Bjarke Liboriussen, Paul Martin, University of Nottingham Ningbo China
Based on our participation in setting up the Chinese DIGRA network, this paper examines the concept of the regional and the potential of regional game studies to disrupt established ways of thinking and doing game studies.
We first identify contemporary game studies as an interdisciplinary—as opposed to a multidisciplinary or transdisciplinary—field. The constitution of the field is critically examined through attention to two kinds of work: the external “boundary work” (Gieryn 1983) that goes on to maintain the field and the internal meetings of concepts and objects within the field that result in cultural analysis (Bal 2002). Roughly since 2007, boundary work in the shape of conferences, publishing and networking initiatives within the interdisciplinary fields of game studies has constituted a shift in attention away from “international”—that is, American, European and Japanese—centres and towards “regions” such as East Asia. The move towards regionalization includes rejections of formalist aspects of early (circa 2000) game studies and a tendency to prioritize social and cultural aspects of gaming over the expressive potential of individual games.
Critical and close attention to individual games is, however, a crucial part of the work that continuously renews and challenges the field’s shared repertoire of concepts. Regional game studies has the disruptive potential not only to bring new and “exotic” objects to the attention of game studies but also to develop new concepts and alter existing ones. By doing so, regional game studies can remind “international” game studies that Western centres are regions too, although particularly influential regions.
Bal, M. (2002). Travelling Concepts in the Humanities: A Rough Guide. Toronto:
University of Toronto Press.
Gieryn, T. F. (1983). Boundary-Work and the Demarcation of Science from Non- Science: Strains and Interests in Professional Ideologies of Scientists. American Sociological Review, 48(6), 781-795.
Bjarke Liboriussen, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in Digital and Creative Media at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China. His research focuses on computer games and the creative industries in China.
Paul Martin is an Assistant Professor in Digital Media and Communications at University of Nottingham Ningbo China. His PhD was on space and place as means of expression in digital games and his current research focuses on textual analysis, expression in games, and the phenomenology of digital game play.