“Bioshock”, “education”, and “textual analysis”.
Those are three tags you’re not likely to see on a Dog Blog post. You aren’t even likely to see them on most video game sites. Local site Vigigames is the place that rectifies that.
Their tagline “Games in context” sums up their project pretty well. The three contributors – Matthew Blackwell, John Cameron, and Christian Hardy – are trying to talk about video games from a critical perspective that takes into account scholarly theory and thoughts other than “the graphics are sweet”.
One of their more recent posts, “Game study; or, will we play Bioshock in classrooms?” (which has all the tags listed above) is a good place to start:
I bring up Bioshock not because I think that it’ll be studied in schools (well, maybe in universities one day. Too much gore for high schools), but because it sort of represents that hope that games will, one day, be self-aware enough to recognize their potential for a deeper insight into the human condition. A teacher shouldn’t use a particular book because it’s canonized – the book is a means to an end. By studying books and literature, the student is exercising their literacy skills and applying them in ways to examine the themes. This is why in my classroom, I often use unconventional texts, including movie trailers, advertisements and radio broadcasts. Yet, to some degree, this is still playing it safe.
There’s obviously a certain stigma with using videogames in the classroom. They’re so entertainment-oriented and, more specifically, product oriented that few would even be worth studying as a class. Bioshock is an exception, obviously, but more often than not, developers aren’t interested in making games that would require deep textual analysis. Not to mention that few people would understand why one would use videogames as a teaching tool – parents and administrators, specifically.