Against Game Studies

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Against Game Studies

  • Alex Gekker Media Studies, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Abstract:  The article explores the limitations of the current scholarly game studies (GS) field. Its central presuppositions are (1) that there are certain attributes broadly understood as “GS” by those writing in or adjacent to the field; (2) that those attributes are historically rooted in an attempt to disassociate videogames from other types of electronic (and later—digital) media; and that (3) the preconditions that have led to this split are currently moot. In the first section of this article, I elaborate on these presuppositions through reading GS as a historically rooted field, centred around the videogame artefact. Following, by examining the notion of being ‘against’ something in academic work, I move to my central claim for the article: that maintaining this conception of GS is counterproductive to the state of contemporary videogames scholarship and that adopting a post-dualistic and post-humanities stance will greatly contribute to the broadening of the field. I break down this claim into three separate threads. Ontologically, I show that videogames are much closer to non-videogames than they used to be. Methodologically, I point out how re-integrating methodologies from outside the field is crucial to address the complex phenomena evolved in and around gaming. Politically, I highlight the importance of games in contemporary digital culture and show how boundary-work and gatekeeping might harm the attempt to make game scholarship engage with larger political issues. The article concludes with suggestions for a more inclusive and intermingled vision for the field, focusing on the notion of play rather than games.

Keywords:  game studies; methodology; play; post-humanities



© Alex Gekker. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.