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"Game On: New Graduate Interest Group Promotes Serious Study of Video Games"

Coverage of the Keywords for Video Game Studies graduate interest group/HASTAC Scholars at the University of Washington:

Game on: New graduate interest group promotes serious study of video games

By Peter Kelley
University Week

Can video games be art? Tools for education? Instruments for change?

Ed Chang and Timothy Welsh tend to think so. But more to the point, they say, video games are culturally significant and should be studied in greater depth here at the UW.

That's why they and four others formed a new Graduate Interest Group called Keywords for Video Game Studies. The group seeks to increase academic engagement with video games through a series of campus meetings and workshops this year, culminating in a daylong colloquium in the spring. (Learn more and see a schedule at the group's website.

Welsh and Chang, who are graduate students in the English Department, are joined in the group by Terry Schenold, also from English; and Michael Barthel of communications, Megan Bertelsen of comparative literature and Theresa Horstman of education. They are all gamers as well as academics. The group grew from the Critical Gaming Project, a group of undergraduate and graduate students at the UW that offers online resources for the critical study of digital games and supports scholars working in that area.

"We're too willing to relegate (video games) to the domain of play -- fun, entertainment, a juvenile avocation," said Chang. "That's part of the main problem."

Keywords for Video Games, he said, seeks to encourage "more institutional support for the study of video games across the disciplines," especially given that institutions nationwide now have degree-granting programs in digital media, even in video games themselves.

Chang said in a news release distributed by the group, "Part of the goal of the (group) is to make video game studies more visible on campus, to show that there's already a lot of interest and work in games going on, and to get people to network, collaborate, and keep doing what they do."

The Keywords group has already met with a certain amount of success. It was one of three to receive up to $1,000 in funding from the Simpson Center for the Humanities (the other two were the Asian American Studies Research Collective and the Queer+Public+Pedagogy group). Also, its six members have been named to represent the Simpson Center as this year's HASTAC Scholars. HASTAC -- which stands for the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory -- is an open network of scholars, artists, scientists and social scientists from about 100 institutions dedicated to collaboration across disciplines for creative uses of technology. The recognition brings with it a small fellowship for each of the six.

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1 comment

Good to see grad student groups like this popping up on other campuses... now to see if I can get my own together here at UCSB! Great work, Ed.