video game

Did you know there was such a thing as videogame criticism? Well, there totally is and it’s surprisingly fascinating even for someone who refuses to play anyone but Toad in Mario Cart and only dabbled into World of Warcraft during an awkward stage. But, videogames are a part of culture, so shouldn’t they be studied critically?

Ian Bogost is one humanist who studies videogames and even wrote a book called How to Talk About Videogames. Also published last year, Carly A. Kocurek produced Coin-Operated Americans: Rebooting Boyhood at the Video Game Arcade and Michael Clune wrote Gamelife, all discussing videogames in extensive detail. An even further form of criticism is Matt Margini’s article “How to Write About Videogames” published on Public Books (a platform I wrote about in my previous post) (I’ve been exploring this site all morning and I’m slightly obsessed because it’s awesome). Read more about this sort of research:

The Difference Between Life and Extinction of Academic Writing

As some critics have pointed out, the academic pool is shrinking. Joshua Rothman argues that “Academic writing is the way it is because it’s a part of a system,” a system in which scholars and professors live in, but did not necessarily make themselves. He claims that this system peaked in the seventies, and has since changed, “making academic work more marginal.” Thus, the audience for academic work is shrinking as well.

Nicholas Kristof argues a similar point, but instead blames the academics themselves for such marginalization, instead of the “system.” While on the the farthest end of the spectrum, Ian Bogost claims that there is marginalization because people do not want centrality, to the extent that “We masticate on culture for the pleasure of praising our own steaming shit.” Thus, there is a wide debate in circulation on the actual cause behind academic marginalization. In this light, one might ask , shouldn’t our efforts be on fixing this marginalization, rather than trying to point blame?

A handful of critics attempt to find possible solutions to the situation. For example, Rothman concludes that only if we make academic writing more expansive can we then fix the problem. Kristof goes along the same lines and urges that professors become more accessible by using blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. Finally, Bogost only offers a handful of metaphors in which multiple interpretations can exist.Therefore, as it turns out, if we want to expand the academic members pool as well as it’s audience, we must expand as Rothman notes; however, one of the most efficient ways in expanding is through the digital world, as Kristof suggests. Professors, academics and scholars need to live in the present and take advantage of the tools they are given in the twenty-first century. This does not mean that we need to completely disregard the traditional methods; however, having both traditional and modern forms can be the difference between life and extinction. If we don’t, it could be the end of academic writing as we know it.

Works Cited:

Bogost, Ian. “The Turtlenecked Hairshirt”

Kristof, Nicholas. “Professors, We Need You!”

Rothman, Joshua. “Why is Academic Writing so Academic?”


Public, Accessible Academics

publishing 3.0

It seems that universities’ humanities programs are being marginalized now more than ever. Well, that’s at least what Ian Bogost argues but, doesn’t find that it’s quite the universities faults. “The problem is not the humanities as a discipline… The problem is its members. We are insufferable. We do not want change. We do not want centrality. We do not want to speak to nor interact with the world” (Bogost). I wonder though, isn’t this why the Digital Humanities became something big and real? By incorporating the digital, professors can allow their work to be shown in public formats.

Nicolas Kristoff says academics are walling themselves off from the rest of the world and pleads to professors to not “cloister yourselves like medieval monks.” So, is not publicizing a choice made by professors? Do they not want to move in the direction of the Digital Humanities? I’m sure the response cannot be answered with simultaneous agreement.

Could academic writing be too academic in a publicized environment?  Joshua Rothmam finds “There are more writers than ever before, writing for more outlets, including on their own blogs, Web sites, and Twitter streams. The pressure on established journalists is to generate traffic.” Since pop-culture media seems to generate the most traffic, maybe academic writing just needs to find a different outlet rather than journals that only the universities library has a subscription to.

I find issue with this need for professors to be more public and accessible than “before.” Academic writing is indeed quite academic and I worry that issues and ideas could be misconstrued if presented on an outlet like say, Twitter. I don’t find that professor’s work should be accessible for “free.” Their research is time consuming, intricate, and involved. Of course, certain aspects of work could be presented on pop-media as a marketing tool but, I find that the benefits of free publicized information to be detrimental and worth less than it should be.

Works Cited

Bogost, Ian. “The Turtlenecked Hairshirt.” Debates in the Digital Humanities. Ed. Matthew Gold. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota Press, 2012. Web.

Kristof, Nicholas. “Professors, We Need You!” The New York Times. 15 Feb. 2014. Web.

Rothman, Joshua. “Why is Academic Writing So Academic?” The New Yorker. 20 Feb. 2014. Web.

*Image courtesy of 3D Issue

Learning Academese: As Difficult as Any Language

Academic writing is notorious for its abstract language, at times creating and feeding a gap between the general public and the specialists. For Nicholas Kristof, “to be a scholar is, often, to be irrelevant” (1). Engaging with a select group in a sometimes cryptic language, academics seem to be isolating themselves from the world at large. Kristof goes on to suggest that academics “know little that is practical about the world” (3), an idea reflected by their sometimes pretentious prose; however, Kristof does not seem to hit the nail on the head. While he criticizes professors for cloistering themselves like monks, I disagree that this is really a central reason humanities departments are becoming more and more marginalized. Systemic issues may be larger than anything Kristof seems to imagine.

Continue reading “Learning Academese: As Difficult as Any Language”

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