America: No Place for Game Theorists?

I was certainly disappointed the other day when my literary theory colleague suggested that a paper on videogames, no matter how theoretically grounded, was not serious scholarship--this coming from someone who's favorite literary figures are Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio--the great popularizers of their day!

I decided to browse about the net and see where the best stuff in videogame theory is coming out, and guess what--it ain't the US. Espen Aarseth, the editor of Game Studies and the world's foremost game theorist, is located in Copenhagen. Just LOOK at this course he is teaching at the IT University of Copenhagen. I think I may be in the wrong country! (Perhaps I could emigrate?)

The site I found most helpful was, a sprawling behemoth of a website that demonstrates the diversity of this particular field of study. As you might well expect, it's a field ripe with new technologies and writing spaces, particularly blogs.

The books mentioned on this site have really got me hooked. I've been dreaming about writing a videogame theory book for quite awhile--particularly the literary theory developed by Aristotle for tragedy, which I think can easily be transposed for analyzing videogames. Unfortunately, I'm too broke to buy all the books I need to really get started, but the more I learn about this field, the less ambivalent I get about joining it.


Yeah, I agree, it does seem that game research is being taken more seriously in parts of Europe. Maybe you should talk to Torill Mortensen and Mia Consalvo--Consalvo is doing game research in the U.S.


She has a great looking website, too. But I think she's an import. :-) That's a great sign--maybe there IS a demand for game theorists in this country. I'm going to email her and see if she can give me some good advice.

Yeah, I was trying to say that Consalvo is doing game research in the U.S. Mortensen is doing it in Norway. :)


First, I would point to some of the more arcane research done in literay studies. Then, I would come up with some of the cultural implications for video game studies. Particularly, you could use as a starting point the texts I reference in this post I made at the beginning of the year.

So, given the point that other disciplines seem to be finding the study of video games important to our culture, shouldn't literay studies help to expand that understanding? Or is literary theory only good for literay theorists?

At least, this is my take. You should go for it. Ten years from now you'll be able to laugh about all the opportunities you have to publish. Won't matter what literary theorists think :)

Pardon my link whoring, but Torill just gave two guest lectures to my students this week -- one on games in the media and one on hypertext theory.

Dennis G. Jerz

Jerz's Literacy Weblog

(Whoops -- I first posted this comment with my own name in the subject line -- sorry, that was just a reflexive action from posting so many comments to MT sites.)

You may already be familiar with Brenda Laurel's work, but if you're interested in an Aristotelian approach to games you'll want to look at her book on Computers as Theater, which has a very thorough and direct translation of Aristotelian dramaturgy into new media - though the book's written before they really started talking about new media, actually.

Yes, I've seen her book (I used in an article on Dragon's Lair.) It's good stuff--thanks for reminding me.