The University of Chicago Library will soon make available a collection of videogames in response to “an emerging research interest on campus in game programming, the sociology of games, videogame music, and other areas that touch on videogames, gaming and gamers,” according to the Library’s announcement. Patrick Jagoda, Assistant Professor in English, helped shape the Mansueto Library’s new videogame collection along with the student group Ludic Union for the Investigation of Gaming Interfaces (LUIGI). According to the Library news office, the collection was assembled with “faculty and students working on transmedia, new media, or comparative media studies” in mind.
Jagoda taught an English course in the winter quarter of 2012 called “Critical Videogame Studies” that drew students from departments throughout the University. Jagoda and LUIGI students wrote an introduction to the collection and provided a sampling of games in the collection. In his introduction, Jagoda addresses the question: “Why should a university library add videogames to its holdings?”
In recent years, the humanities and social sciences have started attending increasingly to the historical, technological, and artistic properties of videogames. There are many ongoing debates among scholars and game designers about which properties of digital games derive from other forms, including novels, films, theater, and sports contests. There are discussions about which components of digital games — interactivity, networked communities, hypermediated interfaces, and so on — make them unique. Cultural studies has also raised critical questions about the ways in which race, gender, class, and sexuality are represented (or often go underrepresented or misrepresented) in popular games, as well as the ways in which players negotiate these categories during play. Increasingly, the overarching question of “Why should we study videogames?” is yielding to more refined questions and significant research projects that are shaping a rich field of study.
Read the rest of Jagoda’s story and notes from the LUIGI group on some of the games in the collection here.