For the Summer School in Utrecht Digital Games and Play, I’ll be giving a very practical workshop on textual analysis. Interested? Let me tell you what I did!

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Methodology in game studies often focus on the unique position and self-reflexive awareness of the scholar as a player. While such discussions are necessary, they tell us little about how the researcher unearthed his or her data, and how a good analysis is construed. The starting point of this workshop will be the article of Mia Consalvo (2006) which addresses the methodological toolkit for game studies. Specifically, this workshop focuses on the art of interpretation. As ludic storytelling, games have advanced in a specific way. Now that we are past the debates on ludology and narratology, we can understand games as textual objects that have these characteristics and more. What should a textual analysis of video games look like? As an example, we read Yotam Haimberg’s close-reading – a comparison between Portal and Bioshock.

Specifically, this workshop addresses the challenges and opportunities of qualitative research on video games. Through short exercises, you will learn about the interpretation of games. In this workshop, you will learn some basic ropes that will help you analyze your cases better and create transparency in your research process. The aims of the workshop are twofold. First, we will dive into the toolkit. You will learn the basic ropes of making a research diary, hear about let’s play videos as a research method, and think through interfaces. Second, we reflect on what it means to do a close-reading of  games and playful situations. Can we learn more from other fields, such as literary studies and cultural studies, and their interpretive rigor and stances?

Through short exercises, you will gain some understanding for game as ‘texts’.

Rather than a lecture or discussion group, this talk will be structured as a workshop that engages the participants with short exercises, playful situations and assignments.

Teaching Materials:

I am going to upload some of my personal files here that might be helpful for the students, but also those who are not attending the workshop.

* Short tutorial for OBS

* Book with creative exercises – I have used some of these to motivate students in their creative writing/BA process in the past and also added new exercises.

* Summerschool.pptx of the workshop

* Example of a research diary (Dutch)

Small case-studies:

Since we have limited time, we’re going to center the activities around mini case-studies. After experimenting with let’s play video methods, we’ll be doing activities. For these exercises, we’ll be looking at small games and representations of gaming.

* Today I Die – a charming and poignant indie game

* Four Players – a Mario fan vid

* The Graveyard – an art game by Tale of Tales

Those that dare may also apply the exercises to Alpaca Runner.

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