Ever yearn to study "Tetris" as a metaphor for American consumerism?
How about ponder "Grand Theft Auto III" as an examination of the human condition?
Game studies (or "ludology," as it's known, from the Latin for "game") has spawned a new class of academics who devote themselves to analyzing how the wildly popular form of entertainment tells stories -- and what it reveals about how we express ourselves.
What do the social dynamics of online worlds -- those massively multiplayer games -- tell us about human behavior?
In the US, some of the most influential work is being done by Janet Murray at Georgia Tech and by MIT's Henry Jenkins.