(1) I’m not going to bother to write a thorough prose response to your recent Escapist article Quibus Lusoribus Bono? Who is Game Studies Good For?, but only numbered objections and comments. Readers, you’ll have to go read Travis’s article before any of these will make sense.
(2) Your article is based on the premise that Douglas Wilson looks down his nose at gamers. Yet, what he actually claims is that the concept of gamers, the notion of a “gamer” as a demographic category is odious. I’ve written about this too. If you want to object to that claim, you need to write another article.
(3) Since you call me out in particular, I’m wondering how you can back up lumping me into the camp of those “pursuing game studies to the detriment of gamer culture,” given my constant, at least sometimes successful attempts to defend and support the medium in the popular and trade press. I tend to get at least a modicum of respect for it among real gamers and real game developers.
(4) You write the following: “By pretending that game studies stands alone as a unified discipline rather than at the nexus of various other fields, scholars of game studies … are institutionalizing … antipathy to the real culture of gaming.” A considerable portion of my first book and my other writings object to the very idea that game studies stands alone. You cite a three-year-old prolegomenon by Aarseth, one meant as a provocation (something he’s known for), and decide to attribute it to all game scholars. You make a “plea to gamers to turn the tables on Aarseth and other doyens of game studies” (myself included). Many (most?) of us already have done work to turn those very tables. Do you actually read any game studies scholarship?
(5) Nobody at my institution teaches a class called “Game Studies 101” or is a “professor of game studies.” Nor is Aaresth for that matter. Nor Henry Jenkins. Nobody at my institution wants “all … their students to be game developers.” In fact, I made a similar objection to the “game studies as savior discipline” issue you attribute to all game scholars (“they want them to distance themselves from gamers and develop serious games, with the “fun” part left out”), in the article I cited above.
(6) What is the point of the citation and mention of my work on “persuasive games?” Is it meant to support your claim that “game studies focus[es] on design?” Did you read my book on the subject? Can you show me the part of it where I claim design to be its primary goal? And if there is a design merit to the book (I think there is in part), so what? How does this relate to Aarseth’s claim that “Game design will have to unite the insights from [various fields]”? Where do I make that claim in my work?
(7) The claim we made in an article you cite, that “You must make games to study them, and you must study games to make them” is indeed provocative. The sense here is this: game scholars ought to understand the fundamental structures and construction of games to study them well; likewise, game developers ought to understand the various critical approaches to games to aid in their creation. You’re a classicist: the former point is like saying that learning scansion and the idiosyncrasies of the Ionic dialect aids in the study of Homer; the latter is akin to arguing that students studying poetry as creative writing can benefit from reading criticism about the poets that inspire them.
(8) The really sad thing about all of this is that fundamentally I think we agree. It’s too bad this is the way you decided to engage the subject.