Author Q&A Session with Daniel Muriel & Garry Crawford

Routledge is pleased to share with you our author Q&A session with Daniel Muriel & Garry Crawford following the publication of their new title Video Games as Culture.

Read our Q&A interview with Daniel & Garry, where they discuss what inspired them to collaborate and write their new title which explores video game culture.

About the book and the subject area:

Congratulations to the both of you on the publication of your book Video Games as Culture. What do you both want your audience to take away from the book?

Daniel: At the very beginning of Video Games as Culture, we quote Manuel Castells on his perception of the nascent 2010s: ‘We live in confusing times, as is often the case in periods of historical transition between different forms of society’. And we agree, but because we believe that we always live in confusing times: we are perpetually between different forms of society. What we would like our audience to take away from the book is some theoretical and practical tools that help them navigate the tides of the particular confusing times in which we live; times marked by the rise of the digital era, the expansion of video game culture, a growing process of videoludification of society, and the consolidation of neoliberalism as the hegemonic set of political rationalities that governs our forms of existence in late capitalism. Having said this, what our readers will take from our work will vary significantly depending on their particular interest. After all, this is a book intended for a wide range of potential readers; from game studies, social science, and media and cultural studies scholars, to PhD, Masters, and higher-level undergraduate students, including anyone interested in the study of video games, its culture, and wider issues that affect contemporary society.

What inspired you both to write this book?

Daniel: We felt that there was a gap in the theoretical and empirical intersection of game studies, sociology, and media and cultural studies that nobody had filled (at least completely) up to that moment, and there was room for adding an original and novel contribution to knowledge in those fields. While most research in this field tends to focus on a particular aspect of gaming, or a particular type of social actor such as certain kinds of video gamers, developers, or other professionals in the industry, our research considered the roles and attitudes of those in various positions ranging from casual to avid gamers, to games designers, journalists, and also those often missing from research in this field, such as games academics, and those involved in the wider cultural interpretation of games, such as museum directors. We believed that we could integrate a number of key concepts and ideas frequently employed in game studies, but rarely their meaning, value or use had been fully elaborated. Thus, we found ourselves with an opportunity to write a book that might push game studies and sociology into a number of scarcely explored areas, and set out new theoretical and methodological frameworks for the analysis of video games, gamers, and video game culture, but also of contemporary society, everyday life, and processes of identity construction.

Why is your book relevant to present day video game culture and society?

Garry: If we accept the argument that video games are probably the biggest contemporary cultural industry, then this has to say something about the nature of the world we live in today? So, this book is not necessarily a book about video game culture. Well it is, at one level, but it is not just that. Our central argument is that the nature, popularity, and influence of video games tells us a lot about the world we live in. It reflects our culture and priorities, but also helps shape and drive these. Such as, in how video games are influencing the nature of other industries such as film, television, and publishing, but also impacting on other areas of social life, such as how museums and galleries are employing video game like technologies, or how social media is becoming increasingly game-like; where we are all collecting followers like popularity points. This can also be seen in how games are impacting on and shaping the nature of other areas of social like, like work and education. Where others have referred to this as a gamification of particular aspects of social life, we argue that this is not just about specific activities becoming more game-like, this is about the wider and more fundamental social importance of video games. It is about video games being the most visible expression of the nature of the world we live in today, and in turn, hegemonic in shaping its culture. There has been a videoludifcation of society, but equally, the popularity and impact of video games is a reflection of the neoliberal times in which we live.


About the yourselves: 

Tell us more about each of your academic backgrounds’?

Daniel: I have developed my entire professional and academic career, which encompasses a period of 15 years, in the field of social sciences and, particularly, sociology. The majority of my academic production relies on a broad and extensive empirical research activity, which has been carried out using essentially a qualitative approach. My work as a researcher has taken place at different research centres and universities. Among them, the University of Deusto (Spain), the University of Salford (UK), The University of the Basque Country (Spain), Complutense University of Madrid (Spain), University of Buenos Aires (Argentina), University of Barcelona (Spain), and Newcastle University (UK). I have also been linked to other private and public institutions, such as city councils, scientific and cultural entities, and companies. I have written widely on social theory, identity, cultural heritage, video games, and science and technology studies, publishing in internationally renowned peer reviewed journals and publishing houses, as well as in magazines, newspapers, and other media outlets.

Garry: I suppose my interest in academic research began with my undergraduate degree at Salford, when I did my dissertation with the late-Ian Taylor. This was on football, so next I headed to the Centre for Football Research at Leicester, before heading back to Salford to do my PhD. This was again on sport and again with Ian Taylor, until he left and then sadly passed away, at which point Brian Longhurst took over supervising my work. I think I owe both Ian and Brian a gratitude for bringing different influences to my work. Ian Taylor was bit of an old Marxists, and that critique of culture I’d hope is still evident in my work, but Brian Longhurst helped me also see the possibilities and opportunities afforded by popular culture. Post-PhD my work expanded beyond sport, though it is still an area I am interested in. And over the years I’ve written on a wide range of subjects, but most often on video games, which has probably become my main research interest.

What first attracted each of you to this topic as an area of study?

Daniel: The first thing that comes to my mind is that both Garry and I are long-time gamers, therefore I think we have always had an interest in this medium; even if it is just as individuals that enjoy certain type of cultural consumption. However, beyond this particular emotional attachment to video games, I believe we both have developed in recent years an intellectual and academic interest in them and their culture, and the impact this has on contemporary society. In my case, in the past, I had studied the importance of cultural heritage in the formation of collective identities and representations of particular communities, nations, and groups during the last decades. So, after that research, I asked myself: which cultural product would be the most relevant in order to understand similar issues in a society governed by digital culture? And the answer was immediate: video games. I think that was what made me pursue this area of study.

What advice would you both give to aspiring authors?

Garry: I heard a phrase recently, I am not sure where it was, or even who coined it, but it was ‘pay yourself first’. And for me, this really rang true. Too often academics have this idea they will start writing once their teaching is out of the way, and their marking is done, and their emails and admin is dealt with. But of course, these things are never done. So the writing never gets done. The truth is, in academia, you have to at times be a little bit selfish and put your goals first. I am not saying abandon your students, and never check your email, or not do your admin. Of course not. But things like admin and email will never be done, and if you are leaving your writing until they are, you will never write. These kinds of activities will always expand to fill the time you have. So put some time aside for yourself first. Start the day or week writing. Do the emails or admin later in the day, or better still, tomorrow, and instead, write. And I do mean write. Do not spend too long researching, reading, or planning, as again, these can be never ending tasks. The key to writing is to write. To steal another phrase, ‘if you want to be a writer, then write’.

Garry, thank you for your continued relationship with Taylor & Francis over the years. May we ask what inspired you to recurrently publish with us?

Garry: Good Question. Why do I keep coming back to Routledge? I think this was maybe my fifth book for you, and I have since delivered another manuscript; this time an edited collection on digital football culture, edited with Stefan Lawrence. I think it is like all good relationships, in that, over time you build up trust and faith in each other. At first, it is a bit about selling your idea and yourself. It is about convincing a publisher that you have an idea for a book that will sell, and that you are the right person to write it. But then over time, you both learn more about each other, and grow to trust each other more.But also, I think more than this, I have always found Routledge really supportive but also very honest. In particular Emily Briggs, who I have worked with several times now, but many others in the team there, they will let you know clearly what they are after, and what they are not, and I think that is really helpful for an author. That right mix of enough room to pursue what you want to, but also enough clear direction on what the publisher expects from you.

About the Authors:

Daniel Muriel holds a PhD in Sociology. He is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Leisure Studies Institute, University of Deusto (Bilbao, Spain). Daniel is an experienced researcher and author on identity, cultural heritage, science and technology studies, digital culture, experts, and video game culture. Daniel is co-author of the book Video Games as Culture (2018) and is European reviews editor for Cultural Sociology. Website: https://danielmuriel.com/

Garry Crawford is Professor of Sociology at the University of Salford, UK. His research and teaching focuses primarily on audiences, media and consumer patterns, digital media and new technologies, and most specifically, sport fans and video gamers. Garry is Director of the University of Salford Digital Cluster and Reviews Editor for Cultural Sociology.

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Daniel Muriel

Video Games as Culture

Garry Crawford

Garry Crawford

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Chapter 1 preview

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