For a while now, we’ve been making podcast courses as we play through great video games together. We’re running our first live course now, an Intro to Video Game Studies. Another thing we like doing here at the Academy, and that we want to do more of in the future, is reading great books together. It’s awesome to see the whole world catch on to the possibilities of online discussion, though the circumstances are not ideal. Perhaps there’s something about getting to talk in person which doesn’t come across in a video chat, and we’ll all be glad when we’re allowed to see our friends again face to face, but there are still wonderful kinds of connections we can make across the distance that separates us. Books, which have always found a way to speak to us through time and space, are more valuable than ever, particularly well-suited to the demands of distance education.

“Here is a ‘you’ in which my ‘I’ is reflected; here is where all distance is abolished.” –Stefan Zweig, Montaigne

If only I could read Japanese, the Kato-Mitsuda collaboration Kirite would be an open book to me

The more we study games, the more it behooves us to familiarize ourselves with the existing scholarship on them, and with people currently engaged in it. So this is the main kind of literature we have in mind to review. There’s never been a better time to access the wealth of information out there; our aim is to make it better known and applicable for those, like us, just starting out in the field.

Patrick Holleman, one of those scholars we’ve been fortunate to talk to on the Xenogears podcast, very graciously sent his shortlist of video game studies resources to add to our own. He singled out Jon Peterson’s Playing at the World for the student of RPGs and recommended the research gathered at the Critical Distance Compilation. In terms of the peculiar intertextuality Xenogears invites, he suggested a range of works of literature, psychology, mysticism, and popular culture to consider, which we’ve added to the course page. And though he didn’t list them, rest assured that his own books on games such as Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI and VII are on our shortlist to read.

In the coming weeks, we’ll begin offering our takes on more of the major texts in video game studies, classic and contemporary alike. If you’d like to participate, keep an eye out for courses on ludology and intertextuality inspired by playing games and dedicated to promoting the old-fashioned joys of reading books.

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