The National Museum of Science and Technology’s project The Worlds of Computer Games involves three researchers with different backgrounds studying the social aspects of the use of computer games. Our aim with this project is to understand how the characteristics of computer games and their use are connected in order to get a picture of what influence computer games are having on culture and social life.
Altogether, the world’s gamers spend some 3 billion hours per week on gaming. This corresponds to 342,465 years of human experience – per week. By the age of 21, an average gamer has spent 10,000 hours playing computer games, which is more hours than a primary and secondary school education put together. Today, computer games are not a marginal phenomenon – quite the contrary. Gaming is a central cultural form, an integral part of the majority of human beings’ lives and everyday existences. Computer games attract people of all ages, regardless of gender or social background. Smartphones have opened up a whole new world for game creators and players.
But while their use is skyrocketing, computer games continue to be much debated. There are concerns about computer games: that they disrupt children’s school work, social life and acquisition of skills; that they are addictive and influence young people’s values through warped representations of gender, power and violence; and that they exploit unpaid intellectual work and have payment models that parents sometimes find it difficult to manage and control.
A part of a wider initiative
The National Museum of Science and Technology has begun a new collection and documentation project, The Worlds of Computer Games. Its purpose is to use a broad approach to shed light on gaming from the innovation perspective, the producer perspective, and the user perspective.
Game research is an interdisciplinary field and this research is being carried out across a range of topics and disciplines. In order to narrow down and develop knowledge about the most relevant issues, we have brought individuals who carry out research on computer games and gaming into the Museum’s collection and exhibition project.
We are interested in knowing more about games and gaming as social and cultural phenomena, and the overall aim is to study the use of games from the social perspective. It is through studying actual gaming practitioners that we can understand how the characteristics of computer games and their use are connected in order to get a picture of what influence computer games are having on culture and social life.
Three parallel studies are being conducted:
- Gamers – those who play the games
- Gaming Culture – the social context in which games exists in Sweden today
- Games – interaction with games and the narratives that games present and what gamers take home from them.