Getting a Game Studies PhD: A Guide for Aspiring Video Game Scholars / Our Glass Lake

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in the first place written by Bonnie Ruberg in the drop of 2016, with feedback from Harrison Gish, Teddy Pozo, Whitney Pow, Dietrick “ Squinky ” Squinkifer, and many more via social media. last update April 2019. Suggestions for additions to this list are identical welcome. See liaison information at properly of page .
Over the final few years, I have received messages from many aspiring game studies scholars : current undergraduate students, masters students, or early folks who are excited about approaching television games academically and want to know how to get the train and the credentials to enter the field. What inspiring messages to receive !
The question I silent hear frequently is, “Where can I go to get my Ph.D. in game studies?” Answering that doubt can be amazingly slippery. Though bet on studies is a growing and arguably well-established field, at present, there aren ’ thymine Ph.D. programs in North America that concede degrees specifically dedicated to video games. But preceptor ’ thyroxine despair. Below is information and recommendations for how to achieve the goal of getting a Ph.D. that will position you for a career in game studies .
Whether you yourself are an aspirant crippled studies scholar or an educator working with a scholar who is concern in pursuing game studies, I hope this handy template will serve as a helpful startle distributor point for your search…

What Is “Game Studies”?
Before you know which Ph.D. programs to apply to, you have to know whether plot studies is right for you .
Game studies is the scholarly field dedicated to exploring digital games, analogue games, and play. Though some of the early text that have become foundational for bet on studies come from the early- and mid-twentieth century, game studies as an academic discipline got started in the 1990 ’ mho. Over the past two decades, game studies scholars have produced a rich array of exploit that address questions like how to define games, why players play, and what cultural meaning is communicated through games. In another sense though, game studies is silent a relatively new discipline. many scholars from early fields are surprised to hear that there is an stallion corner of academia dedicated to games .
Most recently, game studies has taken a plow away from its formalist roots and toward issues of culture and social department of justice. Some of the most vibrant areas of game studies today include scholarship on television games and LGBTQ issues, race, ability, identity, and diverseness .
many game studies scholars do besides make games, and some of the most insightful game studies work has come out of collaborations between scholars and makers. however, for the purposes of this guide, “ game studies ” refers to the employment of analyzing games rather than making them .
The Dilemma for Aspiring Game Studies Scholars
There has never been a more excite time to study video games, or to make a career out of researching games and their players. The medium of games is growing and changing, calling for new voices and a wide-eyed range of critical perspectives. Game studies is poised to become an increasingly important academic sphere. many universities are hiring faculty in this area. To thrive, crippled studies needs a vibrant next coevals of scholars .
however, for those who aspire to become game studies professionals, figuring out which educational path to take can be unmanageable. Though it is becoming more and more common for universities to offer courses on video games, and though institutions like USC and NYU ( among others ) have excellent programs dedicated to games, presently the alone available calibrate degrees specifically dedicated to games focus on crippled making — that is, game design and development — not on the academic cogitation of games. While there are doctoral programs that allow students to tailor their education toward games, there are no institutions yet that offer a give, games-focused Ph.D .
At this point, possibly you ’ rhenium wonder : should I evening get a Ph.D. ? good question. It depends what kind of job you ’ re looking for. Entering a doctoral program is a big commitment ( most take five to seven years ), so being informed before deciding whether and where to apply is important. But let ’ s be frank. While you don ’ t need a Ph.D. to do video recording crippled analysis per southeast, a doctor’s degree is considered a basic requirement for most research-focused staff positions. For better or for worse, if you ’ rhenium hope to be a full-time, tenure-track university or college professor whose focus is games scholarship ( preferably than game design ), getting a Ph.D. is still the have a bun in the oven path .
so, what do you do if you want to be a game studies scholar but you can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate get your Ph.D. in game studies ?
OPTION 1: Pick a Ph.D. Program with Game Studies Faculty In It
One choice is to apply to Ph.D. programs that are not specifically focused on games, but which have game studies scholars on their staff. These should be faculty members whose work you ’ re familiar with ( if you recognize the names but don ’ thymine know what their inquiry is about, it ’ second time to do some reading ) and whom you would be excited to learn from .
Some things to keep in mind : If the platform you enter merely has one or two games studies faculty, you ’ ll be working close with these folks throughout your time in the plan — so you want to make sure, as best you can, that they ’ re a good fit for you. If you ’ re badly considering applying, I recommend sending enthusiastic but courteous ( individual ) emails to these electric potential mentors. That direction you can learn more about how/if they see your interests fitting with the course of study. You ’ ll besides already be on their radar when they sit down to review the pool of applications .
When you look at faculty rosters, remember that “ visiting professors ” and adjuncts, while they can be amazing educators, may only be working in the department for a short time. besides, think about the department you ’ five hundred be applying to, not fair the scholar you want to work with. Is it a media studies department, a communication department, a calculator science department ? The discipline in which you get your Ph.D. will significantly affect the kind of eruditeness you get the luck to do and what sorts of academician jobs you qualify for .
Below is a tilt of Ph.D. programs in North America that have game studies scholars as members of their staff. This list is always growing and changing. All suggestions for extra inclusions are very welcome ( see contact information at correct ) .
American University – Ph.D. in Communication
Game studies faculty : Benjamin Stokes
In junction with the American University Game Lab
Arizona State University – Ph.D. in Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology
Game studies faculty : Alexandrina Agloro
Arizona State University – Ph.D. in Learning, Literacies, and Technology
Game studies staff : Betty Gee, Jim Gee
Carleton University – Ph.D. in Cultural Mediations
Game studies faculty : Aubrey Anable
Concordia University – Individualized Program Ph.D. ( INDI )
( Concordia ’ s INDI degree has besides been included below in the segment on interdisciplinary programs. )
Game studies staff : Mia Consalvo, Sandra Gabriele, Lynn Hughes, Rilla Khaled, Bart Simon
Florida State University – Ph.D. in Communication
Game studies staff : Arienne Ferchaud
Georgia Tech – Ph.D. in Digital Media
Game studies staff : Ian Bogost, Janet Murray
Indiana University – Ph.D. in Media Arts and Sciences
Game studies staff : Raiford Guins
NC State University – Ph.D. in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media
Game studies staff : grant Bollmer, Andrew Johnston, Adriana Souza east Silva, Nicholas Taylor
New York University – Ph.D. in Media, Culture, and Communication
Game studies faculty : Laine Nooney
Old Dominion University – Ph.D. in English
Game studies staff : Kevin Moberly, Marc Ouellette
Ryerson University – Ph.D. in Communication and Culture ( joint platform with York University )
Game studies faculty : Jason Boyd
Simon Frasier University – Ph.D. in Communication
Game studies faculty : Milena Droumeva, Dal Yong Jin
Stanford University – Ph.D. in Art and Art History ( specialization in Film & Media Studies ), Communication, Modern Thought & Literature, or Theater & Performance Studies
Game studies staff : Shane Denson, Henry Lowood
Syracuse University – Ph.D. in English
Game studies faculty : Chris Hanson
Temple University – Ph.D. in Media and Communication
Game studies staff : Hector Postigo, Adrienne Shaw
University of Arizona – Ph.D. in Literature
Game studies faculty : Ken McAllister

UC Davis – Ph.D. in Literature, Performance Studies, Sociology, etc.
note : game studies faculty are primarily associated with Cinema and Digital Media, which does not grant Ph.D.s. however doctoral students in the departments mentioned are presently engaged in or have recently completed games-related Ph.D. exercise.
Game studies staff : Stephanie Boluk, Gina Bloom, Joshua McCoy, Patrick LeMieux, Timothy Lenior, Colin Milburn
UC Irvine – Ph.D. in Informatics
Game studies faculty : Mimi Ito, Bonnie Ruberg, Katie Salen, Kurt Squire, Constance Steinkuehler, Theresa Tanenbaum, Aaron Trammell
UC Irvine – Ph.D. in Visual Studies
Game studies faculty : Peter Krapp, Braxton Soderman
UC Irvine – Ph.D. in Anthropology
Game studies faculty : Tom Boellstorff
UCLA – Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies
Game studies faculty : Stephen Mamber
UC Santa Barbara – Ph.D. in Film and Media Studies
Game studies faculty : Alenda Chang
UC Santa Cruz – Ph.D. in Computational Media
Game studies staff : Nathan Altice, Katherine Isbister, Michael Mateas, Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Jim Whitehead
UC Santa Cruz – Ph.D. in Film and Digital Media
Game studies staff : Soraya Murray, Susana Ruiz
( Faculty from UCSC ’ s Art & Design : Games + playable Media Program besides support game studies inquiry : micha cárdenas, A. M. Darke, Robin Hunicke, Elizabeth Swensen )
University of Central Florida — Ph.D. in Texts and Technologies
Game studies staff : Emily K. Johnson, Eddie Lohmeyer, Eric Murnane, John Murray, Anastasia Salter, Mel Stanfill ,
University of Chicago – Ph.D. in English
Game studies staff : Patrick Jagoda
University of Hawaii, Manoa – Ph.D. in Communication and Information Sciences
Game studies faculty : kelly Bergstrom, Jennifer Sunrise Winter
University of Michigan – Ph.D. in Screen Arts & Cultures or american Culture
Game studies faculty : Sheila Murphy, Lisa Nakamura
University of Texas at Dallas – Ph.D. in Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication
Game studies faculty : Josef Nguyen and Ann Wu
University of Toronto – Ph.D. in Information Sciences
Game studies faculty : Tero Karppi, David B. Nieborg, Sara Grimes
University of Washington – Ph.D. in Information Science
Game studies faculty : Jinha Lee
University of Waterloo – Ph.D. in English Language and Literature ( in conjunction with the Games Institute )
Game studies staff : see Games Institute staff page
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee – Ph.D. in Media, Cinema, and Digital Studies
Game studies faculty : Stuart Moulthrop
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee – Ph.D. in Anthropology
Game studies faculty : Thomas Malaby
York University – Ph.D. in Digital Media or Education
Game studies staff : Sandra Danilovic, Yifat Shaik, Kurt Thumlert ,
OPTION 2: Pick a Ph.D. Program with Ties to a Game Design Program
A second gear option is to get your Ph.D. through a program that, while not explicitly focused on games, allows you to take classes in an adjacent games-specific graduate program. Often these related programs grant MFAs, but they normally involve some game studies classes .
Before applying to these programs, be certain to inquire with the faculty you are matter to in working with about whether it is potential to combine coursework from your family department with classes from these related games programs .
University of Southern California – Ph.D. in Media Arts + Practice
Take courses in : synergistic Media and Games Division
University of Southern California – Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies
Take courses in : interactional Media and Games Division
New York University – Ph.D. in Media, Culture, and Communication ( besides listed under Option 1 above )
Take courses in : NYU Game Center and Integrated Digital Media
UCLA – Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies
Take courses in : design Media Arts ( UCLA Gamelab )
OPTION 3: Pick a Ph.D. Program That Supports Interdisciplinary Digital Scholarship
The third base choice is to make your own way by picking a Ph.D. that supports interdisciplinary research and will allow you to tailor your education toward your concern in games. ideally, this will be a program that has an explicit connect to digital media, as this will give you access to scholars and colleagues similarly committed to refer concerns around contemporary engineering .
The top to this option is that you get to be the architect of your own scholarly formation. Who do you want to be ? You decide ! The downside is that you will need to do the extra legwork to read wide outside your coursework and build a network of mentors from other institutions .
Brown University – Ph.D. in Modern Culture and Media
Concordia University – Individualized Program Ph.D. ( INDI )
( Concordia ’ s INDI academic degree has besides been included above in the section on game studies faculty. )
Game studies staff : Mia Consalvo, Sandra Gabriele, Rilla Khaled
Rutgers University – Ph.D. in Communication, Information, and Library Studies

Simon Frasier University – Ph.D. in Interactive Arts & Technology
UC Berkeley – Ph.D. in any field with Designated Emphasis in New Media
Berkeley Center for New Media
Whatever path you take toward your career in bet on studies, good luck! You bring an authoritative fresh set up of perspectives to video games, and the discipline is better for having you in it .

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