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Wednesday, August 16 • 9:00am - 10:00am
Disciplining Games

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Video games are not merely the software that ships; they are also the social and cultural fandom worlds created in their wake. Study of the two in combination – as sociotechnical infrastructures, in academic parlance – shows that games are intellectually demanding. They elicit complex forms of cognition and learning in math, science, literacy, computations reasoning, and other domains we generally value. So why, then, such widespread fear and loathing among the public?

America seems to find video games the ultimate Trojan house for all our social ills. Why? Multiple explanations abound: Fear of the new for a generation of babyboomers who refuse to cede cultural control. Political convenience for policymakers who are more comfortable scapegoating media than they are dealing with the consequences of poverty, insufficient gun control, and instability in the home. Deep anxiety for middle-class moms who suffer their own troubled relationship with leisure and play (and real anxiety about the economic future of their children). An industry that still courts the 1990s “bad boy” image. A uniquely American nasty puritanical streak.
Despite the last two decades of both utopian and dystopian claims – or, perhaps, because of them, – video games have steadily emerged on university campuses across the nation. More than 900 video game design and studies programs have sprouted up on campuses nationwide and eSports is undergoing a meteoric rise as the newest collegiate sport on the national scene.

In this talk, I review and editorialize the disciplining of video games, from the ways video game play connects to academic performances in multiple traditional disciplines to the rebukes interactive media have suffered despite all evidence on either side to the institutionalization of games as both department and college sport. I consider the history of emic and etic conversation about games in America, highlighting the ways in which instrumentalizing video games both reflects and shapes public perception of the medium.

Wednesday August 16, 2017 9:00am - 10:00am EDT
Grand I