Grounding Game Studies

Workshop/symposium at Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, University of Copenhagen.

Confirmed speakers:

Kristine Jørgensen (University of Bergen)

Rikke Toft Nørgaard (University of Århus)

Bernard Perron (University of Montreal)

Espen Aarseth (IT University)

Felix Schröter (University of Hamburg)

Andreas Gregersen (University of Copenhagen)

These days, we do not suffer from a lack of perspectives applicable to the study of video games: formalism, literary theory, media studies, sociology, psychology, economy and philosophy of several schools are all found at game studies conferences and in the requisite journals. Is there a common basis for this plethora of perspectives? Do we need one? The “Ludology vs. narratology” debate was an early take on this, but the particular form of that debate has in later years caused it to be denounced as misguided. One could argue, however, that this question of foundations is always implicit and highly relevant even if seldom explicated. Any given text on video games demonstrates and to some extent champions a particular perspective simply by virtue of doing things a particular way.

These issues have recently been placed squarely on top of the agenda by several scholars and some of the terms have been those of field vs. discipline. The developments within game studies thus seem to mirror developments within media studies where the debate about field and discipline has been active for several decades, but no consensus has been reached there. Maybe we can (momentarily) agree on grounding game studies as a field – or a discipline. But, do we need to put these in the plural form? And what about theories and methods – do they follow from the first or are they to some extent autonomous? Can we reach common ground? And again, do we need to?

This workshop invites speakers to reflect more explicitly on the grounding of game studies in general and their own studies of games. While the nomenclature of field or discipline is optional, speakers may find inspiration here. The general spirit should not be to put down other perspectives but enter into playful and perhaps, if need be, agonistic discourse. But this should not be an exercise in controversy. The main aim is to learn something about our own presuppositions. To paraphrase an early debate, when speakers are thrown a ball, they should not wait around for a story. Rather, we should all pick up that ball and play along with the best of intentions: If a tale or two is spun along the way, so be it.

The workshop is open for everyone, but registration is necessary. If you would like to attend, send an email to Andreas Gregersen (

The workshop is organized as part of the priority research area Cognition and audiovisual media at Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, UCPH.