As a CS academic getting into games, I am of course concerned with publishing legitimate research and having it recognised by the academic community. Every discipline has its established conferences and journals with their own protocols for publication and standards for what constitutes valid research. As the academic study of games is still relatively new, I have found that we are still trying to find out feet in this area. Games researchers come from a variety of different backgrounds — computer science, critical theory, psychology, education — and the expectations of one group may not be the same as those of another.
This issue came up a number of times in my conversations at the FDG conference last week. It is probably fair to say that FDG is a CS-dominated conference with a selection of game design and game studies papers included. This not only sets the tone of the conference, it also dictates a certain process for peer reviewing of papers which seemed to discomfit some of the game studies attendees. There were calls for a separate reviewing process for this track, based on abstracts only; calls which were met with rumblings about “watering down” from the more scientifically minded attendees.
The fact of the matter is. for the time being games research is not a unified academic discipline. At the end of the day we must each go back to our schools and faculties and convince them that our work in games is “real research”, which means meeting the standards of good publication in whatever our foster discipline might be. Over time this will become less important. We will be our own judges. But until then awkward compromises will need to be made.
That said, I am quite excited by the diversity of research approaches represented in the area of games. One of the most interesting sessions at FDG for me was Magy Seif El-Nasr’s working group meeting Towards Acknowledging the Diversity of Game Research Methodologies which tried to make explicit the different expectations held by different groups. For me, the most exciting part was realising that some unfamiliar forms of research, such as “close readings” of games analysing them as texts, were considered legitimate and valuable. I have been doing such analyses as exercises for my personal interest and understanding and I was delighted to know that there is an audience who would be interested in such things.
My only question now is: what to publish where? What are the different conferences and journals that are available to me? What kind of audience are they directed at? What kind of research do they expect? I am putting together a list of such venues which I shall post here as it becomes more complete. Hoepfully it may serve as a useful service to other academics entering the field.