The academic field of game studies has entered a new phase of growth and change. New kinds of institutions, events and publications are proliferating. In this article we seek to focus attention on this trend and in doing so help game studies to further develop its global political relevance and responsibilities.
We do this firstly by naming this trend. Names matter, to insiders as well as to external observers, because names shape perception and guide attention. The right name can focus and strengthen that which is named. Recent work on ludic representations of India shows how postcolonial theory can provide some types of regional game studies with a strong theoretical basis.
In other examples, game studies is enriched by the development and employment of concepts from outside the traditional academic centres of Western Europe and North America. We conclude by considering the opportunities and challenges ahead. The kind of game studies just outlined attends to local places and cultures but also, at least to some extent, to how the local connects with higher-order economic, cultural and political structures.
These higher-order structures include the state as well as supra- and trans-national entities such as global markets, trade blocs, ethnolinguistic groups, academic networks and intergovernmental organizations. Space and time might be undergoing compression into a space of flows but are materially underpinned by a space of places. Institutionalized scholarship circulates in the space of flows supported by cheap international travel, internationalization of universities, online journal publication and repositories, and global publication infrastructure, but it also happens in particular places.
We see in regional game studies the potential to inscribe in game studies this progressive sense of place or, to shift into a philosophical vocabulary, to develop an academic field that is sensitive to the complex dynamics between space and place. The conceptual pair of space and place can be traced throughout the history of philosophy.
We will be relying here on the work of Casey who has published extensively on that history throughout his career see Casey , a and b. Broadly speaking, place points towards aspects of human existence that are near, intimate, rooted and limited, whereas space points outwards to the far, abstract and open-ended. This complex transition culminates with modern conceptions of space such as Cartesian res extensa and Newtonian absolute space.
Place is then rediscovered by various philosophical routes from as early as Kant although rediscovery accelerates in the 20th century. First, in a micro-tradition from Kant to Merleau-Ponty with a focus on the role of embodiment. Being in a region as a body gives direction to the world. In contrast to the micro-tradition from Kant to Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger rediscovers place without recourse to the body. These characteristics of the region can be seen in the trend in game studies outlined at the start of this article. This flexibility allows for the clustering of concepts, gaming practices, games and research networks that are national, supranational, transnational or subnational, and the fruitful relationships between regions existing at each of these scales.
It may be objected that this kind of flexibility leads to chaos rather than complexity, however so long as one keeps in mind that regions are always defined for specific purposes, and so long as we know the purpose to which a particular regional specification is being put, the flexibility of scale outweighs the disadvantages of indeterminacy. Chua , for example, discusses East Asia in terms of the production, dissemination and consumption of music and television in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and China.
The local is a perfectly valid spatial register to locate research, and a great deal of the research that we are characterising as regional game studies is local in this sense. Local research projects on gaming cultures in specific internet cafes and development studios become a special issue on gaming in the Asia Pacific; scholars located in particular schools in the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia establish an annual Central and Eastern European regional conference.
By contextualising research in terms of its region this research is highlighted and has a greater chance of influencing game scholarship more generally. While it is possible to use the term in a more nuanced analysis, it does not immediately suggest the tensions and connections between the local and other entities such as: other localities, the nation in which it is located, other nations, subnational and transnational institutions, or supranational organisations. The local has, of course, its own politics, but it is the politics of the everyday as theorised by de Certeau, the Situationists and others.
When we refer to regional game studies we are not simply referring to scholarship that explicitly situates itself in a particular locality. We are referring to the way in which such situatedness intersects with the power-geometries that cut across the local, national, regional and global. This is certainly a part of what is happening in game studies. Chakraborti et al.
A centre-periphery model of power might, however, be wholly appropriate in some cases of regional game studies, as demonstrated by very recent work on ludic representations of India. In the next section we will be discussing critical interventions by Chakraborti and Mukherjee , that represent a kind of regional game studies guided broadly by a centre-periphery model of power and more specifically by postcolonial theory.
Chakraborti, however, quickly chooses sides. From that position, Chakraborti expresses disbelief at the crassness of Indian stereotypes in a number of digital games. His main analytical point is that contemporary digital games set in India repeat a hegemonic, colonial logic established during the times of British rule. The practice of tiger hunting was, for example, adopted by the British colonialists as a means of displaying the power to save Indians from indigenous threats that they could not themselves take care of.
This is game studies in a regional mode where close attention is paid not only to local culture but also to the complex power relations in which both the game and its player are involved. Also Mukherjee , uses a centre-periphery model of power to analyze ludic representations of India.
The European bourgeois novel comes with a pre-existent philosophical apparatus that implicitly questions the representation of history to the extent that any counter-historical move must begin with a reading of the capacities of the novelistic genre itself. Both Chakraborti and Mukherjee align their analyses with postcolonialism and that seems an obvious move indeed for their particular purposes.
In other words: What if the periphery became the centre? Game scholars must therefore exert caution before extending the centre-periphery model to other settings and consider alternative power-geometries. Here, when researching something as contemporary as video games, it might become necessary to explore contemporary theory set at the constantly evolving and sometimes rather bewildering crossroads of postcolonial studies and global studies see Brennan, and Huggan, for introductions.
Not all regional game studies involves an explicit postcolonial stance. One outcome of the regional turn in regional game studies is the integration of new concepts into the field. The introduction of these concepts into game scholarship may be more or less radical: at one end of the scale simply introducing new and perhaps helpful frameworks into game studies discourse, at the other putting into question how we think of fundamental game studies concepts such as play and games. The idea of non-Western epistemologies transforming academic disciplines is not new. Hviding , for example, discusses the relationship between interdisciplinarity and regionality in the context of Pacific Island studies.
His conception of interdisciplinarity, however, goes beyond academia to take in the worldviews of the Pacific Islanders, worldviews that may be in many ways incommensurable with orthodox theories and methods in academia. Attention to the region is obviously central to a field such as Pacific Island studies, but the author claims that traditionally the epistemologies of the Islanders themselves were an object of study rather than formative of disciplinary knowledge.
He sees a radical form of interdisciplinarity changing this relationship, and thinks of this as part of the decolonization of Pacific studies. Hviding describes here how a regional approach might alter how we think about our object of analysis and so change the field itself. The importance of regional concepts can be framed more pragmatically by briefly considering the work that produces the interdisciplinary field of game studies. Some of this work is in a sense external to research itself.
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It consists, for example, of naming schools, setting research agendas at an institutional and national level, hiring personnel and setting systems of promotion. This is what Gieryn would refer to as boundary work. The programmes and announcements issued by such networks provide very direct opportunities to shape the thinking and discourse around regional game studies.
Here centre-periphery models are at play but rather than describing itself as peripheral in general, this example of regional thinking distinguishes between centres of production and centres of scholarship. Despite the nuances we have pointed out, the and calls for participation are both examples of boundary work that strengthens regional game studies. Apart from being constructed through external boundary work, game studies is also constituted internally through the analytical meetings of objects and concepts.
In the following, Bal compares the task of the cultural analyst to that of the travelling anthropologist. Here the interdisciplinary academic field is regarded from the inside of analytical work rather than through the lens of external boundary work:. The essay has since been used by several game scholars to contest the idea of games as separate from everyday life e. O'Donnell, ; Turner, Geertz is clear that he is not revealing something hidden from the Balinese but that his informants are fully aware of the meaning of cockfighting as he describes it in his essay.
This is not to say that the concept can only be found in this regional context. Game studies need not be content, however, with inheriting such concepts from anthropology. A game studies that consciously and rigorously explores regional concepts can itself generate insights that shift how we think of our objects of study. Three examples give an idea of the range of ways in which scholars might employ regional concepts to think through familiar problems in game studies.
Mukherjee compares the avatar as a concept in Hindu philosophy and a concept in game culture. By attending to the characteristics of the avatar in Hindu philosophy--particularly in relation to shared identities and cyclic recurrence--the concept can add nuance to theories of player-character identification such as those of Frasca and Calleja The Hindu concept of the avatar gives us, Mukherjee argues, a way of theorizing the complex forms of identification and becoming that are a central aspect of many digital games.
While not as prevalent as the avatar, the gold farmer is another familiar figure in game scholarship and game research. Liboriussen uses the Chinese concept of shanzhai to approach this familiar type from a new perspective. Often associated with both comical and ingenious Chinese copies of Western consumer electronics, shanzhai is also associated with resistance and independence.
While Japanese racial discourse is related to European and North American conceptualizations of Blackness and Whiteness, it is complicated by a Japanese subjectivity that conceives of itself as both not-Black and not-White. This article has identified significant developments over the last couple of years in game scholarship outside Western Europe and North America. In addition to his ground-breaking intellectual work in logic and analytic philosophy, he involved himself for much of his life in politics.
As early as he spoke out frequently in favour of internationalism and in he ran unsuccessfully for Parliament. Although he stood as an independent, he endorsed the full Liberal platform. He also advocated extending the franchise to women, provided that such a radical political change would be introduced only through constitutionally recognized means Wood , Three years later he published his Anti-Suffragist Anxieties With the outbreak of World War I, Russell became involved in anti-war activities and in he was fined pounds for authoring an anti-war pamphlet.
Because of his conviction, he was dismissed from his post at Trinity College, Cambridge Hardy Two years later, he was convicted a second time, this time for suggesting that American troops might be used to intimidate strikers in Britain Clark , — The result was five months in Brixton Prison as prisoner No. In and Russell ran twice more for Parliament, again unsuccessfully, and together with his second wife, Dora, he founded an experimental school that they operated during the late s and early s Russell and Park The appointment was revoked following a series of protests and a judicial decision which found him morally unfit to teach at the College Dewey and Kallen , Irvine , Weidlich A year later, together with Albert Einstein, he released the Russell-Einstein Manifesto calling for the curtailment of nuclear weapons.
In he became a prime organizer of the first Pugwash Conference, which brought together a large number of scientists concerned about the nuclear issue. He became the founding president of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in and Honorary President of the Committee of in In , Russell was once again imprisoned, this time for a week in connection with anti-nuclear protests.
Beginning in , he began work on a variety of additional issues, including lobbying on behalf of political prisoners under the auspices of the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation. Upon being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in , Russell used his acceptance speech to emphasize themes relating to his social activism. Over the years, Russell has served as the subject of numerous creative works, including T.
For a detailed bibliography of the secondary literature surrounding Russell up to the close of the twentieth century, see Andrew Irvine, Bertrand Russell: Critical Assessments , Vol. For a list of new and forthcoming books relating to Russell, see the Forthcoming Books page at the Bertrand Russell Archives.
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Russell discovered the paradox that bears his name in , while working on his Principles of Mathematics The paradox arises in connection with the set of all sets that are not members of themselves. Such a set, if it exists, will be a member of itself if and only if it is not a member of itself. In his draft of the Principles of Mathematics , Russell summarizes the problem as follows:. The paradox is significant since, using classical logic, all sentences are entailed by a contradiction. Both versions of the theory came under attack: the simple theory for being too weak, the ramified theory for being too strong.
For some, it was important that any proposed solution be comprehensive enough to resolve all known paradoxes at once. For others, it was important that any proposed solution not disallow those parts of classical mathematics that remained consistent, even though they appeared to violate the vicious circle principle.