Good Night, Good Luck

Good Night, Good Luck
Play, Live, Learn

Pat Miller | 17 Jul 2007 08:32
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The same post-modern reaction to objectivity that happened throughout science, literature, politics, philosophy and art extended into the realm of game writing. New Games Journalism turned game writing into storytelling. But telling stories is not the only way to critique the objective voice, and as fascinating as reading about the rock-star lives of game journalists can be, it's simply not for everybody.

So the last eight years have not only brought us game writing as literature, they've also brought us into the academy. The generation that grew up with Nintendo has seen fit to talk about games seriously, not just in forums and blogs but also in more traditional veins of academic discourse, including the formation of a cross-disciplinary journal devoted to Game Studies and a growing bunch of Ludologists devoted to analyzing videogames sociologically. The New Games Journalists opened the door for writers to shed the "objective" voice and write about games from their standpoint; the academics used the opportunity to examine videogames through the lenses of all sorts of critical theories and produce their own knowledge, situated from their own standpoints.


The stories we tell are of the impact games have on our lives. We study the communities we build, the relationships we form, the lessons we learn from games and each other. We study advanced, occasionally esoteric, issues in games, because we can't play a game without learning something from it. All of us are finding new and different ways of expressing the same sentiment: This medium profoundly affects our lives; that our previously disengaged, objective selves are engaged in a dialectic with the games we constantly play.

This kind of work isn't confined to an obscure journal or collection of essays, either. Bonnie Ruberg's "Heroine Sheik" discusses gender and sexuality in videogames; Dennis McCauley's and the team behind all yield new insights into videogames from the perspectives of different academic disciplines.

So, really, are we "there" yet? If "there" is a question of significance, no, we're not. No one's won a Pulitzer for game writing, and despite gaming's cultural impact, it's still not quite vogue, much less respected, as an artistic medium. But if what we want when we ask ourselves where we are is a question of recognition, it seems unclear exactly what we get out of any answer at all. After all, writing without considering what the reaction may be is a foundation of objective writing; why ask someone else if we're cool when we should be saying we're awesome?

"There" is a question not of those who write; the people who live games should write about living games, and the people who simply play them write about playing them, which, is about where are right now. While I have no doubt that game journalism will continue to go into even more amazing places from here, we ought to note that the "here" we're moving from is the "there" we asked for years ago. It's a place where we've begun to play, live and learn.

Pat Miller has been doing this for way too long. Stop by his blog, Token Minorities, for more on race and videogames.

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