About this website
This website, www.thevideogametext.com, is an experiment in personal publishing and digital scholarship. As such, it exists in three main channels. The first, a blog, is what you're reading right now. This space will be the general purpose reflection and news dissemination vehicle as the project develops.
The second major channel, the text, is the serially published content of my dissertation, The Videogame Text, which I completed and submitted for my PhD in 2008. In other words, the dissertation has already been completed and defended, and it is available in its entirety from the University of Florida Library.
I'm posting it here serially for a couple of reasons. First, no one has time to read 300 page dissertation, at least not all at once. By releasing it gradually, one sub-section at a time, I put each bit of it in front of a potentially larger audience. Second, this whole project is about transforming the dissertation into a book, so as I release bits of it, I'll also be posting and inviting comments on my ideas. I expect this to be a somewhat awkward process on my part, since the fine-toothed comb of granular publication will likely expose flaws in logic and expression that part of me would rather had stayed hidden in a huge PDF.
But the point of this project is to make my writing better, to try it out in front of a wider audience as a way of preparing to turn it into a "real" book. Which brings me to the third major part of this project, the proposal.
As I reflect and release content here, I will also be periodically adding to the proposal document that parallels this project. Typically, book proposals follow a relatively standard format, and they try to inform a potential publisher about various publishing considerations such as a book's anticipated audience and its competition in the field. These will also be part of the proposal, which will be threaded together in the same kind of structure one would expect from a proposal. However, like the dissertation text, my proposal will be published here serially, though in this case that property of its presentation is dictated by its having not yet been written.
Above all, I see several strengths in doing this online. For one, I get to use the content management platform Drupal to experiment with different organizational structures. The dissertation text, for example, is a "book" (in Drupal terminology), that I'm presenting in a layout structure that owes something to CommentPress (this isn't commentpress, however; all I've actually been able to do so far is get the comments running down the right side). Also, I can use variously configurable RSS feeds and twitter integrations to bring my audience into the work every time it's updated, and I've already got much of the dissertation text imported here so I can set it to publish on a schedule.
All this will help me find the audience for this work, and refine it to best meet their interests and needs. This should be valuable data to bring to a book proposal, or, in the event that no contrast is forthcoming, it could be a undertaking in its own right. I dislike the idea of a dissertation as a gatekeeper or rite of passage, so at the very least, I hope this project gets my work out there in a way that is useful and engaging to other scholars.
Finally, a word about the author. I bet that if you're reading this, you found your way here from my twitter feed or blog, so you probably already know who I am. If not, let me fill you in: my name is Zach Whalen and I'm an Assistant Professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA. My teaching area is New Media, and I research videogames. A few years ago, I co-edited a book, Playing the Past with Laurie N. Taylor. In addition to videogames and typography, I am also very interested in Alternate Reality Games. This is my website: zachwhalen.net. I also keep an eye on several websites, mainly Gameology.org.
With that I will conclude this long-winded introduction, and invite you to have a look around. I suggest you start at the beginning.