Commands and Colors: Ancients (2006), a board wargame by Richard Borg that simulates historical battles and some of the difficulties faced by commanders attempting to impose strategy on a battlefield
Dr Glen Spoors
Lecturer, Games Design and Culture
Faculty of Education & Arts
Merging personal creative interests and academic research
Like many Arts students I entered university not entirely certain where I wanted to end up. I knew that I wanted to develop my own writing and music, but owing to a deeply critical attitude I also wanted to learn more about philosophy and culture. I subsequently pursued a double major in Cultural Studies and Creative Writing, supporting myself with work at the university library.
My studies provided me with the intellectual framework I wanted, helped me to refine my writing, and afforded me the pleasure of studying the popular books, films and TV that had shaped me. However, working creatively within an institutional framework emphasised that expressing oneself in a personal symbolic language is very different from analysing the world in a formal language. The tension between the two proved both vexing and intriguing, but reconciling my creative and critical imperatives proved to be a valuable consequence of my degree.
After my Honours in Media Studies, one of my lecturers spotted me working at the university library and suggested I enrol as a postgraduate student. I began my Masters, which I soon upgraded to a PhD, studying meaning and emotion in computer gameplay. My PhD was a serendipitous convergence of many old and new interests. On the one hand, I re-engaged with my childhood interests in myth, fantasy and role-playing games, as well as my teenage obsessions with playing and programming computer games. On the other hand, I employed narratological analysis, which combined my passion for the subtleties of language with the calm, dissecting pleasures of reason. I also expanded my theoretical understanding of psychology and emotion, which helped me to puzzle through the phenomena I was studying as well as a few remaining mysteries about myself.
To support my PhD I tutored at ECU across a range of Communications units. This was often exhausting and left me wondering if I was investing in the right career - especially when it required juggling library work, being a research assistant, going to conferences, and getting experience lecturing and coordinating units. Fortunately, my PhD topic and the growing popular and academic interest in gaming converged, and when a Game Design and Culture major was created I was asked to write units for it. I soon found myself one of the few people qualified to take up a full time position lecturing in that area.
Persevering in a profession with an absurdly long apprenticeship has meant that I now find myself in one of the only positions I can imagine that would support my diverse academic, technical and creative interests. At the moment I am pursuing some strands of my PhD research, exploring different aspects of game media and culture. My current project involves looking at players relationships to the artefacts of analogue and digital gaming media.