hc1: Krzywinska et al., “hardcore: introduction”

Hardcore: What is it?

It is with pleasure that we introduce a new feature to the DiGRA website. Hardcore provides a forum within which academics are invited to debate what constitutes as central to digital games research. A regular column written by academics, drawn from across the range of disciplines and at different stages of their careers, focuses on what they believe is core to digital games research. ‘Core’ might be regarded in terms of theory, concept, methodology, issue or theme. Readers are invited to post responses to those views, facilitating further discussion. The primary aim of Hardcore is to provide an easily accessible space within which theoretical and conceptual ideas can be explored, exchanged, tested out and debated.

The diversity of interests in the emergent field of digital games research is perhaps its primary strength. Academics working on games are likely to be working in arts, social science, design, computing or electrical engineering departments. From an institutional perspective, this suggests that there is no fixed core component to digital games research. Certain approaches to digital games have, however, sought to formulate a core by focusing in on the media-specific particularities of digital games – interactivity or play for example. Yet as critics have noted games are not just simply games, they are embedded in a range of contexts and relate intertextually to other media. The notion of a core approach to digital games research could therefore be regarded as something of a limitation, yet core might not necessarily mean a centralised approach to digital games research. A range of issues and concepts have, however, emerged as core: violence and remediation to name but two. It is to be expected that what is considered core to digital games research will shift as new concepts are developed and as the industry itself changes in response to market pressures and the new ideas of the forthcoming generations of trained game designers.

Academic interest in digital games continues to grow apace and there is now a growing body of published work that is cumulatively defining primary issues and moulding the contours of digital games research. What is remarkable, and exhilarating, about this burgeoning field of inquiry is that it includes academics from a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds, each using different methodologies and coming to the subject with diverse interests and concerns. While digital games research comes broadly into focus on technical aspects, form and design, and the socio-cultural aspects of games, each of these areas are approached using an extensive range of methodologies, theoretical and conceptual frameworks. With so many differently framed perspectives and investments it is inevitable that what constitutes as core to the academic study of digital games is subject to, sometimes heated, dispute. Hardcore is designed to provide an informal context for dialogue, allowing academics from across the geographic and disciplinary globe to share insights and question propositions.

Tanya Krzywinska (Main),
Frans Mäyrä,
Patrick Crogan

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