Monday, November 30, 2009
Introduction: Why Game Theory
In mapping the trajectory of popular media, we can see a clear corollary between theory and practice. Literature, film, even popular music all began to a certain extent as "folk" genres that, once their cultural relevance had been proven lasting, caught the attention of theorists and entered into academic discourse.
Such a cycle is currently underway vis-à-vis computer games. This medium is still erroneously considered to be in its "infancy." (In fact, it is just coming of legal drinking age in some states.) The evolution of a body of theory on computer games is an exciting prospect. As with other media, it promises to broaden and deepen the discourse of the medium (we can start talking about something beyond violence, for example). In addition, if history is any indicator, it will also have a positive influence on the practice of creating games, just as the development of film theory in the sixties and seventies did on film craft. It is ironic that academia, the birthplace of games, has mostly shunned them until recently. It is also quite appropriate that MIT, where the first computer game -- SpaceWar -- was created as an independent hack by computer science Ph.D. students, was one of the first places to embrace game design and game culture as a subject of academic study. Here I will invoke MIT's own Henry Jenkins, who stated in his January 2001 presentation at "Entertainment in the Interactive Age," at the University of Southern California, that the most significant evolutionary leap in the film craft occurred when people started writing about it. click link for more