THE POWER OF PLAY
I've argued in The Future and Its Enemies and related work that the human drive to play is an important spur to economic progress and a model of innovation within rules. As productivity rises in other areas, increasingly play is itself an industry.
On his excellent sports-and-technology blog, Nick Schulz, who helped me research the TFAIE chapter, writes about the "perfect profession," competitive video gaming. And Jesse Walker sends along this A.P. piece on the growing discipline of "ludology."
Ever yearn to study "Tetris" as a metaphor for American consumerism? Or write a paper on narrative structure in the horror action game "Silent Hill"? How about ponder "Grand Theft Auto III," infamous for its violent bent, as an examination of the human condition?
Too bad. Someone already has.
Rejecting the stigma that games are only for kids, researchers around the world are making computer games the subject of serious academic pursuit alongside literature, music and art. They are staking out space in universities--with Ph.D. programs, research centers and online journals.
Game studies (or "ludology," as it's known, from the Latin for "game"), has spawned a new class of academics who devote themselves to analyzing how the wildly popular form of entertainment tells stories--and what it reveals about how we express ourselves....
"If we were 25 years in the history of motion pictures and the only question that was being asked was whether or not they were violent, we would think they were missing some important questions," said Henry Jenkins, a leading game researcher and head of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Comparative Media Studies program.