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Literature, Philosophy, and Games

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Daniel Vella shares his passion for game research

Alu_DanielVellaI first developed an interest in cultural studies through studying film and literature during my B.Comms. (Hons)(Melit.). In 2008, my eyes were opened by an introductory course to Game Studies run by the Department of English. In 2009, I enrolled in the Department’s Masters programme in Modern and Contemporary Literature and Criticism. The Masters programme gave me the opportunity to continue studying literature while focusing my thesis on the analysis of imagery in digital games.

I graduated in November 2010. I knew I wanted to continue to a Ph.D. in Game Studies. Over the following year, while striving to put together a Ph.D. research application, I taught English at the Malta University Language School and wrote scripts for a children’s television show on PBS. I also took part in my first Game Studies Conference in Athens, which gave me my first glimpse of the international game studies community. 

I submitted my Ph.D. application to the IT University of Copenhagen, a world leader in game studies research. It was successful, and in February 2012 aided by a Malta Arts Scholarship award, I moved to Copenhagen to begin three years of study. 

My research is about subjectivity in games. I use philosophy and literary theory to look at questions like: ‘who is the “I” that the player is playing in a game?’ ‘Can games be used as a way for the player to explore different identities and characters?’ Besides my research, I also teach a course entitled ‘Foundations of Play and Games’ to Masters students. 

Continuing my studies abroad has brought me into contact with many leading figures in my field. It opened me to new perspectives and ideas from fellow researchers. I have had the opportunity to present my work at several international conferences, from Finland to the USA, and I have just returned from a three-month research stay at the School of Creative Media in Hong Kong. 

While I was abroad I kept in touch with the University of Malta, helping to organise and contribute to the Games and Literary Theory conference held here last year.

This article forms part of The Gaming Issue

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