One of the leading and most prolific game scholars, Dr. Scott Nicholson, associate professor at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies, recently wrapped up his popular Boardgames with Scott video blog series to move onto other endeavors: pursuing other scholarly projects related to games and contributing his academic insights to Boardgameinfo.com.
Dr. Nicholson’s Boardgames with Scott series ran for five years and produced 70 videos during which the jovial game enthusiast honestly evaluates game contents, offers an overview of game rules, and gives his opinion on who might best enjoy the particular kind of gameplay. Each episode provides a firsthand look at games people might want to try playing. All 70 videos remain archived on the Boardgames with Scott for future reference; regrettably Dr. Nicholson won’t produce any more, but he remains involved in gaming scholarship through venues accessible to everyone online.
For an example of his more academic work with games, check out the Gaming in Libraries course Dr. Nicholson produced and offered online in June 2009. The video “classes” examine various elements of running games at libraries, both traditional “analog” games with boards and pieces, and “digital” games on computers and electronic gaming consoles. The website archives all 22 classes (plus several follow-up videos). Even for those who aren’t interested in running gaming programs at libraries, the course shines a light on aspects of gaming players don’t often consciously consider but which remain part of one’s gaming experience. Dr. Nicholson took the scholarship developed for the course and expanded on it in a book, Everyone Plays at the Library.
Dr. Nicholson now publishes new material at BoardGameInfo.com as “The Game Professor,” one of several series exclusive to the site. In his video introduction, Dr. Nicholson outlines his hopes to use this feature to showcase how board game design can serve as an educational tool and offer a forum to present aspects of his current scholarship regarding gaming. Thus far his contributions have consisted of two posts, “Games and Game Experiences” and “The Cult of the New and Game Design Implications,” plus links to videos featuring several of Dr. Nicholson’s academic presentations.
Dr. Nicholson’s presentations -- whether in text or video, game overview or course lecture -- bring the scholarship of game design and experience to a level everyone can understand. Many concepts bring his audience to some realization about games, a subtlety just below the surface of the conscious game experience but one that makes perfect sense. For instance, in “Games and Game Experiences,” when confronted with the question of his favorite games, he explains it’s not simply the physical game in the box that matters, but a “game experience,” in his words, “a combination of the game, the players, and the context in which the game is played.” It’s a simple concept, but one gamers don’t always consciously realize; and when players bear this in mind, they can take it into account in improving their own game experience.
BoardGameInfo.com seems like a newer website providing news, articles, and reviews of board games; at first glance it seems to have a similar mission as Boardgamegeek.com, though with decidedly different approaches. At the very least it provides a venue for Dr. Nicholson to share his valuable scholarly insights into the world of board games with the general, internet public.