Welcome to the first issue of the first academic, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to computer game studies. This is a noteworthy occasion, and perhaps the most remarkable aspect is that such a journal has not been started before. As we know, there have been computer games for almost as long as there have been computers: SpaceWar, arguably the first modern game, turns forty this year, and commercially the genre has existed for three decades. So why not something like this before?
2001 can be seen as the Year One of Computer Game Studies as an emerging, viable, international, academic field. This year has seen the first international scholarly conference on computer games, in Copenhagen in March, and several others will follow. 01-02 may also be the academic year when regular graduate programs in computer game studies are offered for the first time in universities. And it might be the first time scholars and academics take computer games seriously, as a cultural field whose value is hard to overestimate.
To some of us, computer games are already a phenomenon of greater cultural importance than, say movies, or perhaps even sports. Seen from 2001, the potential cultural role(s) of computer games in the future is practically unfathomable. It seems clear that these games, especially multi-player games, combine the aesthetic and the social in a way the old mass media, such as theatre, movies, TV shows and novels never could. The old mass media created mass audiences, who shared values and sustained markets, but the mass media communities remained imagined (in Benedict Anderson’s sense), with little or no direct communication between participants. Clearly, multi-player games are not like that. In games like MUD1, Ultima online, or Quake Arena, the aesthetic and the social are integrated parts, and this could be regarded as the greatest innovation in audience structure since the invention of the choir, thousands of years ago.
To see computer games as merely the newest self-reinvention of Hollywood, as some do, is to disregard those socio-aesthetic aspects and also to force outdated paradigms onto a new cultural object. True, there is a considerable Hollywoodisation of the games industry at the moment, that started with the "interactive movies" failures of the early nineties, but there is also a world wide, non-commercial, collective games movement that has a better infrastructure than any amateur movement before it. Hollywood, like the record industry, is all about distribution, and now there is a distribution mechanism that rivals booth: the Internet. Even Bill Gates III failed to swallow up the Internet, and there is much less reason to believe that Hollywood will succeed. From the closed ecosystem of Nintendo to the open source games communities on the Net; game studies must study both; it would be a mistake to assume that the "Nintendo-Hollywood" industrial complex will rule, and eliminate the alternative. As a cultural studies strategy, this would be like preparing to fight the previous war.
对于我们当中的一部分人来说，电子游戏已经成为比电影，甚至体育更具文化重要性的现象。从2001年来看，电子游戏的潜在文化意义实际上是不可思议的。很明显，这些游戏，特别是多人游戏，将戏剧，电影，电视节目和小说等传统大众媒体从未有过的方式与美学和社会相结合。旧的大众媒体创造了大众，他们共享价值观和持续的市场，但大众传媒社区仍然是想象的（在本尼迪克特.安德森的意义上），参与者之间很少或没有直接沟通。显然，多人游戏不是那样的。在游戏中MUD1，Ultima Online，或Quake Arena，审美价值和社会性是一个整体，这可以被视为自数千年前合唱团发明以来观众结构中最伟大的创新。
与唱片业一样，好莱坞产业的核心是关于发行的，但现在有一个与好莱坞机制相抗衡的分销渠道：互联网。甚至比尔.盖茨都没能吞下互联网，我们当然也没有理由相信好莱坞的模式在游戏中会成功。从任天堂封闭的生态系统到网络上的开源游戏社区; 游戏研究必须研究两者; 认为“任天堂- 好莱坞”工业园区将统治是错误的，并消除替代方案。作为一种文化研究战略，这就像准备战斗前一场战争一样。
Much hype has been produced about the ability of new technology to instigate new ways of thought and communication. Take hypertext, which was supposed to give us writing skills that adhered much closer to the way our brains worked, a more "natural" way of textual communication. So far, however, the World Wide Web, the must successful hypertext system by far, has only produced a better distribution mechanism, and very few texts actually use the nonlinear possibilities of the technology. Games, however, are often simulations; they are not static labyrinths like hypertexts or literary fictions. The simulation aspect is crucial: it is radically different alternative to narratives as a cognitive and communicative structure. Simulations are bottom up; they are complex systems based on logical rules.
Games are both object and process; they can’t be read as texts or listened to as music, they must be played. Playing is integral, not coincidental like the appreciative reader or listener. The creative involvement is a necessary ingredient in the uses of games. The complex nature of simulations is such that a result can’t be predicted beforehand; it can vary greatly depending on the player’s luck, skill and creativity. In multi-player games, social skills are needed, or must be developed. Anyone who has spent some time in a multi-player game knows that. Yet much of the industry and the academic commentators see the need for "narrative" structures in order to understand games and make games "better." In this issue, the debate about narratives’ and narratology’s relevance to game studies is clearly visible. This is a debate that shows the very early stage we are still in, where the struggle of controlling and shaping the theoretical paradigms has just started. We expect the debate to continue, here and elsewhere, but hope that future contributions will address the points already made, and not simply make the same claims over and over again. That is what an academic journal is for.
人们对新技术煽动新思维方式和沟通方式的能力进行了大量宣传。采取超文本，这应该比我们的写作印刷技巧更接近我们的大脑工作方式，一种更“自然”的文本交流方式。然而，到目前为止，万维网是迄今为止必须成功的超文本系统，它只产生了一种更好的分配机制，很少有文本实际上发挥了这种的非线性的可能性。然而，游戏通常是模拟; 它们不是像超文本或文学小说那样的静态迷宫。模拟方面至关重要：作为一种认知和交际结构，它与叙事完全不同。模拟是自下而上的; 它们是基于逻辑规则的更加复杂的系统。
游戏既是对象又是过程; 它们不能被视为文本或被视为音乐，它们必须被播放。玩耍是不可或缺的，而不是像欣赏的读者或听众那样巧合。创意参与是游戏使用的必要因素。模拟的复杂性使得事先无法预测结果; 它可以根据玩家的运气，技巧和创造力去创造不同。在多人游戏中，需要或必须开发社交技能。任何玩过多人游戏的人都知道这一点。然而，许多行业和学术评论家都认为需要“叙事”结构来理解游戏并使游戏“更好”。在这个问题上，关于叙事和叙事学与游戏研究的相关性的争论清晰可见。这是一场辩论，显示了我们现在处于非常早期的阶段，控制和塑造理论范式的斗争才刚刚开始。我们希望在这里和其他地方继续进行辩论，但希望未来的贡献能够解决已经提出的问题，做出更多的游戏学研究，希望未来本研究的贡献将解决已经提出的问题，而不是简单地一遍又一遍地提出相同的要求。这就是学术期刊的用途。
Creating a New Discipline
The greatest challenge to computer game studies will no doubt come from within the academic world. Making room for a new field usually means reducing the resources of the existing ones, and the existing fields will also often respond by trying to contain the new area as a subfield. Games are not a kind of cinema, or literature, but colonising attempts from both these fields have already happened, and no doubt will happen again. And again, until computer game studies emerges as a clearly self-sustained academic field. To make things more confusing, the current pseudo-field of "new media" (primarily a strategy to claim computer-based communication for visual media studies), wants to subsume computer games as one of its objects. There are many problems with this strategy, as there is with the whole concept of "new media," and most dramatically the fact that computer games are not one medium, but many different media. From a computerized toy like Furby to the game Drug Wars on the Palm Pilot, not to mention massively multi-player games like Everquest, or the recent Anarchy Online, which was tested by 40.000 simultaneous playtesters, the extensive media differences within the field of computer games makes a traditional medium perspective almost useless. We end up with what media theorist Liv Hausken has termed media blindness: how a failure to see the specific media differences leads to a "media-neutral" media theory that is anything but neutral. This is clearly a danger when looking at games as cinema or stories, but also when making general claims about games, as though they all belonged to the same media format and shared the same characteristics.
Computer games are perhaps the richest cultural genre we have yet seen, and this challenges our search for a suitable methodological approach. We all enter this field from somewhere else, from anthropology, sociology, narratology, semiotics, film studies, etc, and the political and ideological baggage we bring from our old field inevitably determines and motivates our approaches. And even more importantly, do we stay or do we go back? Do we want a separate field named computer game studies, or do we want to claim the field for our old discipline? This is a common dilemma for any scholar in a new field; take for example digital culture studies. Today, every modern culture is also digital, so every sector of the humanities and social sciences must see the digital as part of their own territory. Hence, a separate field of digital culture is difficult to construct, and probably (after the existing fields warmed to its importance), completely unnecessary. The digital theorists will finally have found interest and acceptance back at the old discipline, and so the fellowship offered by interdisciplinary communities (such as the Internet Research Association) while still valuable, is no longer crucial when building a career.
In computer games, this is different. The old field of game studies barely exists (see Jesper Juul’s review in this issue), and seems in no shape to give the computer game scholars a safe haven. Some would argue that the obvious place for game studies is in a media department, but given the strong focus there on mass media and the visual aesthetics, the fundamentally unique aspects of the games could easily be lost.
Today we have the possibility to build a new field. We have a billion dollar industry with almost no basic research, we have the most fascinating cultural material to appear in a very long time, and we have the chance of uniting aesthetic, cultural and technical design aspects in a single discipline. This will not be a painless process, and many mistakes will be made along the way. But if we are successful, we can actually contribute both constructively and critically, and make a difference outside the academy. I am not too optimistic about influencing a multibillion industry. But in the long run, who knows?
Of course, games should also be studied within existing fields and departments, such as Media Studies, Sociology, and English, to name a few. But games are too important to be left to these fields. (And they did have thirty years in which they did nothing!) Like architecture, which contains but cannot be reduced to art history, game studies should contain media studies, aesthetics, sociology etc. But it should exist as an independent academic structure, because it cannot be reduced to any of the above. These are interesting times.
You are all invited!