a Sociological Video game Review
Sociologists collect data by conducting surveys, observational studies, and experiments. They also scavenge existing data, collecting evidence of social patterns in newspapers, diaries, and historical archives.
Why not look for sociological data in video games? Video games are as much a human product as, say, newspapers are. Because they are made by and about people in particular social and historical contexts, video games can tell us a lot about typical patterns of inequality, ways of raising children, form of deviance, and just about all other aspects of social life. In fact, because video games are easily accessible, relatively inexpensive, and often a lot of fun, they are in many ways an ideal sociological data resource for undergraduates.
Video games, especially American video games, are arguably the most popular and influential part of popular culture. Studying video games can show students that fresh sociological insights can be gleaned even from one of the most taken-for-granted elements of their everyday world.
Below are the steps you should take in selecting a video game to review, what to watch for and think about from a sociological angle while reviewing the video game, and finally, how to write your review. You can review a movie from sociological theory (conflict, functionalist, or symbolic interaction- see chapter 1), or thematic points of view such as socialization, social institutions, deviance, class, race, technological innovations or politics. In any case, as the reviewer you can apply different concepts drawn from our textbook and or class discussions.
How to review video games from a Sociological Perspective:
You can review a video game from sociological, literary, historical, dramatic, technical, philosophical, artistic or other points of view. In each case, the reviewer applies different evaluative criteria drawn from different disciplinary perspectives.
The sociological perspective suggests at least five criteria for evaluating video games, any one or more of which may be highlighted in a review:
- How does the video game reflect its social context?
- How does the video game distort social reality?
- What is one common or universal social problem displayed in the video game?
- What is one clear sociological concept you identified in the video game (deviance, classism, racism, sexism, political constructs, etc.)?
- To what degree does the video game connect to a particular social class, political idea, social structure, and history?
When you select a video game to review, make sure that it gives you the opportunity to illustrate clear sociological perspectives. Use one or more of the five criteria listed above to help you choose a video game and a theme for your review.
More than that, you should try to see beyond the obvious. Accordingly, when you write a video game review, you should use your sociological imagination to spot issues and themes that will allow the reader to see the world in a new way – as a place where social influences that may be hidden to people as they go about their everyday lives deeply influence the way they live. All else the same, the difference between a good and an excellent review may be that an excellent review contains more sociological surprises.
Writing Your Review:
Now that you have selected the video game you want to review and watched it bearing in mind the evaluative criteria listed above, you are ready to begin writing your review.
Your review should have a title page specifying the title of the video game you are reviewing and your name. The title page should be followed by the body of the review. Full citations should appear in a separate References section at the end. Use the standard Chicago citation style (see http://library.osu.edu/sites/guides/chicagogd.php).
- Story, Dialogue, Action!
Video games tell stories, and so should your review. Dialogue and action bring stories to life, and you can increase your readers’ interest by revealing snippets of dialogue and describing the action that takes place during important scenes. These narrative elements are especially effective when used in the introductory paragraphs because they help to engage the reader. Remember, though, that your job is not to tell the whole story of the video game but to focus on aspects of sociological relevance. Don’t let the video game’s narrative control you; use the video game to tell your sociological story.
The main body of your review – all but the introductory and concluding paragraphs – should develop your sociological argument. This is where you tell the reader about the sociological significance of the video game, applying one or more of the five criteria listed above. Roughly two-thirds of the review should be devoted to this purpose.
A summary paragraph should concisely state your main conclusion and leave the reader with something to think about after he or she finishes reading the review. You may provoke the reader by asking a telling question, identifying an intriguing paradox or mentioning an unresolved issue.
- Don’t Forget
Your review should be grammatical and you should always use correct spelling and punctuation. But beyond these obvious requirements, remember that it always pays to write in a straightforward way. Employ sociological terms from the course. Use the spell check and grammar check features of your word processing program. Read and re-read your review. Then read it again. You can always improve it.