Blog Post

Introducing: Scholars At Play, a Gaming Podcast

Nintendo classic style game controller icon - black line drawing


There's been a lot of development since my last update, but I'm proud to announce that the podcast is real, has a name, some participants, and a first episode! After much deliberation and consulting with friends and colleagues, we settled on a name that Kyle Romero, one of my esteemed co-hosts and fellow HASTAC Scholar, suggested: Scholars At Play. There were quite a few other names we were mulling over, and though I had my reservations about the "scholar" bit, there was something about the name that really stuck. In the end, I think the important thing about a name is not that it communicate and establish the boundaries of who we are and what we do, but that it distinguishes itself from other names. The meaning of that name isn't hidden inside it, but rather emerges out of the conversations we have and the way we approach our objects.

Far more important than the name was, of course, finding people to work on the podcast with me. In my last post, I posed the question of whether or not the participants should be physically present for the recording or not, and I ended up deciding to seek out graduate students here at Vanderbilt who could record in the same room. After hanging some posters and talking with friends in different disciplines, I eventually got into contact with E. Kyle Romero and Terrell Taylor.

Kyle is a third-year graduate student in the Vanderbilt History Department whose dissertation focuses on how certain refugee groups became "legitimized" through the work of humanitarian agencies in the wake of World War I and the impact of global refugee movements on American politics during the interwar years. Though he's played games his whole life, his current critical interests in games are focused around the way historically-inspired games construct narratives of the past.

Terrell is a second-year graduate student in the Vanderbilt English Department. His primary areas of interest include African American Studies, Critical Theory, and Philosophy, and he's interested in the way that games allow us to empathize with and come to an understanding of embodied experience, both our own and that of others.

After Kyle and Terrell joined, the process of planning the podcast became a collaborative effort. Terrell actually suggested our first theme "Gameplay and Narrative," which we transformed from Clint Hocking's well-known piece on "Ludonarrative Dissonance in Bioshock​."  In addition to reading Hocking's piece and playing Bioshock (2007), we added as our third object Youtuber Errant Signal's video "The Debate that Never Took Place," a retrospective on the whole "gameplay vs. narrative" debate in game studies which gave our conversation some much needed historical context.

If that all sounds interesting and intriguing to anyone, then feel free to check out our first episode on Soundcloud:

Episode 1: Narrative and Gameplay

The description on the soundcloud page has a lot of links, citations, and thanks, but if you've got questions, comments, responses, or feedback, feel free to send us an e-mail at or send us a message on twitter

Until next time!




Wow. Great podcast. Entertaining, interesting, informative. Sounds good, too. It would be really cool if it were broken up in some way - at least markers of some sort to show what topics are discussed when. (You could even mark off spoiler sections this way - although I love the idea of programmatically saying, "There will be spoilers, but we should be beyond the idea that advance knowledge of plot 'spoils' the game"). Awesome work to all three of you. Look forward to the next one.


Thanks Ted! The "markers" idea is a good one, especially since this episode is a bit longer. Something for future episodes. Glad you enjoyed it!