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The UK's premier new media criminologist - on Twitter @criminology4u, facebook and blogging on Criminology in Public and Sports Criminology.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Play Ethic bigs up my videogames work

On the Play Ethic blog I’ve been done the enormous honour of a full engagement with my work on (video)games and criminology. This is by way of a response.

I came to criminology late having first gone to teacher training college then getting stuck in the Home Office for nearly 20 years as an administrator/policy person. I might cite the emphasis on play in child development that the Froebel College gave as an inspiration. I did some sociology there but couldn’t see my future teaching primary children – though I did help at my son’s primary school.

My parents were a fraction off conventional and whilst I loved learning, still do, hated school with its petty rules. The Head said I grew a beard I said it grew, secondary sexual characteristic, I just not good at or inclined to cut it. Still have beard or stumble as can’t often be bothered to shave and no good at it – curly follicles.

Through education, thank you OU, I now find myself teaching criminology and media at Uni. As part-timer in non-research intensive college I can research whatever access to computer permits or serendipity prompts. My son is interested in computer games, we discuss them and I’ve tried them but not over keen – my vice is writing.

I was aware from both criminology and media that games were that latest thing – from a translated Bible, US horror comics to women attending University – to have been blamed by sections of the media and the moralistas for the end of the known Universe being trundled of to Hell in a cliché. Much of this was poorly conducted politically motivated psycho bollocks but clearly some effects were evident – if only their attraction.

Sometimes the shocked commentator would allude to the amount of sex or crime (and indeed sex crime) in the games as if that enough to condemn them. Some criminologists had started to look at internet crime and even in communities in cyberspace, but none at the actual criminal content or even the rule-based nature of these games and third spaces. My paper attempts to kick start the process but does so ludicly. The lack of ‘academic’ rigour meant a rewrite before it could be published but two versions are online to compare at my site (closer to the first draft called JPlod after our constables and Douglas Coupland’s novel) and on BSC website.

The paper and response also talk about joyriding – the subject of my PhD – and I’m going to return to it for a conference presentation this year. It seems that the practice still continues, the media still use the term but seems less exercised by it now but little has been written theoretically about it. There is, though, a developing sociology of mobility which takes in auto(mobility) so I shall enjoy playing with that.

Obviously as a car driver of nearly 40 years I am ambivalent about cars but the green and safety arguments usually keep my joydriving (as the ads promise) in check.

I also see some playfulness in the battles against CCTV, the avoidance or accommodation strategies of those under its gaze and even in the joystick heaven that is a full 40 screen digital colour tilt, pan and zoom system. We’ll leave side that the money might be spent better.

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