[-empyre-] Welcome to Week 2 on -empyre: GAMES AND REPRESENTATION

Aubrey Anable aubrey.anable at utoronto.ca
Sat Apr 11 02:18:55 AEST 2015

Hello empyre and guests. I’ve been a lurker for a few months, but I would like to join this conversation about games and representation because it directly relates to the kinds of questions I am asking in my research around video games and affect.
Jen Malkowski’s excellent questions: “Do you perceive that the analysis of representation in games (which, of course, has a history) is a somewhat/sometimes maligned pursuit in Video Game Studies right now? If so, what do we make of that resistance?”
My sense of the first issue is that yes, the analysis of representation in game studies is a somewhat maligned pursuit right now. But I would qualify that by saying 1) I think a narrow focus on representation in any media is a limited approach that can be enriched with other types approaches, and 2) That being said, the reasons that game studies tends to malign representation as a critical approach has a particular history that I find problematic for people like myself, and others here, who are interested in analyzing how gender, sexuality, and race operate in games.
What do I make of the resistance to representation? Partly, I think it comes from game scholars needing to push back against the long shadow of “media effects” and the idea that video games are corrupting influences. It’s easier to avoid the hard questions about violence, for example, if you skip over things like narrative and images to focus instead on platforms and code. More significantly, though, I think it is an after effect of the “ludology/narratology debates”, which to me were never so much about narrative per se, but about the status of images and representation in games and what is perceived to constitute the proper object of game studies. Though we’ve thankfully abandoned this argument, it left its mark on the field in an odd separation between approaches that focus on computation and approaches that focus on representation. Recently though, more and more work addresses and redresses this divide.
 A bit about my work: My current book project puts theories of affect in direct conversation with video games. Doing so, I argue, constructs a conceptual bridge between the computational and representational divide in game studies (critical code studies, software studies, platform studies on one side and approaches interested in aesthetics, audiences/users, narrative, etc. on the other) and zeroes in on the contact zones between bodies, platforms, images, and code to redress the atomization of these approaches in game studies.
Looking forward to following this conversation as it develops.


Aubrey Anable
Cinema Studies Institute
University of Toronto
2 Sussex Ave.
Toronto, ON M5S 1J5

(647) 997-0570
aubrey.anable at utoronto.ca

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