History has never been so fun. A free exhibit at the University of Arizona titled ?Documenting Digital Play? features the history of video games and the numerous communities it creates.
The exhibit focuses on the cultural implications video games have had throughout history and how they can facilitate learning in people of all ages. It is part of an initiative to have scholars take video games more seriously as a medium worth studying, much like music and movies are studied for their cultural influence.
“People like to play , and when people like to do something, the learning is transparent,” said Judd Ruggill, a UA media arts instructor and co-editor of the Learning Games Initiative. “Games are useful for teachers and students of all ages, because when people enjoy learning, it becomes more effective.”
Since 1999, the LGI has studied the effects of video games on society and seeks to better educate people through them, said Ruggill.
According to Ken McAllister, co-director of the LGI and an associate professor of English, there are many different types of communities created by video games, and it?s appropriate that they be studied in an academic setting where the resources exist to investigate all of gaming?s different aspects.
“In many cases, there is a sense that video games are a ‘trendy’ thing to study,” McAllister said. “But many institutions aren’t investing in gaming as an academic endeavor. They’re hung up on the idea that play is not worth studying. If it’s not serious, it’s not worth studying.”
The exhibit will be on display until April 28 and is sponsored by the Learning Games Initiative, the Friends of the University of Arizona Libraries, and the UA Department of English.
There are many different types of communities created by video games, and an academic setting is the perfect place for all of them to come together … where the resources exist to investigate all the different aspects of games, McAllister said.
The environment for video games is changing slowly, and there are more than 100 degree programs in the United States in game studies or game development. This number is likely to grow as institutions come to recognize the cultural and economic importance of the game, McAllister said.
The exhibit at Special Collections is a small part of the changing environment of gaming, and Bill Tsitsos, a UA sociology instructor, said he brought his sociology of pop culture class to study the community building that games create.
“It was very nostalgic, it reminded me of my childhood,” said Elena Cantu, a psychology senior and a member of the class. “Games have had such a large impact on society and technology. They’re a major part of our lives.”
The exhibit will run until April 28. It is located on the southwest corner of East University Boulevard and North Cherry Avenue. Hours are Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.