Thinking about Video Games: Interviews with the Experts

Thinking about Video Games: Interviews with the Experts

Thinking about Video Games: Interviews with the Experts

Thinking about Video Games: Interviews with the Experts

Synopsis

The growth in popularity and complexity of video games has spurred new interest in how games are developed and in the research and technology behind them. David Heineman brings together some of the most iconic, influential, and interesting voices from across the gaming industry and asks them to weigh in on the past, present, and future of video games. Among them are legendary game designers Nolan Bushnell (Pong) and Eugene Jarvis (Defender), who talk about their history of innovations from the earliest days of the video game industry through to the present; contemporary trailblazers Kellee Santiago (Journey) and Casey Hudson (Mass Effect), who discuss contemporary relationships between those who create games and those who play them; and scholars Ian Bogost (How to Do Things With Videogames) and Edward Castronova (Exodus to the Virtual World), who discuss how to research and write about games in ways that engage a range of audiences. These experts and others offer fascinating perspectives on video games, game studies, gaming culture, and the game industry more broadly.

Excerpt

Video games have some of their earliest roots in the university. Indeed, the first full decade of video game experimentation is bookended on one end by the efforts of pioneering students who hacked multimillion-dollar machinery at schools such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford in the late 1950s and early 1960s to create games like Mouse in the Maze and Spacewar and, on the other end, with work by people such as Don Rawitsch, who created Oregon Trail in 1971 at Carleton College and Bill Pitts and Hugh Tuck, who created the first coin-op game (Galaxy Game) at Stanford that same year. The origin of a modern-day technology industry, such as the video game industry, in student projects and university research labs is a common narrative of the twentieth century. It is one that informs the recent advocacy for increased funding for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in the United States, advocacy that suggests there are economic imperatives for investing in the kinds of invention and innovation found in engineering, computer science, math, physics, and other technology-driven areas of the academy. In this story, video games are regularly presented as an example par excellence of how twentieth-century university research might lead to profitability in industry and increased economic power globally for the state.

And though the video game industry has always had a foothold in academia (and vice versa), it is only for the past decade or so that there has been considerable and rapid growth in the nebulous field of “game studies,” an area of research that brings together researchers from a wide variety of fields in the sciences, humanities, and arts to address video . . .

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