Academics Turn to Video Games

Interesting article on Yahoo:

Some of the new questions in a very young field: How do you judge a game? As you would a novel? Should we think up a whole new vocabulary for evaluating games? What do the social dynamics of online worlds -- those massively multiplayer games -- tell us about human behavior?

In Copenhagen, Denmark, the IT University has established the Center of Computer Games Research, which just graduated its first Ph.D., Jesper Juul.

Juul appears to be the first person anywhere to ever get his doctorate exclusively in video game studies. His dissertation 'Half-Real: Video Games Between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds' seeks to define what video games are, and how academics ought to go about studying them.

...and here are some simultaneously interesting and heartbreaking quotes from old coworker Eric Zimmerman and Chris Crawford:

"What we try to do is provide not a single way of looking at games but a whole series of ways," Zimmerman said. "We would like to have an audience that thinks about games as more than boy power fantasies."

Some in the industry, however, are not so sure that games will ever mature. They fear games could be a dead end like comic books -- valuable as a social phenomenon, but outside a select few titles like Art Spiegelman's "Maus," not worth a great deal of individual study.

"I seldom play computer games, because it's such a depressing experience," said Chris Crawford, a game designer who is building a program to create interactive stories. "I end up shaking my head in dismay at how stuck the designers are in a rut."