Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg July 14, 2021

“How Do We Play this Thing?”: The State of Historical Research on Videogames

Dany Guay-Bélanger

Abstract

Though previously overlooked by academia, scholars from a wide array of fields now consider videogames as a serious subject of inquiry. The emergence of game studies as a standalone discipline has led to the publication of high-quality work on the medium, yet the field of videogame history is still immature. Initial attempts to introduce critical historical analysis of videogames in a field dominated by journalistic accounts were themselves plagued by an overemphasis on videogame canons and on the United States and Japan. In effect, early writings by videogame historians resembled “great man” theory, something one could qualify as “great game” theory. Over the last decade, this situation has started to be redressed and there are now growing efforts to produce solid historical scholarship on videogames. Still, game scholars and game historians need to collaborate, engage in conversation, and develop and adapt proper methods to conduct historical research on videogames in order to write relevant histories of this relatively young medium.


Corresponding author: Dany Guay-Bélanger, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Canada, E-mail:

Published Online: 2021-07-14

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