While academia occasionally manages to maintain the veneer of being 'civilized,' academic battles of words can frequently be just as epic as anything occurring outside the Ivory Tower — even when couched in elegant language and well-reasoned points, you can tell people are out to draw blood. So it (sort of) is with Roger Travis, a classics professor who wrote a passionate plea for gamers to "turn the tables on Aarseth and other doyens of game studies" in the Escapist:
When you take or teach courses called, for example, Game Studies 101; when you hold a degree in "new media studies" (wink, wink); when you publish your research in a journal called Game Studies; or when you actually are a professor of game studies, you end up feeling like you know what games do - and what they should do.
That wouldn't be so bad - it's business-as-usual for academics, in fact - if game studies didn't harbor what amounts to a desperate need to lay claim to ownership of game design as well as theory. It turns out that they don't just want to write articles and grant Ph.D.'s - they want to design our games, too.
Well, Ian Bogost — one of those people Travis is referring to — fired back
A considerable portion of my first book and my other writings object to the very idea that game studies stands alone. You cite a three-year-old prolegomenon by Aarseth, one meant as a provocation (something he's known for), and decide to attribute it to all game scholars. You make a "plea to gamers to turn the tables on Aarseth and other doyens of game studies" (myself included). Many (most?) of us already have done work to turn those very tables. Do you actually read any game studies scholarship?
Oh, snap. I consider myself lucky to be in a field that doesn't really suffer from a 'real world' vs. 'academic' split — we have enough drama amongst ourselves. The debate continues in the comment sections of both pieces, and is worth paging through if you have the time.
Quibus Lusoribus Bono? Who is Game Studies Good For? [Escapist] & A Response to Roger Travis [Ian Bogost] [both via GrandTextAuto]