I’ve been having weird dreams lately. The other night I woke up from a dream about either a dissertation defence or a question and answer session after giving a colloquium. After I had finished waking up screaming and making sure there weren’t any professors hiding under my bed, I started thinking that so far in my graduate school career I’ve had to explain myself to people who had no experience with videogames. That is pretty crazy. When I get to the point of having to put together a dissertation committee I am going to force them to sit down and play some Counter-Strike.
But more than that, I have to think of how many pages I have had to fill with basic background information about videogames. As I lay there in be trying to fall back asleep, I realized that nothing is more of a testament to the fact that there really is a literacy to videogames than the fact that every time I go to write a paper for a class, I have to spend a few pages explaining what the hell it is that I’m talking about. So it is sort of a meta-commentary on the project that I am trying to make in and of itself. I’m trying to explain that there is a set of skills that one needs to develop to play most videogames and there I am having to give an education to my professors every time I write about it!
Associated with this act of explaining videogames to someone who doesn’t play them is the moral dilemma: do I have to write this crap again, or should I just cut and paste it from another paper? I like to think I have a pretty strict moral code, so I usually end up re-inventing the wheel every time, but hopefully there will come a time when I won’t have to do that.
Finally, since I mentioned a few posts ago that the videogames documentaries are creating a canon for the history of videogames, I am aware of the ways in which my constant rewriting of an explanation of videogames, I am engaging in my own canonization process in that I am canonizing what is a videogames and what people do in relationship to videogames. This, of course, has the risk of creating a narrow definition of videogames, gamers and the like, as well as putting blinders on to other forms of gaming. The moral of the story is that i’m sure I’m not the only one that goes through these dilemmas, and we all need to try to be aware of when we think of or write about videogames, we don’t do so in too rote or narrow a fashion.