Sunday, October 20, 2013

Presenting at RMMLA: My Experience

On October 10, I had the opportunity to present my paper, "'Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On': Shakespeare and the Cultural Legitimacy of Video Games" at the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association conference. The conference this year was in Vancouver, Washington (no, not Canada and no, not DC). It is unusual for an undergraduate to present at this conference and I was very grateful for the opportunity.

I was very pleasantly surprised by how well my paper was received. Even before the conference started, the panel chair, a professor from Utah State, told me to not be nervous because they were a nice group of people. It also helped that everywhere we went there seemed to be another BYU graduate wanting to talk to us--in the airport, in the hotel, in the room I presented in--everywhere. I was really worried that they'd hear I was an undergraduate and someone would say something about how I wasn't supposed to be there or ask how I ever got in to the conference. I was also worried that I'd get to the conference room and the other presenters would speak and it would all go way over my head and my paper would seem completely juvenile in comparison. Actually, neither of those things happened. I found the other papers super interesting and exciting, and when the time came for Q&A after the presentations, I actually got the bulk of the questions (this might have been in part because I was the last presenter, but it still felt good) and I held my own and had answers for everyone. (Surprisingly, I didn't get the chance to use any of the ten or so answers I had come up with for the questions, "But how can games be art when they're so violent?" because no one asked any version of that question.)

After I finished my presentation, the panel chair asked if I was going to publish my paper and asked the room if they thought I should. They were all very supportive in saying I should publish it somewhere. A woman from The University of Baltimore asked me to email it to her to give to their new Department of Simulation and Digital Entertainment. She said they would love to read it.

Overall, it was an amazing experience and much less intimidating than I thought it would be. The paper was received very well and I'm more excited than ever about my prospects studying video games as an art form.

The full text of my paper can be read and downloaded here.
The accompanying PowerPoint can be viewed and downloaded here.

And, finally, here's a video my lovely wife took of my presentation: