Disciplinary Identity of Game Scholars: An Outline

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There has been academic research work directed at games and play for decades, but the field has been somewhat scattered, and around the turn of the millennium the idea of establishing a new discipline, dedicated to the study of games in their own right gained prominence. The conference, journal and other publication activity in games research has expanded during the last decade, but it remains unclear how many contemporary academics working on games could be seen to represent a unified group, sharing a common disciplinary identity. This paper reports the first results from an international survey (valid n = 544), carried out among the DiGRA mailing list subscribers, as well as among the members of ECREA and ICA games research groups, aimed at probing the background education, orientation and academic practices of games researchers. The findings highlight the great diversity of educational backgrounds and of the current self-identified research fields, but also the dynamic interdisciplinary changes from one field to another, and how strong the identification as a “digital games researcher” is among the survey respondents.