Not So Obvious

I’ve noticed that I’ve recently spent a lot of time writing about race and gender, and not so much time writing about stories, games and communities – particularly games. Considering that games are a major part of what I do from day to day, this seemed worth noticing.

This trend is partly because I’ve had to educate myself about race and gender issues as part of my dissertation work. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and a lot of thinking and encountering a lot of concepts that are shiny and new. Plus, a lot of what I read is Official and Academic in a way that games aren’t, or at least not yet, or at least not without contention. I’m always conscious that, when I go on the academic job market, people will be reading this blog and evaluating me*. It’s easier to make a post that pulls from cognitive psychology, or social psychology, or education research, than one that just talks about what I think about games.

Part of it, though, is less pretty. Games aren’t the most welcoming space for women, which I’m repeatedly reminded of. They’re also not the most welcoming space for academics. The attitude of “most academic books [are] out of touch” isn’t as pervasive as it used to be, thanks to the awesomeness of many folks on both sides of the industry-academia divide (and many who span it!), but it’s still clearly there. It’s stressful for someone like me, because I use game design as a research tool instead of just observing or criticizing games. When it comes to what game designers think of me and my work, I’ve got skin in the game.

Finally, part of me thinks my ideas are really obvious. I know that this is a bad case of the “obvious to you, amazing to others” fallacy, but it isn’t helped by the fact that I spend my days head-down in my dissertation. It’s surprisingly easy to forget that not everyone else is doing the same!

This post is just to say, then, that I’d like to write more about games. I haven’t written much about teaching game design, or running role-playing games, or why I think pleasure is so important. I haven’t written about the impact of Big Five personality traits on common game mechanics, or what I think every game designer should know about motivation, or even what I’m playing from day to day.

It’ll be a challenge to break down my ideas into relatively bite-sized pieces – because if I try to say everything about a topic at once, I might as well write a scholarly article instead of a blog post**. And of course I’ll still be struggling with the issues mentioned above. But I think it’ll be fun to try!

* If you are on my hiring committee, hi! I am awesome. You should definitely hire me.

** I have started several blog posts that became article drafts. Good for my career, bad for my blogging life!

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