Rhetoric

Based on the research I’ve done so far in this class, I’ve realized perhaps how interdisciplinary Game Studies really is. (I feel like I’ve always known, but my work in here has helped gain more perspective on that). I definitely come to Game Studies as a long time gamer, but also as someone in English Studies, specifically with a focus in Rhetoric and Composition, which I think really shapes how I tend to view games for research. 

I think my background in Rhetoric is specifically one of the reasons I initially disagreed with

My infographic is the 4th picture in Google Images under "Rhet comp game studies" now!
My infographic is the 4th picture in Google Images under “Rhet comp game studies” now!

Jesper Juul’s discussion of narratology vs. ludology and just the overall debate between which one should the be the focus of the researcher. Thinking from a rhetorical standpoint, it seemed like a ridiculous idea to divorce a game from either it’s narrative or it’s game rules. In order to present a message to an audience, it means that looking at both could be useful, sometimes even at the same time. The debate continued into discussions about whether the OoS should be the player or the game–again, my connection to rhetoric makes me ask why would we only focus on one of these things? The game exists to be played, and the player shapes the gameplay experience, sometimes refusing to play by the rules, or by ignoring the narrative. Depending on a scholar’s research questions, it seems that the player, the game or both could be OoS within a research project. 

Composition and Pedagogy

World of Warcraft cover art.
World of Warcraft cover art.

The Colby & Colby article that I read, “A Pedagogy of Play: Integrating Computer Games into the Writing Classroom,” started making me think more about the use of games in the classroom. I think I still have a lot more to read here, to make definite decisions about where I am epistemologically, however, I really did like the article and could see clear uses for games within the writing classroom. It also made me consider that the steps involved in introducing a student to such as vast game like WoW that has a lot of potential as a site for writing, also brings about challenges that I’m not sure would work in a FYC classroom. The amount of time necessary to explain the game and get students used to the game and the larger community, especially one so well established, would likely make it impossible to meet many of the FYC goals and requirements. At least at my previous institution where I taught, students had to write at least 5 papers and I was trying to teach them about rhetoric, thesis statements, etc. There might be potential for gaming elements in an FYC class, but the classroom described in Colby & Colby doesn’t seem like an FYC course. 

The Colby & Colby piece really made me consider the accessibility of games for my students, too. I remember commenting in the PAB that the WoW game and gameplay time subscription would cost about 100 dollars alone, and that’s only if students also had a computer that could play World of Warcraft. I don’t necessarily think this completely negates the potential of the idea or of implementing it, but it leaves me thinking that planning a writing course that includes gaming has to take these things into account carefully. 

My Research Interests

I mentioned at the beginning of the semester that I was interested in Feminist Game Scholarship. My research interests are still in this area and do have a feminist agenda. However, I chose to focus on Game Studies scholarship in general for the course because I felt like I needed more knowledge about the field as a whole that I didn’t feel I had at that point. I still feel I have a lot of reading to do, but I feel I have a firmer grasp on what topics scholars in Game Studies are talking about.

A lot of my research focuses on how women are represented in games and gaming events, as well as how female players negotiate their place within online video games and the larger gaming culture. I also want to start doing more with games and pedagogy, so I’m excited for Dr. Oulette’s course next semester on Games & Pedagogy. One of the current articles I’m working on in Dr. DePew’s class has to do with ethics in researching toxic gamer culture. It’s a response to Mia Consalvo’s call for more feminist game scholarship surrounding toxic gamer culture and the creation of an archive about the harassment of women within the gaming community.

The call and the surrounding discussion in feminist game scholarship clearly calls for ethical treatment in dealing with username information of women that are archiving stories of harassment. However, I started struggling with what to do with the information and usernames of the harassers. When should we also protect their identity? Or should we not?  My discussion with Dr. Moberly brought up issues of how we should deal with artifacts that were posted on public forums or publicly on social media platforms. Dr. Moberly and other scholars think that in the case of these public spaces, it is okay for the researcher to publish the username and/or fully quote the message. I’m still not sure I’m in 100% agreement. While I do agree with Dr. Moberly that people need to be accountable at some point, I also know that the retaliation against people online gets complicated and shady. I don’t want people, even jerks who harass women, to be doxxed and have their personal information distributed online or have threats made against them. So, I’m still trying to decide how to approach this. I’m finding it difficult.

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