What if my son or daughter only wants to play video games?

Trinity University philosophy professor Andrew Kania and student Daniel Conrad

by Susie P. Gonzalez —

From the time my first-born could hold a joystick, he was chasing Mario, mastering Tetris, and sneaking in M-rated video games that made me question my parenting skills when I ultimately discovered those verboten items stashed under the console. I worried that, as a teen-ager, all he seemed to do was sit in front of a television monitor or computer and play video games. I often mused, “Where will that take him in life?” Thankfully, he also discovered basketball and books and went on to become an excellent student at Trinity University.

Still, I sympathize with other parents who complain, “All my kid wants to do is play video games!” At Trinity this summer, Daniel Conrad ’18 is actually combining his love of video games with academic research. With funding from the Mellon Initiative for humanities research, Conrad is studying the philosophy of video games. He hopes to present his findings at research conferences in the coming year and ultimately publish them.

Conrad’s research also will be incorporated into a Philosophy of Film course that philosophy professor Andrew Kania will teach this fall.

I learned about Conrad’s work through another blog that Trinity publishes, Experiential Learning, which highlights undergraduate research. The writer, Allyson Mackender, is a Denver native who is entering her senior year at Trinity. An English major, she says that Trinity’s curriculum has allowed her to pursue academic interests from geoscience to anthropology to economics.

Trinity University philosophy professor Andrew Kania and student Daniel Conrad
Trinity University student researcher Daniel Conrad discusses findings with professor Andrew Kania
Here is an excerpt of Conrad’s story, in the student blogger’s words:

Although video games are at the center of Conrad’s research, his academic foundation lies in philosophical discussion of art and aesthetics. Conrad’s article will be in response to a previous essay that claims if something is art it cannot be a game and vice versa. Conrad hopes to disprove this theory, proving that games can, and in some cases should, be considered art. In order to do this, Conrad needs to explore the ontology of games. Put simply, Conrad will consider what it means for something to be a game and to be an artwork, a task that is harder than it may initially seem. In fact, professor Kania chuckled when asked to define any terms important to the research, as that is the goal he and Conrad are attempting to achieve by completing this project.

The study of the philosophy of video games is a rather new and innovative field that has grown with the industry. Conrad explained that the significance of his research is founded in the cultural importance of video games. "The video game industry is massive and continuously growing," Conrad claimed, making any research on the topic important to our cultural understanding of media.

To read the entire blog post, click here. Conrad’s work so far makes me believe that there can be merit to video games.

And my son? He is now gainfully employed in the banking industry. And he still plays video games.

About Susie

Susie P. Gonzalez, senior manager of public relations at Trinity, can be reached at susie.gonzalez@trinity.edu or @susiegonz.


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