British Digital Game Studies

This paper provides a short and potted recent history of digital games research in Great Britain. We begin this story in 2001. Though a substantial amount of research and writing on digital games has been taking place in Britain since at least the 1980s, for us the turn of the new millennium marks a logical starting point of our recent history. Not only was this the year that Aarseth (2001) marked as ‘year one’ for ‘computer game research’, it was also the year that the first major international conference on digital games took place in the UK (in Bristol), and the first time a major British government grant was awarded to undertake research on digital gaming. The paper then charts the significant role Britain played in hosting major early international gatherings of (now leading) games researchers, such as those in Bristol and also Manchester. As well as the important crop of early British-authored (text) books that helped shape the direction of this new and emerging discipline. What we then see is a significant growth in British digital games studies focused on a number of key events, research clusters, and publications, and the development of a particular framing of digital games within a wider social, cultural and political context. It is this, we would suggest, that has given British digital game studies its particular flavour and also its important global role in pushing forward research, theory, and key debates.

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