Game Studies – Who’s Who and What’s What…

If you wander into any newsagent, you’re quite likely to see an area of the magazine shelves devoted to console gaming magazines. These magazines are directed very much at the players – and purchasers – of computer games. One of the aims I have for this “uncourse” is to explore some of the “trade literature” produced within and for the consumption of the games industry itself: the designers, developers, and marketers on the one hand, and the critical theorists and academic ‘game studies’ commentators on the other.

Venn diagram showing overlap of game players, critics and developers

(The above diagram is actually an image that is generated ‘on the fly’ from its URL, which means I can change the image directly by modifying the URL. The URL was created using the Google Graph Builder.)

Just so you can get a feel for how these three areas treat the subject of games quite differently from each other, spend a few minutes browsing the following websites:

Can you tell what audience each site is directed at?!

For me, Game Studies is for the academics (academic papers), Play:Digital for the players (game reviews), and Gamasutra (industry related articles) for the development community. Edge magazine seems to contain something that’s likely to interest members of each community (which is the reason why it’s the only print based games magazine that I subscribe to!).

If you read an article or two at random from each of the above sites, you may notice that, to a certain extent, they have a shared language for talking about games; but you may also notice that each community appears to have it’s own jargon that is all but meaningless to the non-initiated reader.

Over the next few posts, I intend to explore some of the jargon from across each of the interest areas – critics, players and developers. If all goes well, you should then be able to pick up an article from any one of them and stand a good chance of figuring just what, exactly, they’re talking about…

I suppose at this point I should start a wiki where we can begin to build a glossary of terms between us, but it is a holiday weekend after all, and I need to take a break…;-) In the meantime, if there’s any games related jargon or terminology that you’ve come across so far that you don’t really understand, post it as a comment and we can try to figure out what it means together!

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