Why Do We Bother To Study Games?

Jesper Juul filled us in when he visited a few weeks ago. He thinks they’re a considerable part of contemporary culture, with 65% of households currently playing.


The average gamer is 30 years old and there are more video game players than non-players in the US. Juul believes that we should worry more about the people who don’t play games, as these people are ignorant of new technologies and seem less curious overall than their peers. I might mention economic limitations, but his point is taken: games are a powerful new media force in popular culture and deserve rigorous study.

But how do we study them? Juul explained how the study of games began in the 80’s with writers who had little personal experience with games simply watching their kids at play and commenting. In the early 90’s, researchers played games themselves and wrote about their experiences. Today, academics watch other people playing and observe the results from an unbiased position.

Culture, society, and personality need to be brought into this schema, however. Game are more than what happens on the screen. They’re having a huge influence on our culture but the ways in which we study them seem to be culture-blind.