After the ranting, moaning and blogging about the first session I participated in at GDC this year, I have to say I was a bit nervous about presenting at The Game Studies Download. However, given that it was the last session, on the last day, Ian Bogost, Jane McGonigal and I figured there wouldn't be too many people around to see it, much less heckle. We made 50 handouts and figured that was being optimistic. And then the people started arriving, and then more came in, and the room was filled. Seriously.
They looked friendly enough--at least, no one had fruit ready to throw at us. It was simply kind of surreal, after reading the comments on TN this past week and hearing other things at the conference about the problems with game studies and developer/academic relations.
After our "high energy" presentation, the questions were even stranger. Someone asked why humanities research got left out, and we had to say that we couldn't find it to be directly relevant on our top 10 list of bulleted points. Ian made the point, and I agreed, that doing the research for this panel made us think differently about academic research. While I'm not going to say that what we've done personally has no value, it was a definite challenge to try and make it *directly relevant* in a BULLETED POINT for developers. And there are huge gaps in what we don't know. Where is the research about sports games, to take just one example? Anyway, the point is, I enjoyed the exercise, and learned a lot from it. I hope the audience did as well.
But overall, I like to think that the attendance demonstrates that developers are interested in what academics might be able to tell them (again I will point out: no fruit was thrown). And all week, I talked with developers who were interested in what was going on with research, from the smallest to the largest companies. Maybe the issue is the "larger" community. It's always easy to abstract and oversimplify at that level. But I know that on an individual level, there are real conversations and collaborations going on. I don't want this to turn into some rosy "it's better than we think" or "can't we all just get along" thing, but I do think that perhaps the situation is not as dire as it's hyped to be. But then again, I haven't gotte my evals back yet.