Why doesn’t the MLA require that the titles of video games be set in italics, as is the case for many other things? On page 88, the seventh edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers instructs italics be used for titles as follows:
Italicize the names of books, plays, poems published as books, pamphlets, periodicals (newspapers, magazines, and journals), Web sites, online databases, films, television and radio broadcasts, compact discs, audiocassettes, record albums, dance performances, operas and other long musical compositions (except those identified simply by form, number, and key; see 3.6.5), works of visual art, ships, aircraft, and spacecraft.
The Awakening (book)
The Importance of Being Earnest (play)
The Waste Land (poem published as a book)
New Jersey Driver Manual (pamphlet)
Wall Street Journal (newspaper)
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Web site)
LexisNexis Academic (online database)
It’s a Wonderful Life (film)
Star Trek (television broadcast)
What’s the Word? (radio broadcast)
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (compact disc, audiocassette, record album)
The Nutcracker (dance performance)
Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique (long musical composition identified by name)
Chagall’s I and My Village (painting)
French’s The Minute Man (sculpture)
USS Arizona (ship)
Spirit of St. Louis (aircraft)
They treat them like a Toyota Prius, right? We would never put a Prius in quotation marks, or…Windows Vista, right? And I think that that distinction is very important, and it changes the way that people think about video games. They think about them as technological product, as opposed to something that was created, that there were artists, that there was a team of people who were responsible for it. And I think that that gesture is symbolic of how most mainstream publications think about video games.
Although I’m not much of a gamer now, I think I buy the argument that video games are deserving of being treated the same way as other artistic creations. MLA requires that you italicize even the lowliest TV show. Shouldn’t video games be accorded at least the same treatment (not that I would put all video games at the same sorry level as, say, TV fare like Small Wonder or Punky Brewster)?
Check out the rest of the segment, “The Culture of Gaming,” especially for its interview with Nicholson Baker, who talks about his time spent looking deeply at eight of the most popular video games of 2010.