Videogame Studies

Andreas J. Pratama


In the year 2000, the field of videogame studies was officially born. About 20 years after the initial boom of videogames in amiga, prior to the rise of floppy disk drives, the cassette disk drives were already powering videogames into personal computers and dedicated consoles such as Atari. The residual energy from the 70s and 80s that electrified technology, synthesizers quickly picked up and showered the arcade with gameplay and fun. Simplistic graphics gave out charms of bleepy-bloopy pixels shimmying the two-dimensional space reminiscing that of Space Invaders (1978). Back then, before the taking off of videogame studies, the issue in which videogames were studied was still based on games and gaming subjects from anthropological perspectives where games were the foundation of human culture.



Studies of games and gaming soon led to meaning making, and educative properties however very little focus was placed on designing experience. Around the 80s – 90s the popularity of boardgames or pen – paper table tops were the rage of the era, this was the source in which videogames borrowed its basic logics and structures transforming itself into what is now known as RPG (role playing games) as a genre. Videogames owed itself a lot to the formative years of this era in terms of its formal properties, where rules, afforded options to the players are given to construct experience and properties. Majority of the games were still involving a lot of imagination where the players are forced to play make-believe of the characters, the narrative and other aspects of the game solely from the abstract dimension. The existence of the boards, the imageries and the character set pieces were considered the only clues or stimuli placing meat onto the bare frames of these formal properties



These meaty stuffs are the things videogame studies are focusing on today. However, videogame studies is not a field limited to studying the rules, today this field has expanded, despite only 20 years in its development, the field has already spread its wings inclusively of other cross-disciplinary approaches and readings. One of which is visual design. The capability of visual design to tell stories are worth tapping into for its deep well of our subconscious gave stories and believable identity to characters otherwise nonexistent in our world. Today the field examines not only the rules and ludology of the game but also the way in which experience are crafted somewhere along the trades of UI – UX in design. The most note worthy field is the semiotics and the aesthetics in relation to how videogames are regarded as a sense-pleasure sensation. The aesthetics will eventually take the game world into the debate of whether videogame is indeed art.