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Jaroslav Švelch is an assistant professor at Charles University, Prague. He is the author of the recent monograph Gaming the Iron Curtain: How Teenagers and Amateurs in Communist Czechoslovakia Claimed the Medium of Computer Games (MIT Press, 2018). He has published work on history and theory of computer games, on humor in games and social media, and on the Grammar Nazi phenomenon. He is currently researching history, theory, and reception of monsters in games.
- Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague – media studies (Ph.D., September 2013). Dissertation: The 8-bit “craze”: The Origins of Computer Gaming Culture in Czechoslovakia
- Microsoft Research New England, Cambridge MA, USA – Ph.D. internship (September – December 2012)
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge MA, USA – comparative media studies, visiting researcher on the J.W. Fulbright scholarship (September 2007 – January 2009)
- Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague – linguistics and phonetics/translation and interpretation (Master’s Degree, 2011). Thesis: Amateur Translation of TV Feature Series and Its Social Context.
- Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague – media studies (Master’s degree, 2005). Thesis: Time stucture in narrative news stories.
- University of Glamorgan, Trefforest, Wales, UK – media & communication, exchange program (September 2003-March 2004)
- Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague – journalism (Bachelor’s degree, 2002). Thesis: The Relationship between the Verbal and Non-Verbal elements in the Čtyřlístek comics.
- research of theory, history and reception of video game monsters within the Games and Transgressive Aesthetics (GTA) project undertaken at the University of Bergen (2017-2019) and funded by the Research Council of Norway
- research team member in the POLCORE group at Charles University – research on political participation and civic engagement online
- research project at Microsoft Research New England on the making of physical humor in virtual spaces, supervised by Mary L. Gray and Nancy Baym – results to be submitted to the Television & New Media journal
methods: open-ended interviews (Skype and face-to-face), qualitative analysis of textual materials
- research at Charles University in Prague focusing on the social history of the gaming community in Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic (2009-now)
methods: oral history interviews, qualitative analysis of textual materials
- two larger-scale studies of online interactions: a study of language management and multilingualism in online discussion forums, a study of amateur subtitling communities
methods: online ethnography, qualitative interviews, qualitative analysis of textual materials
- a study of moral identification in video games (methods: focus group)
- research assistant to Beth Coleman, Assistant Professor of Writing and New Media at MIT: research on the history of virtual worlds for Dr. Coleman’s book Hello Avatar (2008-2009)
- lecturer in game studies and new media and society at Charles University in Prague (2009-now) – 5 courses a year, Czech and English
- lecturer in game studies at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic (2009-now) – 2-4 courses a year, Czech and English
- supervisor of the Game Studies minor track at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic (2014-onwards), coordinator of five game studies-related courses
- regular guest lectures at NYU Prague on game industry and game cultures in the class Culture and Social Media Technologies (Jeremy Druker)
- lecturer in an EU media literacy programme – lecturing and leading workshops with high school teachers
Grants and scholarships
- J. W. Fulbright Commission scholarship – one year research grant to study Comparative Media Studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, extended by another 6 months (2007-2008)
- Czech Science Foundation – project co-writer, team member on the grant The Role Of Social Media In Transformation Of Political Communication And Citizen Participation, awarded in 2013
Krobová, T., Moravec, O., & Švelch, J. (2015). Dressing Commander Shepard in pink: Queer playing in a heteronormative game culture. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 9(3). http://doi.org/10.5817/CP2015-3-3
Švelch, J. (2015). Excuse my poor English: language management in English-language online discussion forums. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 2015(232). http://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2014-0046
Sherman, T.,Švelch, J. (2014). “Grammar Nazis never sleep”: Facebook humor and the management of standard written language. Language Policy, 1–20. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10993-014-9344-9
- Švelch, J. (2014). Comedy of Contingency: Making Physical Humor in Video Game Spaces. International Journal of Communication, 8, 2530–2552.
- Švelch, J. (2013d). Say it with a Computer Game: Hobby Computer Culture and the Non-entertainment Uses of Homebrew Games in the 1980s Czechoslovakia. Game Studies, 13(2).
- Švelch, J. (2013c). The delicate art of criticizing a saviour: “Silent gratitude” and the limits of participation in the evaluation of fan translation. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 19(3), 303–310. doi:10.1177/1354856513486531
- Švelch, J. (2013b). Monsters by the numbers: Controlling monstrosity in video games. In M. Levina & D.-M. T. Bui (Eds.), Monster culture in the 21st century a reader (pp. 193–208). New York: Bloomsbury Academic. (Pre-press version of the article available here.)
- Švelch, J. (2013a). Indiana Jones fights the communist police: Local appropriation of the text adventure genre in the 1980s Czechoslovakia. In N. B. Huntemann & B. Aslinger (Eds.), Gaming Globally: Production, Play, and Place (pp. 163–182). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Reifová, I., & Švelch, J. (2013). Shrinking the grand narratives in theorizing participation and new media. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 19(3), 261–264. doi:10.1177/1354856513482089
- Švelch, J. (2010c). The Good, the Bad, and the Player: The Challenges to Moral Engagement in Single-Player Avatar-Based Video Games. In Schrier, Karen & Gibson, David (Eds.), Ethics and Game Design: Teaching values through play(pp. 52–68). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.
- Švelch, J. (2010b). The context of innovation in metaphorical game design : the case of Deus Ex Machina. In C. Klimmt, K. Mitgustsch, & H. Rosensting (Eds.), Exploring the edges of gaming: proceedings of the Vienna Games Conference 2008 – 2009: future and reality of gaming (pp. 303–313). Wien: Braumüller.
- Švelch, J. (2010a). Selling games by the kilo: using oral history to reconstruct informal economies of computer game distribution in the post-communist environment. In C. Swertz & M. Wagner (Eds.), Game\Play\Society: contributions to contemporary computer game studies. München: Kopaed.
- Švelch, J. (2009). The pleasurable lightness of being: Interface, mediation and meta-narrative in Lucasfilm’s Loom. Eludamos. Journal for Computer Game Culture, 3(1), 95–102.
- Švelch, J. (2008b). What you can’t see is what you don’t get: paradigms of game world visualization. In Proceedings of the 2008 Conference on Future Play: Research, Play, Share (pp. 212–215). Presented at the Future Play 2008, New York, NY, USA: ACM. doi:10.1145/1496984.1497026
- Švelch, J. (2012e). Všechny hry, po kterých toužíte: Neformální systémy distribuce počítačových her v Československu v 80. a 90. letech 20. století. In B. Suwara & Z. Husárová (Eds.), V sieti strednej Európy: nielen o elektronickej literatúre (pp. 143–156). Bratislava: SAP a Ústav svetovej literatúry SAV.
- Švelch, J. (2012d). Text, příběh a stroj: Digitální textualita a textové počítačové hry v Československu 80. let 20. století. In B. Suwara & Z. Husárová (Eds.), V sieti strednej Európy: nielen o elektronickej literatúre (pp. 157–173). Bratislava: SAP a Ústav svetovej literatúry SAV.
- Švelch, J. (2012c). Hra pro více hráčů: Herní studia a interdisciplinarita. In B. Suwara & Z. Husárová (Eds.), V sieti strednej Európy: nielen o elektronickej literatúre (pp. 125–141). Bratislava: SAP a Ústav svetovej literatúry SAV.
- Švelch, J. (2012b). Co nám říká hra: Teoretické a metodologické přístupy k počítačové hře jako expresivnímu médiu. Iluminace, 24(2), 33–48.
- Švelch, J. (2012a). Bílá místa na mapě herního designu: Rozhovor s Jakubem Dvorským a Jaroslavem Kolářem. Iluminace, 24(2), 89–96.
- Švelch, J. (2011c). Smyšlené prostory, skutečné technologie: k historii projektů virtuálních světů. In J. Horáková (Ed.), Umění a nová média (Vydání první., pp. 97–112). Brno: Masarykova univerzita.
- Švelch, J. (2011b). Novináři, kteří nepíšou: reprezentace žurnalistiky v počítačových hrách. Komunikace, média, společnost, 1(1), 8–18.
- Švelch, J. (2011a). Amatérský překlad televizních seriálů v sociálním kontextu (Amateur Translation of Scripted Television Series and Its Social Context) (Master’s thesis). Charles University in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic.
- Švelch, J. (2008a). Počítačové hry jako nová média. Mediální studia, 3(1), 8–35.
- Švelch, J. (2007). Počítačové hry a jejich místo v mediálních studiích. Pražské sociálně vědní studie, (MED-009), 1–66.
Conference participation and talks
- What’s so funny about glitches: The practice of making glitch based gameplay videos. DiGRA, Lüneburg, Germany, May 2015
- Protest games in the 1980s Czechoslovakia: Beyond procedural rhetoric. DiGRA, Lüneburg, Germany, May 2015
- The non-lineary history of hacking games. DiGRA, Lüneburg, Germany, May 2015
- Regional Diversity vs Globalization in Digital Games / A Historical Perspective from Czechoslovakia, Different Games 2015, New York, USA, April 2015
- You’re standing in the living room: Homebrew games and everyday life in the 1980s Czechoslovakia, Society for Cinema and Media Studies 2015 conference, Montréal, Canada, March 2015
- Central and Eastern European Game Studies conference, Brno, 10-11 October, 2014, conference co-founder, program chair and organizing committee member
- A temporary craze that didn’t go away: The origins of a gaming culture in the 1980s Czechoslovakia, Cyberspace, Brno, Czech Republic, November 2014
- Campaigning in a Contested Space: Communication on Facebook Party Profiles During the 2013 Czech Parliamentary Elections (with V. Štětka, L. Vochocová), ECREA 2014, Lisbon, Portugal, November 2014
- Just a temporary craze: Discourses on micro computers and computer games in the 1980s Czechoslovakia, New Media Histories, Lodz, Poland, October 2014
- Robbing the robbers using simulated computer networks: 1980s Czechoslovak hacking games as a local (sub)genre, Central and Eastern European Game Studies, Brno, Czech Republic, October 2014
- The coup that flopped: the role of Facebook in a grassroots political action in the Czech Republic (with V. Štětka), Social Media and the Transformation of Public Sphere, Amsterdam, Netherlands, June 2014
- Making mischief in video games: The player and the engine as co-creators of physical humor in simulated video game spaces, Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Seattle, USA, March 2014
- This Game is Revenge: Uses of Homebrew Games in the 1980s Czechoslovakia, Future and Reality of Gaming, Vienna, Austria, October 2013
- Know your monster: How video games demystify monstrosity through control, DiGRA, Atlanta, USA, August 2013
- The Origins of Digital Gaming behind the Iron Curtain. The Interplay of Grassroots Hobby Computing and State Infrastructure in Establishing a Gaming Culture in 1980s Czechoslovakia, Montreal, Canada, June 2013
- Computer Games: A Different History – The Hobby Scene in 1980s Czechoslovakia, ECREA Digital Games Pre-conference, Instanbul, Turkey, October 2012
- The Monster and the System: Representations of Monstrosity in Game Mechanics, Future and Reality of Gaming, Vienna, Austria, October 2011
- Selling Games By The Kilo: Using Oral History To Reconstruct Informal Economies Of Computer Game Distribution In The Post-Communist Environment, Future and Reality of Gaming, Vienna, Austria, October 2010
- What It Takes To Be A Gamer: The Construction of the Myth of the Hard Core Gamer in the 1990’s Czech Republic, Under the Mask: Perspectives on the Gamer, Luton, U.K., June 2010
- Context of Innovation in Metaphorical Game Design: The Case of Automata UK’s Deus Ex Machina, Future and Reality of Gaming, Vienna, Austria, October 2009
- What you can’t see is what you don’t get: paradigms of game world visualization, Future Play, Toronto, Canada, November 2008
Guest and individual lectures
- Games as Resistance in the 1980s Czechoslovakia: A Pragmatic Approach to the Study of “Political” Games, Concordia University, Montreal, March 26, 2015
- What 1980s Czechoslovak digital games can tell us about the medium: Theoretical challenges and contributions of local game histories, ITU Copenhagen, June 6, 2014
- The Unintended Avant-garde – Two stories from 1980′s European game development, NYU Game Center, NYC, November 16, 2012
- Comedy of Contingency: Making Physical Humor in Virtual Game Spaces, MIT Game Lab, December 13, 2012
- individual lectures during Fubright Ph.D. scholarship at MIT: (1) Forbidden Fandom – Czech Underground Rock before 1989, January 2008, (2) We’re Swimming in Blood and We Feel Fine – Hard Core Gaming Culture in the Czech Repbulic, January 2008
- co-leading The Dilemma of Gamers workshop at the Future of the Internet conference, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard Law School, March 2008
Other work experience
- games journalist – Level magazine, since 2013
- music journalist – Spark magazine, since 2001; Rock&Pop magazine, 2006-2008, 2010-2011; Play.cz, 2008-2010
- film journalist – IFF Karlovy Vary festival daily, 2005-2012; Cinema monthly, 2004-2006
- translator (for the Charles University PR Department, magazines, both English->Czech and Czech->English)
- independent musician and songwriter (with the band Rest In Haste, co-founded in 2006)
- @raguklemenso on Twitter
- svelch.com – academic blog since 2011
- differentgaming.blogspot.com – academic blog about game studies since 2008, now inactive
- Czech – native, Slovak – passive
- English – near native, with experience in lecturing and leading workshops in English
- German – advanced
- Latin, Welsh, Spanish, French – basic
Fields of interest
- digital games history
- video game monsters
- games and morality
- new media
- social media
- ethics in new media and digital games
- online sociolinguistics and language management
- media history
- user generated content and amateur translation