After an enriching and eventful year as a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies, I’ll be joining Simon Fraser University as Assistant Professor in the School of Communication. The School of Communication has a strong critical tradition with strengths in the study of media and culture, technology and society, as well as communication policy and political economy. Notably, the School has been an intellectual home to critical games scholars such as Stephen Kline, who co-authored the seminal Digital Play: the Interaction of Technology, Culture, and Marketing with Nick Dyer-Witheford and Greig de Peuter, who earned their PhDs from the School of Communication and in turn co-wrote the field-defining Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games. Other faculty who research games include Dal Yong Jin and Milena Droumeva.
My role as Assistant Professor will involve refinement of the research program initiated during my PhD and developed during my postdoc. I will continue my work on the structures of feeling that underscore the professionalisation of gaming hobbies, focussing on tactics and strategies for crafting an ethical approach to leisure to counter and redirect prevailing narratives about the future of work. In collaboration with other researchers of geek hobbies and media fandoms, I plan to organise a research network on Digital Leisure after the Work Society. This will facilitate ethnographic fieldwork of the indie game development scene in Vancouver, where the analysis of transforming trajectories of professional development will inform insights for economically and emotionally sustainable livelihoods in creative industries such as game production.
In addition to scholarly collaboration, the goal of such a network would be to engage local publics and policy makers in discussions about what creativity can and should look like in a future where production is increasingly automated, datafied, and casualized. These goals align with Simon Fraser University’s strategic vision of The Engaged University, which unites teaching and research priorities with community and public concerns. Digital Leisure after the Work Society would also draw on the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology’s strengths in interaction design and ethnography of media.
It’s fitting that this research on creative industries should be pursued at Simon Fraser University (SFU). The main campus in Burnaby (east of Vancouver) was designed by architect Arthur Charles Erickson as a group of horizontal modernist structures in stark geometric forms that opened up into expansive mountain vistas. Because of this design, SFU’s Burnaby Campus has been a favourite location for science fiction films such as The Day the Earth Stood Still (starring Keanu Reeves) and TV shows such as Battlestar Galactica, Fringe, and The X-Files. I look forward to wandering through SFU’s concrete halls and atriums alongside today’s television casts and crews, looking over the shoulders of tomorrow’s creative workers into British Columbia’s green valleys and grey skies. I hope researchers from the Centre of Excellence Game Culture Studies can join me there for future collaborations and symposia.
Aleena Chia is Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. She was a postdoctoral researcher in the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies based at the Department of Music, Art and Culture Studies at the University of Jyväskylä from 2018 to 2019. She received her PhD in Communication and Culture from Indiana University in 2017.
- Chia, A. (2019) “The Moral Calculus of Vocational Passion in Digital Gaming.”. Television & New Media (Online First).
- Chia, A. (2019) “Virtual Lucidity: A Media Archaeology of Dream Hacking Wearables.” communication +1. 7(2)