Video games have been studied for at least 20 years by now, but video games continue to change and turn into something that nobody had anticipated. How can we understand the changing content, values, and contexts of video games?
On March 27th of 2017, game researchers gathered together in Copenhagen to discuss the concurrent and the future of game studies. The topic included game design, history, cognitive science and game pedagogy. There, I had a chance to conduct a 30-min speech about the South Korean game studies and political discourses that surround them.
“The Game That Changed” seminar took place in The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation (KADK), coordinated by influential game researcher Jesper Juul.
South Korean translation of “game” is “gae-im(게임)”, which is a direct loanword from English. The word, however, does not conflate with the traditional games like in the West but instead disconnected from the legacy of traditional values. This unique positioning of the word game, therefore, affects, not only the (public’s) common sense but also, how we conceptualize them in studies and theories as well. With this in mind, my speech covered the “South Korean (boxed) PC game crash” that happened in the late 1990s, referencing my previous researches and artifact-based exhibitions conducted at Nexon Computer Museum (South Korea). The speech briefly walks through several sociocultural and economical incidents that occurred in South Korea during the late-1990s, including Asian Financial Crisis and rise of competitive gaming culture; the direct causes that formed concurrent South Korean gaming culture and discourses.
My discussion went more in-depth in the follow-up 90-min lecture Shacking the frame: “Game” in East Asia & South Korean game studies, which was conducted with the collaboration with IT University of Copenhagen, Center for Computer Games Research. Center for Computer Games Research. There, I’ve explained the terminological differences between word “game” and how East Asian languages (Chinese, Korean and Japanese) interpret them in their own languages, as East Asia do not have traditional linguistic terms that directly correspond to the western definition of ‘game’. Together with South Korean (boxed) PC game crash, I believe this terminological and ontological frame is one of the fundamental aspects that structures the game related discourses in my home country – South Korea.
As such, how the language constructs our subjectivity towards the concept of “game” and frames the local game studies triggers my curiosity most in recent days. I seek to dig deeper into this topic in my future research.
Solip Park is a current NoVA student and a former Researcher & IR Coordinator at Nexon Computer Museum (South Korea). Solip is pursuing her research focusing on game for learning, with the concentration on lifelong learning in digital era and game/computer museum exhibition and pedagogy. You can find more about Solip at: www.parksolip.com