The Methodology Hangover in Video Game Studies or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Just Write

After a summer of designing a new degree program for Trent University (with the help of input from colleagues), I am finally back to finishing up chapter five of Manifest Destiny 2.0. Do you know what that means? I have to start playing L.A. Noire pretty much from the beginning again to get the feel for it. I guess I am a “method” gamer – like method acting, I need to occupy the gaming space and perform within it – that’s really pretentious, my apologies.

I have to start over mainly because the games I write about are incredibly complex. While reading a print text or a film presents its challenges, a video game is a multimodal narrative that incorporates the conventions of print, genre, film, image, and game play. As well, despite the overwhelming number of “how -to” texts on studying games, none really pegs the act of “reading” a game beyond saying something like “gosh, this is really an interdisciplinary act.” If that sounds snotty, I am only fatigued by the sheer number of methodologies on gaming. I mean, seriously, go to Google Books right now and type in “video game criticism.”  You will shit yourself not believe the sheer volume of monographs. Hey, and that’s not even counting the articles and online journals (the latter seem to pop up very other day).  So why the obsession with methodology in video game studies? I think it has everything to do with the complexity of studying video games. There is so much to unpack, sort through, pick apart and map out that you can go mad. I am very glad for a good number of these books, particularly work by Bogost, Murray, and Galloway.

So now I am back at the helm of my own book, which is not about methodology at all, but an intervention into the world of Rockstar. No, I am not writing about GTA anything and when I can get to into the CSS of this blog, I will make my own banner that only features the other franchises, which have had just as much impact on identity politics and cultural understanding as the GTA series. Basically, there is a hell of a lot written about GTA already and while that’s fantastic, Rockstar is a fascinating case study of how the marriage of games and durable genres reinstates and circulates racist, exceptionalist, heteronormative, and neo-colonial worlds.

And now to jump back into 1940s Los Angeles and chase a serial killer….

That’s me, Cole Phelps.

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