Session Proposal: Studying Games at a Liberal Arts College

I’m interested in the ways that games, game studies, libraries, digital humanities, and liberal arts curriculum intersect, even though I’m not always completely sure how they intersect, especially from a pedagogical perspective.  I noticed the official, legal definition of “humanities” linked to on the THATCamp SE blog, and games is not explicitly listed among the disciplines humanistic scholars study, even though games definitely lead us to ask questions about language, history, ethics, etc.

I also realize that there is already a ton of great work in the THATcamp community on games going on (indeed, if this is truly my interest I may have signed up for the wrong THATcamp!).  Still, I would welcome some more discussions about games, humanities, liberal arts education, and libraries at this (un)conference for a few reasons.

First, my institution, the University of Montevallo, has a strong commitment to the liberal arts as a foundation for an education leading to “meaningful employment and responsible, informed citizenship.”  Second, one of our newest curricular expansions is the addition of a Game Studies minor.  There are many interdisciplinary conversations about games happening on our campus, and these include gaming and information literacy, or as I like to think of it more broadly, gaming and preparing for life in a participatory democracy.  In the past year, our library has hosted several gaming events at our library, which have been part of the ALA’s National Gaming Day @ your library events.

I was also compelled by a round-table panel this past summer at the New York Public Library called “Digital Humanities and the Future of Libraries.”  A video of the event is on the NYPL page.  Most applicable is Kari Kraus’s talk, which begins around the 18 minute mark.

Kraus claims that the figure of the gamer shadows nearly all groundbreaking digital preservation work that happens today.  I think the implications of this statement are worth discussing.

Some of the questions I have in mind are:

  • What role do libraries play in preserving games as a part of the cultural record, and how should libraries go about this?
  • What other models for preserving games as a tool to teach from a humanities perspective exist?
  • How can we preserve, annotate, and document games and game play to emphasize ways of knowing, learning, and participating in society?
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About Andrew Battista

I am an Assistant Professor, Information Literacy and Reference Librarian at the University of Montevallo, Alabama's public liberal arts university. Previously, I did a Ph.D. in English Literature at the University of Kentucky.