Loud laughter echoed from the room and enthusiastic conversations drifted through the halls of UNC’s Media Art Space last Friday. Despite a rivalry, dozens of like-minded individuals from UNC and Duke came to discuss their shared passion for gaming.
The gaming scholars and artists gathered for the first-ever UNC-Duke Critical Games Symposium.
Graduate students at both universities presented their work and research regarding the critical study and practice of video games at the UNC Department of Communication's event.
Victoria Szabo, symposium co-organizer and a visual and media studies professor at Duke University, and her collaborator Joyce Rudinsky, a professor of media production at UNC, said they have been planning to host this event for a long time.
They said they believe COVID-19 has disconnected people interested in the field from each other, and aspire to create a place where those interested in game development and analysis can participate in meaningful industry conversations.
“We wanted people to just come together and talk about what they're doing in order to get to know each other and to get to know the possibilities,” Szabo said. “Because there's so much overlap and interest in our campuses in this topic.”
The presentations covered topics ranging from racist stereotypes in video games to the use of games and virtual reality to train soldiers and help them recover from trauma.
Josh Youakim, a doctoral student in the communications department at UNC, delivered a presentation about the modification and customization of gaming consoles and how that might affect the gaming industry.
He said video games are something that really captures people’s attention and events like the symposium are an opportunity to demonstrate the unique value of the video game industry.