• McKenna Pomory

Ducharme Lecture Urges Students to Think About World Through Video Games


Photo Credit: Eileen Rosewater

For the Fall Ducharme Lecture, Mount St. Mary’s University invited Dr. Eric Hayot to speak to Mount students and staff about “How to Think About the World (with Video Games).” The event was held in the Knott Auditorium at 4 p.m. on Sept. 22. Members of the Mount community were also able to watch on a livestream.

As a professor of Comparative Literature and Asian Studies at Pennsylvania State University, Hayot taught the audience how to interpret video games on a deeper level to develop their understanding of the world. He explained how little pieces of culture from the past exist in present-day society and helped form the present days' culture.

One of the ways he did this was by comparing an Etruscan vase as an artifact to understand different cultures at different points of time. Then, he tied this idea back to the lectures main topic of video games by classifying them as a sort of cultural artifact and how people respond to unfamiliar environments and intense situations.

“It’s important to think about the way that we respond to objects is also kind of similar to the way that we might potentially respond to an environment in a video game," stated Nick Hutchings, Associate Professor of Visual and Performing Arts. “If you look at a broken thing and it’s sitting on a table in a studio or classroom, it will look like a broken object, but if I take it and put it on a white pedestal inside of a gallery all of sudden it is art. That’s context and the way we perceive the object is how it frames it. In the same way that when you’re moving through a video game, the music builds up and things start happening. It builds up the context that something is going to happen in this next scene and you have to make a decision,” Hutchings added.

Held once in the fall and once in the spring, the Ducharme lectures are an annual lecture series that is designed to foster the integration of knowledge across a wide variety of subjects covered in the Mount’s core curriculum.

Each year, the Mount welcomes one lecturer from outside the community and one Mount faculty member to speak at the lecture series. In 2020, Dr. Daniel McMahon gave a lecture about how the concept of utopias are used by thinkers to diminish the gates between facts and more philosophical questions about life and society.

“I see the lecture series as an extension of the classroom,” remarked Dr. Peter A. Dorsey, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “I hope the topics covered in the series can expand the knowledge base of our students and our faculty so they learn about things that may not be covered in our regular courses,” he added.

The lecture series is named in honor of Robert Ducharme, Professor Emeritus of English. The Ducharme lectures are endowed with a generous gift by Mount alumni Raphael Della Ratta (C’92). For those who could not attend in person or virtually, the lecture can still be viewed at https://livestream.com/msmu/events/9846805.