Rudolf Inderst enjoys video games since 1985 and is a professor for Game Design at IU. He received a master’s degree in political science, American cultural studies as well as contemporary and recent history from Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich and holds two PhDs in game studies.
A certain kind of “freedom” – the in-between-state of Game Studies in Germany
FROG 2022 – Talk
The state of German digital game studies can be described as a particular “in-between” one.
Yes, on the one hand, the general interest in academic game research has grown over the last two decades and certain cornerstones associated with classic disciplines in science and humanities could be observed – for instance the increase of conferences or publications (Paidia or Language at Play, just to name two). There’s also a local GSA DiGRA chapter and a subchapter within the Gesellschaft für Medienwissenschaften has been established. An increment of informal connections on social media (Discord, Facebook groups etc.) is also to be mentioned here. Circling back to my 2020 FROG talk, the argument can also be made that video game essayist combine questions of game research and game analysis on YouTube, although this is – looking at the data – not a significant German phenomenon.
On the other hand, as this talk argues, digital games studies in Germany have not yet entered the state of independent academic discipline. This aforementioned specific “in-between” condition is related to its degree of institutionalization within the landscape of tertiary education. Digital game studies have have been parked in two fields mainly: They are a interdisciplinary field of interest for other academic disciplines such as literary, film or media studies (one might dare to add: including “attempts” of “hostile take-overs”). Also, they have become part of practice-oriented private or university of applied science programs offering course content in game design, game engineering or game development.
Altogether, we are therefore talking about a particular state of “freedom”: One that allows research and scholarship with – frequently – only the mildest boundaries in course creation and conduction. But also one that makes it very challenging to build a career upon since the institutional background is mostly missing.