ITU appoints Denmark’s first professor in computer games

The IT University of Copenhagen has appointed Espen Aarseth Professor of Game Studies, a field he has played a significant role in establishing. On Tuesday, April 4, he will share his take on the state of computer games research and the still unanswered questions about the impact of games on our lives.

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Espen Aarseth has been a researcher at ITU since 2003. The same year, he co-founded the world's first research center dedicated entirely to digital games, Center for Computer Games Research. Already in 2001, ITU had organized the world's first international conference on computer games, and around the same time, researchers from ITU were involved in starting the field's first academic journal.

With its strategic focus on computer games research, ITU has played an important role in the development of games research as an independent academic field. A field that has become much more established and recognized since the first tentative steps in the beginning of the millennium, says Espen Aarseth.

"Today there are perhaps 50 different conferences and journals about game research, we have education programmes in games, and there is an international research culture that gives games researchers much better opportunities to get support and network than what we had back then," says Espen Aarseth.

Many unanswered questions
There are, however, still plenty of unanswered questions about how computer games affect us, Espen Aarseth continues.

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There is a great need in society to understand how computer games work for good and bad, and what they do and don’t do.

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"There is a great need in society to understand how computer games work for good and bad, and what they do and don’t do. Do games lead to violence, aggression, addiction, learning, better health, and so on? There are many questions about how games affect us that we have asked ourselves for 35 years and which still have not been answered well enough. "

The only way we can learn more about the effects of video games is through getting experts in for instance sociology, pedagogy, psychology and technology to work together, Espen Aarseth believes. For this reason, interdisciplinarity is a key element of his new research project Making Sense of Games, which aims to create the first comprehensive theory of computer games.

Games are different
In this research project, he and his colleagues are attempting to come up with a basic description of digital games that will give researchers and others dealing with games a common starting point. The diversity of digital games is one of the major challenges in unlocking the meaning of computer games, explains Espen Aarseth.

"There are so many different types of games, and they cannot possibly have the same effect. Tetris is quite different from World of Warcraft, and those two are quite different from Pokémon GO. It is a huge, diverse field that we currently do not have adequate concepts for understanding," he says.

Inaugural professorial lecture on April 4
In his inaugural lecture 'Game Research at ITU: Achievements, Goals and Grand Challenges' Espen Aarseth will outline the current state of games research. The lecture takes place on Tuesday, April 4 from 2-3.30 pm in Auditorium 3 at ITU. Everyone is welcome. Read more.

Further information

Espen Aarseth, Associate Professor, phone 7218 5045, email aarseth@itu.dk

Vibeke Arildsen, Press Officer, phone 2555 0447, email viar@itu.dk