PixieJenni talks GamerGate with both 'sides'

A Response to the Academic Side of Things

on September 24, 2014
Written by an anonymous respondent whose name I won’t be disclosing.

I’m surprised to see that people seem to think that academics aren’t naturally interested or have links to games. In terms of Game Studies, scholars have been around for about 30 years – it’s a well established discipline now. But we are all gamers or game enthusiasts of some description. Academics don’t spend thousands of hours working on something they don’t like – at doctoral level and above, scholars a choosing an area of speciality that they have a personal interest in. I’ve played since I was a child. There are WoW guilds of scholars, Steam groups, clans and single players and people who just like history games and rpg fanatics and people who love theorycraft and server owners and everything in between. We spend years working on each project – this isn’t a bunch of omnipotent snobs who just happened to look at games one day and think they might be interesting; we know games and count ourselves as players. Rather like all players, we are also varied politically, socially and culturally.

Personally I also think our role in gaming is vital. It was an academic who advised President Obama about the usefulness of games several years ago, and in the UK, there are academics working with the government to help make games that make us fitter and healthier. There are also industry people who have become academics – people like Iain Livingstone (Games Workshop, Eidos, Square Enix), who are now dedicated to getting games taught in schools, or used to help learning. There are a lot of links between the industry and academia – just like there are between the industry and journalism, but these are to support integrity and development. It’s also worth pointing out that none of us are sitting on piles of gold from doing this – in the UK being an academic is a hard, thankless task for most people, and Games Studies still have to fight for respectability because many people still don’t see gaming as an important part of our everyday lives.
A lot of the response to DiGRAs involvement in studying and talking about games seems to think that we have vast amounts of power and are giving each other jobs. It’s very unusual that you get paid for writing a paper – in fact that’s seriously frowned upon (because it is seen as lacking in integrity). Instead papers largely go towards building an academic’s overall portfolio. Sometimes our universities fund us to attend conferences, but I’ve had to pay for every DiGRA conference I’ve attended for the last ten years out of my own pocket. Collaboration does happen, but that also happens in games development and journalism – it’s a natural part of networking and meeting like minded people. Without DiGRA and organisations like it, we wouldn’t be able to network at all; it certainly isn’t wild parties, and the last and most expensive freebie I’ve had at a conference was a memory stick that had all the proceedings on it. Oh, and I was awarded a Viva Pinata mug once, but can’t remember what it was for.

DiGRA is voluntary. It’s run by a group of people who don’t get paid to do it. Secondly, the peer review system is BLIND. That’s how peer review works. And I know it’s blind because I’m involved with it, and have been for years. Several years ago, one of the most prominent academics in the world was turned down for a paper because their abstract wasn’t good enough, and because the peer review was blind. This probably wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been, because we would have seen that xxx had submitted a paper and felt pressured into taking them because of their reputation. But peer review happened and the paper was judged on merit, not by name; causing it to be rejected.

Rather unsurprisingly, at conferences, after giving papers, academics sit down and talk to each other. They share interests, and sometimes that means they then go on to research and write papers together. That’s not nepotism; that’s how networking works.  I have no shame at all in that DiGRA includes papers on diversity and representation, and actively challenges current thought in games. This is called healthy debate. Inclusivity and tolerance, as well as spreading games to a broader spectrum of people are aspects that have been written into the DIGRA UK code of conduct.

I also love some of the comments given to this already that appear to suggest that scientists are ‘okay’, but the humanities have no place in games. Sorry, what were the scientists supposed to be doing again? Putting games in a test tube? Rather like Media Studies, Film Studies and Literature, Game Studies is a Humanities discipline, for the most part.


7 responses to “A Response to the Academic Side of Things

  1. Lets call me Jane says:

    Just funny that you the peer review process is decried and complained about for “slowing us down” in some of your own transcripts. I dont trust “academics” who cant handle peer review.


  2. Roi says:

    DiGRA seems has been founded by people with legitimate COMPETENCE to discuss games. Iv’e not looked into the backgrounds of them, but I imagine they are well educated about the empiricsim around human cognition and other things needed to understand game mechanics. On top of that, you might have liberal arts people who speculate about cultural effects, but that is not the core of what a field studying games should be.

    The real science must have created some form of credibility. Credibility in turn leads to influence.

    Suddenly the head of the organisation becomes gender studies folks, who no one really takes seriously. The excerpt Sargon showed hint to why, as well as what we know about the IQ of poeple going into the field.

    A head of an organisation holds sway on what information is pushed around it’s members, as whell as what is communicated to the press under the DiGRA name. What Sagon is trying to do, is show that that name is not near as credible as it used to be, due to sudden entryist takeover.


    • If you begin with “I’ve not looked into the backgrounds of them…”, I’m going to be distrustful of any points you may.

      For clarity: do you think film studies should also not have liberal arts people in? Because game studies and film studies share many aspects.


      • Roi says:

        Film studies seem like it could be a combination of litterature and visual arts. The foundation of games are neither story nor visual quatities, but interaction. Thus you need different competences.

        But I have to admit a film studies organisation with a majority of gender-studies people is not something I could take seriously, since they strike me as extremely simple-minded.


    • huh says:

      “Film studies seem like it could be a combination of litterature and visual arts. The foundation of games are neither story nor visual quatities, but interaction. Thus you need different competences.”
      That’s why you don’t use film studies. But games are still media. Many of them have stories and characters, even if these aren’t told the same way as in a film. They have ideas and themes just like other media. The players have certain responses to them, and these can be subjective. Interactive media of course have to be analysed in different ways, because they allow interaction. Games are also systems and simulations so they can convey information about how something supposedly works through how the game can be played.
      So it’s not like videogames can be studied like the hard sciences or understood only through, I don’t know, ‘Game Theory’. The players themselves have subjective experiences playing them, and the games can be a reflection of the culture at large and cultural artefacts in themselves.

      I don’t understand why gamergate seems to think just because some academics have studied gender in games it means they are promoting some extremist misandrist agenda. One of these ‘feminists’ taking over DiGRA seems to have spent the last something years studying games as enrichment for Orangutans, is there also some kind of conspiracy that we’re going to have all our games taken away from humans or something?


  3. Your mother says:

    Bullshit. Go away.


  4. Roi says:

    To expand on the word “ideologue”, Sargon seem to referring to people who use their ideology as a shibbolet/”Exosemantic gangsign”. When people do that, they shut down their mind from actual issues and instead focus on who is on what side. A group of “ideologues” in an organization will act to nepotistically promote other ideologues of their same thede, while the people interested in things like reality, comptetence and productivity slowly get displaced.



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