single article, one that resonates with you and which you find worth reading and worth sharing.

Once you have picked out your primary article, read it carefully and thoroughly. Then prepare a two-page response to the article in which you consider these questions:

  1. What is the context of the journal or publication? Who publishes it? Who is the primary audience?
  2. What particular scholarly conversation or debate is the article intervening in? That is, what previous findings or theories is this article attempting to refute, refine, or broaden? How do you know?
  3. What is the central claim or question of the article?
  4. What’s at stake in the article? Why is the finding important and what are its implications?
  5. What is your response to the article’s argument? Do you find it persuasive, unpersuasive, interesting, uninteresting? What part of the article seems the least convincing and what part makes the strongest case?
  6. What methodological approach does the researcher take? What kind of disciplines does he or she draw from (sociology, psychology, film studies, literary analysis, art history, and so on)? Can you imagine another approach to the same issues and questions?
  7. What questions come to mind as you read the article?
  8. How does the article’s claims give you traction for your own interests? Are there ways to play off, build upon, or refute the argument?

Be sure to include a full citation for the article at the beginning of your paper (including the URL). Inquiry #1 is due in class on Thursday, February 4.

[Note: A list of all the articles students studied for this inquiry is now available]