Gamers Love Movies Too! SCMS13 Proposal

Inception, Movie Poster
Videogame studies has had a complicated relationship with film studies. Early scholarship on videogames–and digital media more generally–relied on applications and adaptations of the more established film studies methodologies to bring games into academic discourse. Yet, videogame studies developed into a field of study by deliberately distinguishing videogames from film and other narrative or representational media. As a result, cross-disciplinary conversation stagnated, even as the mutual influence between the two industries intensified. Having thoroughly complicated the notion that videogames are “interactive movies,” how do we now discuss the relationship between games and film? What approaches allow for productive interdisciplinary study that respects the specific qualities ofeach medium?

As the Society for Cinema and Media Studies has transitioned to an inter-media mission, it has established itself as a forum for videogame studies. Last year’s annual conference hosted no fewer than nine panels and workshops on gaming. Going forward, SCMS has the opportunity to overcome disciplinary silos by facilitating conversations across media and discipline. In that spirit, this workshop seeks to further integrate videogame studies into the SCMS community by exploring common ground for videogame and film studies.

To begin, Alenda Chang conducts a “lightning” survey of theoretical debates in contemporary film studies–including realism, the dominance of the optical, auteur theory, area studies, and the “digital” moment–as they raise corollary questions for the present and future of videogame studies. Applying videogame studies methodologies to film, Conor Mckeown presents an algorithmic analysis of Christopher Nolan’s Inception that illustrates how the rules laid out by the film structure fan interaction and thereby constitute a procedural rhetoric of cinema. Ed Chang considers the implications of an enacted “gaze,” recasting the discussion of Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft as he raises the possibility of a queer gamic gaze. Finally, Sandra Danilovic shows how the boundary between filmic and gamic gazes blurs in Machinima’s gamer-as-filmmaker as she offers Machinima as a method for exploring the convergence of film, gameplay, and performance.