I'm thrilled to announce the publication of my latest article, "The Uncredited: Work, Women, and the Making of the US Computer Game Industry," now available in the journal Feminist Media Histories. This article is a part of a special issue on feminist video game history, guest edited by Carly Kocurek, and includes articles and interviews by Amanda Phillips, Emma Vossen, Anastasia Salter, TreaAndrea M. Russworm and Samantha Blackmon, Phillip Penix-Tadsen, and Alenda Y. Chang (whose interview with Muriel Tramis, a Martinique game designer who worked at the Sierra subsidiary Coktel Vision, may also be of interest to Sierra fans).
I consider this work an intellectual and spiritual sequel to the first article I ever published, "A Pedestal, A Table, A Love Letter: Archaeologies of Gender in Videogame History," in Game Studies, December 2013. I think this piece illustrates my growth as a historian--a deepening of my engagement with my subject matter, and the centering of labor and political economy within my historical practice.
I will be giving a version of this talk at the Game Developer's Conference 2020, happening in March.
At the request of Twitter chatter, I'm posting my syllabus for my undergrad NYU class Video Games: Culture and Industry, which I teach as a course on the political economy of the industry. Scroll all the way down for the reading list!
In response to popular demand (at least among my Twitter followers) I'm sharing my syllabus and reading list for the senior seminar I'm teaching at New York University this fall semester. This is my first time teaching this course (so a work in progress), but reflects my efforts to produce an advanced undergraduate course grounding students in both the history of personal computing and historiographic practice. Course description below; reading list starts on page 4 of the PDF below.
How the Computer Became Personal
Across both academic and popular writing, the history of computing remains documented as a largely technological affair: the transformations in microprocessor technology that shrank machines from mainframes to desktops to mobile devices; the enhancements in storage capacity permitting ever more powerful digital tools; and the shifting graphical and audio capabilities that enable computers to render fully-realized 3D worlds and stunning special effects. The history of computing, by and large, has been a history of computers becoming smaller, faster and more powerful.
But technological change is only a small part of the drama of how we learned to live with computers. Focusing on the mid-1970s through the early-1990s—the period in which personal computing emerged as a dominant consumer medium in the Western world—this course approaches the history of computing from the orientation of cultural and social politics. In other words, how and in what ways did computers change everyday life?
To answer these questions, students will explore and report on computer enthusiast magazines from the 1980s; read several traditional “hagiographies” of early computing culture, including accounts from Xerox PARC, and the founding of Apple and Microsoft; practice challenging the methodological assumptions embedded in progressivist and teleological accounts of media; compile an annotated bibliography documenting their original archival research into everyday computing culture, including topics such as home productivity, telecommuting, portability, ergonomics, and peripherality; and experiment with alternative modes of historical representation in the course’s final project—an exhibition catalog for a hypothetical museum show that answers the course’s titular question: how did the computer become personal?