28th Feb 2023 - Dissertation and Project Contemplation
As a preparation for a first dissertation meeting with my supervisor, I note my expectations, thoughts and questions here.
My expectations towards the research project
- Foremost, I am absurdly grateful to have this chance, being able to work on this topic and in such a configuration. My most important expectation is, that the project lets me keep up this spirit for the next four years
- I want to be able to profit from the interdisciplinarity. In my experience, that aspect is tough, but doable. It means effort on all sides, and sometimes this effort has to be decided on by management
- In a best case scenario, the project becomes a stronghold for more difficult times. A place where I can retreat into, and get support, when shit hits the fan (stress and anxities, academic problems)
How can my supervisor support me?
- I can deal with critique, most of the time :) Please be direct and constructive.
- Coming from practice-based research, I’ll need guidance with the humanities part of academic knowledge work. I am a noob considering conferences, publishing procedures, and these kinds of things. I guess I got the reading and writing part by now
- Topic-wise, I’m also a noob concerning theories and methods in historical research. I know that these things are important for me, but I don’t see our respective interfaces right now
- At times, I am too uncritical, engaging things for their practicalities and having a blind spot for weaknesses. I could use some support in critical thinking
Direction of my dissertation
Within the research group I’m part of, I hold two positions:
- PhD student with an independent dissertation
- PhD researcher on History of Visual Design of Early Swiss Video Games, defined as such
The aim of this dissertation project is a historiography of graphic design in the games developed in Switzerland during the observed period. By focusing on the visual rhetoric and the iconography of the games, (trans)national historical continuities and transmedial influences are to be elaborated on the one hand. The aim is to create a critical catalogue of visual design that enables us to recognize connections and discrepancies. But the aim is also to work out the creative means that determine design. The loading screen of the text adventure game Züri (1992), for example, is oriented quite closely to the motif of the tourist city panorama, while the construction game Traders (1991) uses a comic style that is rather unusual for the genre. To what extent can local influences be identified in the graphic style, interface but also in the packaging and advertising in computer journals?
The goals for the researching position would be:
- A database will be created with images from the game but also from the paratexts (box, advertisement, etc).
- These images will then be analyzed with the tools of Rhetorical Design Analysis and compared to other dominant graphical sources in Swiss popular culture.
My own position as a PhD student is somewhere at the intersection of
- Digital Humanities (especially with my background in software development)
- Design Research (research style and methodologies through my former studies)
- Video Game Studies (given through the project)
I have the feeling, as of right now, that this intersection is huge and I’m not very sure, where exactly I want to stand. That said, I know that I don’t want to solely make a rhetoric analysis of the image material. My background as a software developer is too valuable in the light of the particularities of the image in video games. Given the state of literature I could observe by now as well as that video games as cultural heritage is a rather young approach, I’d say that emulation, virtualization and preservation are things I want to have a good look at. Although I don’t know, how to get from there to the image of video games.
Do I need to consider having my dissertation about something completely else? As in, purely speculative, the non-human representation in video games?
Questions and thoughts
- Practicalities: Cummulative dissertation and studies
- What does the project expect of me?
- Timing, especially since studies take up a lot of time for the first year. A kind of project planning for the comming month?
- How many liberties do I have in my own dissertation in regard to the researching position?
- There is a lot of great stuff going on in Montréal. What is the opinion on a semester abroad?
- How will the dissertation form my outlook on postdocs?
- Database: general questions about the who and where and what?
- Participation DiGRA Sevilla, and besides, what else is recommended?
- Opinion on ZFF CfP Digital Born Objects?