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Games Studies Working Group

In recent years, video games have begun to outpace the film, music, and publishing industries in terms of profits and cultural impact. The Games Studies Research Group considers how people in different disciplines approach games as a subject of study, with faculty learning as much from each other as from the literature in this emerging trans-disciplinary field

Rachael Hutchinson is associate professor of Japanese Studies and co-founder of the Game Studies Research Group at the University of Delaware. She received her D.Phil. from the University of Oxford in 2000, and her research addresses representations of Japanese identity in literature, film, manga and videogames. She co-edited Representing the Other in Modern Japanese Literature: A Critical Approach (Routledge, 2007), authored Nagai Kafu's Occidentalism: Defining the Japanese Self (SUNY Press, 2011) and edited Negotiating Censorship in Modern Japan (Routledge, 2013). She has published in Japan Forum, Monumenta Nipponica and Games and Culture. Her innovative work on the binary combat (or fighting genre) of games led to her involvement in the University of Hong Kong ‘Virtual Realities’ workshop in 2010 and the UC Berkeley ‘World Craft’ symposium in 2011. Teaching games in her courses since 2009, she is currently using data gathered from the Games Lab at UD to write an article on student reactions to race and gender stereotypes in Japanese fighting games. Her next book explores the significance of games to Japanese Studies, using case studies such as Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid to analyze Japanese cultural attitudes towards nuclear power, childhood abandonment and historical memory.

Phillip Penix-Tadsen specializes in Latin American cultural studies, focusing on the intersections between politics, economics, new media, and visual culture in the region today. He earned a Ph.D. from Columbia University with the doctoral thesis Marketing Marginality: Resistance and Commodification in Contemporary Latin American Cultural Production, which focuses on a spectrum of media spanning literature, film, journalism, political discourse, graffiti, television, blogs, and viral videos. He has published work in journals including Latin American Research Review and Ciberletras. His current book project, Cultural Code: Video Games and Latin America, examines the ways video games use culture as well as how cultures use video games, pushing for a more nuanced theoretical contextualization of the dynamics between the two through case studies related to Latin America.

Daniel L. Chester is an associate professor in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at the University of Delaware. He received his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, all in Math, from the University of California at Berkeley. He has published numerous papers on artificial intelligence in various proceedings, journals and books. The topics of these papers include natural language parsing, text generation, expert systems (particularly in connection with on-line fault analysis in a chemical processing plant), robotics, analogical reasoning, optimization, neural networks, software development, and bar chart and line graph analysis. He frequently writes reviews for the ACM publication Computing Reviews. He is a co-inventor on six patents. He is currently consultant to two startup companies, one of which he co-founded. Related to this consultant work, the book Optimal Automated Process Fault Analysis, which he co-authored, will be published in January 2013.

Dr. Chester is associate chair of the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at the University of Delaware. He is currently working on projects that combine computer vision and natural language processing, including the understanding of charts and diagrams and associated text, and in applying artificial intelligence methodology to game theory. He is working with a student on efficiently generating strategy programs to make computers be entertaining opponents in games where both the human player and the computer move simultaneously, which is more applicable to modern video games than the approaches used for the more traditional turn-based games. His research in the last five years is unfunded.

Juliet Dee is an associate professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Delaware. She teaches courses in First Amendment law, mass communication and culture, broadcast news writing, and television production. She has been director of the Legal Studies Program at the University of Delaware, and has been an editor of the Free Speech Yearbook, and is a co-author of Mass Communication Law in a Nutshell (2007). She received her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, her master’s degree from Northwestern University, and her doctorate from Temple University. She has published articles or book chapters on First Amendment issues involving controversial artwork funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, copyright infringement, anonymous defamation on the Internet, objectionable lyrics in rock music and hip-hop, media liability for violent content, media liability for classified ads for hitmen, and the issue of cyberbullying and the First Amendment. She has also published articles or book chapters on landmark Supreme Court cases such as Whitney v. California (1927), Near v. Minnesota (1931), and the “penumbra metaphor” that became a basis for landmark Supreme Court decisions on privacy. During the 2009-2010 academic year, she directed the senior honors thesis for Helen Wolf, entitled “Public Opinion Regarding the Role of Government in Regulating Violent Video Games."

Jennifer (Jenny) Lambe is acting chair and associate professor in the Communication Department at the University of Delaware, and a senior fellow with the Center for Political Communication. She received her Ph.D. in Journalism & Mass Communication from the University of Minnesota in 2000. Her research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of media effects, freedom of expression, and media ethics. As this relates to game studies, Lambe is interested in the positive and negative effects of gaming on individuals, groups, and society, and the ways in which these effects are redressed by various forms of regulation.

In terms of media effects, she is interested in the effectiveness of games that are developed with pro-social intentions, and in the negative effects of video game content such as stereotyping of race and gender, the inclusion of advertising in the storyline of games, and the presence of explicit and gratuitous sexual and violent content. Communication research has established that games are unique among other forms of media in that the individuals engaged with the game are actively participating in the action, which amplifies the games' effects.

Lambe is also interested in attempts to regulate video games in the United States and around the world. Traditionally, conceptions of media responsibility and the proper role of government in relation to media have been nation-bound. But in today’s interconnected world, this model is being challenged. Lambe plans to explore industry self-regulation and government regulation of video games in various countries.

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