A VERY brief timeline of games scholarship [needs edits!]

Comments and suggested edits welcome. This is super rough.

General Timeline

1940s/1950s Homo Ludens
1950s/1960s war games post-WW2/Korean War
~1970 ISAGA, NASAGA, S&G
1970s New Games Movement and The Games Preserve, alongside rise of hippies and Woodstock culture
1980s “Me” generation kills NGM while their kids play video games and newfangled RPGs
1990s Gen X and later video gamers start going to college
2000s rise of game studies, DiGRA, GLS, G4C, new games journalism, rise of designer board games
2010s collapse of academia, convergence (and diversification) of games scholar fields, gamergate, inclusion and representation in games, gamification and its backlash

I’ve been delving into old articles in Simulation & Gaming on the early history of ISAGA and NASAGA. Below is a good quote from Richard Powers from his retrospective in 2014 shortly before he passed away. He was commenting on Garry Shirts (also RIP) who gave the keynote at NASAGA in 1999 and predicted a bright future for games and education. It hasn’t realllly happened, and I think Powers is correct in guessing that part of the problem is that the newer wave of games scholars (me included) have no idea ISAGA and NASAGA exist.

So while I see the potential of a huge impact on education as a result of recent events in the video gaming community, I am concerned that that community is not familiar with the field of educational gaming. I believe it is time that ISAGA and NASAGA invite people in the video gaming community to attend our conferences. We should reciprocate and attend one of theirs, for instance, the Games for Change Festival.

Anyway, this delving has spurred me to write down a quick timeline, so that’s why this post… 🙂

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  1. Basically that academia is more and more about vocational training and jobs than scholarship these days, that tenure is being gutted, that adjuncts are being hired to offset growing administration costs, and that the US is decidedly anti-intellectual these days… cf. Wisconsin.

    As a result, games scholars have had to find work where they can, often in vocational programs or into fields that aren’t quite home.

  2. I understand that phenomenon generally, but I suppose I don’t see it as being particularly related to games scholarship; jobs are tight for academics generally and adjuncts bear the brunt of this. On the other hand, in the games space, Indiana University and Wilfrid Laurier both started brand new programs out of whole cloth, so I don’t think it’s fair to say games scholars are suffering more than others.

  3. I agree. I never said this affects games scholars more than others. It certainly affects them, though, and I think it’s enough of an effect to include in the timeline. Are IU and Wilfrid Laurier’s programs game studies programs? I thought they were game design programs.

  4. Yes, both are game design programs. From the title of the post, I assumed you were interested in games writ large, not just game studies.
    For what it’s worth, I see more respect for games scholarship locally—likely, as the faculty ages and there are more folks who grew up with video games. It feels like a different atmosphere than when I started doing games work myself, some twleve years ago. I think that’s noteworthy, if others can corroborate from their own institution’s perspectives, and potentially worth adding to the timeline.