What Makes the Canon?

In many classes we can end up discussing the canon, what is and isn’t notable or what    accurately defines a time period or subculture in its’ work.   When researching we must take into account the credibility of sources, who said what, sources are important to figuring out how credible their information is. These are the kinds of works we read for classes, the ones that represent the canon whether it be in literature or in academic thinking. My question, because I honestly don’t know the answer, is; what defines a work as part of the “canon”?

I ask this for a very simple reason, as far as these articles we read for class such as Young, Black (& Brown) and Don’t Give a Fuck: Virtual Gangstas in the Era of State Violence” by David Leonard, they seem to think any game can be part of the canon of video games. That every game released enters into what represents the gaming industry as a whole. Now I am not criticizing this, if this is how canon works than that is fine, it just doesn’t seem to me that we judge all of literature on every single book published.

Now these articles for the most part center on GTA San Andreas, which is a fine example, the game is well known, actively played, and well reviewed. Though at the same time mention of 50 Cent: Blood Money is mentioned. Here is a game that was rarely played, not well known, and received very poor reviews. Does this game stand up to GTA? Is it fair to say that Blood Money has as much to do with the canon as GTA?

Last Semester Wheaton was visited by a Harvard Professor Robin Bernstein; she gave a fantastic lecture on racial portrayal in children’s literature. Though she began to talk about video games. In particular she talked about a game, which used blackface on an enemy in the game called “disturbing doll”.  Now I had never heard of this game before so I decided to look into this. (In her defense she had briefly discussed this game with a student in the past and was not a topic of her research). After some digging I found that the disturbing doll was from a fan-made video game RPG using the game RPG Maker. This game was not published, had no professionals developing it, and was not sold, only downloaded. Yet it is still a game, and so the question I ask is; is it part of the canon?

I personally wouldn’t want this game to be part of what represents gaming as a whole as under this logic anything could be used.  This is an extreme example, but in Leonard’s article he seemed fine with citing any game.  Now this might be just because it is the gaming world and no standard canon exists and everything is up to an opinion. Though if this logic holds true than proof can be given to almost any topic in video games.  To me this seems unfair and just a way to belittle the young and still developing gaming culture, and I would suggest to anyone that is reading scholarly works on games to look into the games that are being spoken on, play them, see if there is any validity to these notions as some scholars may feel they can write anything.

 

Work Cited

Leonard, David. “Young, Black (& Brown) and Don’t Give a Fuck Virtual Gangstas in the Era of State Violence.” Sage Journals 9.2 (2009): 248-72. Sage Journals. Web. 6 Oct. 2013. <http://csc.sagepub.com/content/9/2/248.full.pdf+html&gt;.
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