I frequently see pieces outlining the benefits of attending academic conferences. Such pieces promise opportunities for networking and publishing, the aid conference attendance can provide in staying abreast of the field and cultivating an academic reputation. These things are, of course, true to some extent, although many seem to arrive through the potent alchemy of hard work and luck. Many of the articles also stress the importance of attending national conferences. This, too, is true to some extent, since national conferences often carry more weight as CV lines and also often have more robust book exhibits which yield more opportunities to pitch books or other publishing projects. I don’t exactly want to counter these oft-made suggestions. I do, however, want to offer a bit of explanation about why, the conference I most regularly attended is the regional SW/TX PCA/ACA, and also to again suggest this conference for those interested in game studies.
The SW/TX PCA/ACA (aside from being a mouthful of an acronym) is the Southwest Texas Popular Culture Association American Cultural Association. The SW/TX PCA/ACA is a conference organized by and largely experienced through various areas. For game studies, that area is the Game Studies, Culture, Play, and Practice Area, which is chaired by Judd Ruggill. The Game Studies area is populated by a collegial group of scholars, and, increasingly, game designers whose work touches on many aspects of contemporary and historical game culture. The group of people who attend the conference year to year is by and large what has made the conference so important to me. In my case, the Game Studies area has offered a host of benefits:
While the benefits outlined here certainly apply to scholars at any level, I wanted to detail a few aspects of the conference I think make it an especially great place for scholars new to the field of game studies or for games industry professionals looking to dip their toes into the academic pool.
Basically, I could write a love letter to the regional SW/TX PCA/ACA. It isn’t the most prestigious conference I go to, but in many ways, in terms of what it yields for me professionally, it is the best. I always feel I can judge a conference experience by the length of my post-conference to-do list. Given that I’ve got a to-do list two dozen items long, I’d say this year’s conference was pretty great; given that I’m staring down this list with some genuine excitement about getting started, I’d say this year’s conference was just about perfect.
Also, I got to play Spaceteam, which I 100% recommend everyone with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch check out.