“But you already do”, even the most occasional reader of this blog would probably argue.
They would be right.
I do write about games, and as often as possible.
What I have come to think about, however, is, that most of my writing about games is carried out in a somewhat detached manner. I am not so much writing about the specifics of games as I’m writing about games in broader contexts, their potentials for learning, their cultural values and so on.
This is all important stuff, and I am very much a contextually minded person.
Even so, I would never neglect or downplay the importance of identifying, analyzing and understanding the specific parts and characteristics of games.
On the contrary, I relentlessly maintain that understanding games is pivotal regardless of our motivation to approach games in the first place, and that we must thus bridge the gap between the learning-centered “game based learning” and the game-centered “game studies”. It is, after all, the affordances of games that make them games and thereby sets them apart from all other media. My preoccupation with larger contexts has always existed in a dialectic interplay with more specific investigations, yet I haven’t been sufficiently explicit about this.
As an immediate consequence of these deliberations, I’ll start writing more about specific games and/or selected components of games. I guess that what I’m aiming for is some sort of video game criticism. You won’t see me reviewing games, though I may share my feelings about a game. You will, on the other hand, see me writing about anything from narrative, characters and dialogue to game mechanics, interfaces and social dimensions.
There’s a noob in the room
I have written quite a lot by now, yet as a video game critic I am but a novice, an untrained rookie. I will take the plunge, risk complete failure, and hopefully my inexperience will gradually change in the days, weeks, months and years to come. As with anything I do, I consider the process just as important as the end state, and I think of this as yet another learning process closely intertwined with my other activities.
This overlap is important, and I clearly don’t see this as going in an entirely new direction. If you are particularly interested in “games in education”, please don’t see my new efforts as being irrelevant to you. As already stated above, understanding games is central to implementing games in education. This is true no matter how we go about doing that, yet completely inevitable when we intend to strengthen students’ video game literacy. If this connection is not entirely clear, I recommend reading a recent post by the ever-thoughtful “Brainy Gamer”, Michael Abbot. I’ll make no attempt at hiding, that guys like Abbot are outstanding sources of inspiration, always reminding me that the best game critics are already making invaluable contributions to the general understanding of games, and this should not be forgotten in educational perspectives.
As a teaser, here’s the game I’ll write my first post about: