Critical Distance: Keywords in Play

Keywords in Play Episode 10 - Thi Nguyen

March 12, 2021

C. Thi Nguyen is a former food writer, now a philosophy professor at University of Utah. He writes about trust, art, games, and communities, and is interested in the ways that our social structures and technologies shape how we think and what we value.

His first book is Games: Agency as Art. It’s about how games are the art form that work in the medium of agency. A game designer doesn’t just create a world – they create who we are in that world. Games shape temporary agencies for artistic purposes. And games turn out to be our way of writing down and communicating modes of agency; by playing them, we can try out different forms of agency.  (Here’s a summary of the book and Thi's website is https://objectionable.net/.)

“Keywords in Play” is a monthly interview series about game research supported by Critical Distance and the Digital Games Research Association. As a joint venture, “Keywords in Play” expands Critical Distance’s commitment to innovative writing and research about games while using a conversational style to bring new and diverse scholarship to a wider audience.

Our goal is to highlight the work of graduate students, early career researchers and scholars from under-represented groups, backgrounds and regions. The primary inspiration comes from sociologist and critic Raymond Williams. In the Preface to his book Keywords: a vocabulary of culture and society, Williams envisaged not a static dictionary but an interactive document, encouraging readers to populate blank pages with their own keywords, notes and amendments. “Keywords in Play” follows Williams in affirming that “The significance is in the selection”, and works towards diversifying the critical terms with which we describe games and game culture. For more on games writing and culture please visit https://www.critical-distance.com/

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