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Signs, Symbols, Games, and Play

Myers, David

(Loyola University New Orleans) in Games and Culture, Volume 1 Number 1, January 2006 47-51
© 2006 Sage Publications

This article justifies the study of video games with reference to the importance of the study of representations and the study of play.

Keywords: signs; symbols; games; play

Why game studies now?
The most obvious answer is the money involved. So let me deal with that one first. There is no doubt that the current academic interest in games and game studies is driven to a large degree by the commercial success of the video games industry. There was in fact a brief but otherwise similar surge in academic interest in computer games and gaming during the early 1980s—when Atari was in its heyday, Chris Crawford’s Balance of Power received coverage in The NewYork Times Sunday Magazine (Aaron, 1985), and I published my first analyses of computer games (Myers, 1984).
Eventually of course, the video game market went bust and, so the story goes (Kent, 2001), Atari had to bury all those E.T. cartridges in the Mojave Desert. And all the game players then went back to where they had been before: designing, playing, and writing about games in a relatively more obscure and less convivial environment. Now, 20 years later, as the game industry reasserts prices and profit margins, we once again find games and the scholarly study of games popular and increasingly popularized. Regardless however, games have always been interesting and appealing things—and game play equally so. So, given an environment supportive of games and game studies, how do we best make use of it? How does the realization of computer games as successful commercial products transform—even invigorate—their realization as aesthetic objects?

Why game studies now? Why game studies ever?




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