Andrew Latham has been interested in video games since he was ten when his mother
gave him a Nintendo 64 video game console, and he has been interested in creative
writing since he was in high school. Today, Latham has found a way to combine his
two interests and is actually working on a Ph.D. dissertation in rhetoric and composition
that deals with modern video game research.
“My research combines narratology, the study of games as narrative (similar to a story),
with ludology, the study of games as games, to show how people interact with games
to produce meaning,” explains Latham. “Basically, I want to rethink the ways we play
and talk about video games.”
Latham explained that platform studies, his specialty, is the study of how video games
are programmed and designed to produce meaning. Platform studies is a relatively new
field—it has only been around for about ten years. Essentially, a video game’s programming
produces meaning, similar to reading a book. The video game designer is like a book
author and tries to persuade the player through rhetoric.
“My dissertation research centers on video games as hypertext, like a Wikipedia article,”
stated Latham. “By changing the hypertext, one can manipulate or change the rhetoric
of the game. However, one must understand game literacy and how a game is structured
in order to manipulate the game.”
“Everyone deserves a voice in the world of video games—whether you are playing Super
Mario Odyssey or using your smartphone to play Candy Crush. My interest lies in how
the game affects the people playing, whether that’s through the chat in the top left-hand
corner of the screen, the facial expressions of the person playing the game, or even
the fact that game players converse and collaborate with people in real time.”
Latham’s doctoral research is being conducted through the University of Texas at Arlington.
“My family has been attending UT Arlington for about 80 years,” said Latham, “so I
decided to continue the family tradition.”
Andrew Latham’s father was in the army, and Andrew spent his early childhood years
all over the United States, Germany and Belgium. Andrew’s mother immigrated to the
United States from Greece in the 1980s when his father met her. In 2004, when Latham
was fifteen, his father retired and the family moved to Arlington, TX.
In 2010, Latham graduated from Texas State University, where he met his wife Allie
in a speed dating session. During the couple’s courtship, Latham also obtained a master’s
degree in Literature from the University of Texas at Tyler in 2012. Already breaking
away from the traditional English major perception, Latham’s master’s degree thesis
was on comic books.
In 2017, Midland College (MC) hired Latham as an English teacher, and now Latham not
only teaches freshman English, but also indulges in his passion for video games by
sponsoring and advising the NOVA Club, MC’s gaming and anime club. Under Latham’s
guidance, club members host video gaming nights periodically for MC students and others
who are interested in video game competitions.
Family and family traditions are important to Latham. Being half-Greek, Latham said
that he spent a good deal of time during his childhood in Greece while visiting relatives.
He speaks and reads Greek, and his wife Allie started learning Greek when they were
dating. He and Allie have been married for three years and have a two-year-old son,
Eli, who is also learning the Greek language. Latham’s grandmother still lives in
Greece, and the family visited her last summer when Eli was baptized.
In addition to the Greek language and culture, Latham is also nurturing Eli in the
art of video gaming. Allie, Eli and Andrew enjoy participating in Pokémon GO community
When Andrew Latham isn’t conducting research on video game rhetoric or teaching freshman
English, he enjoys reading science fiction. His favorite author is Isaac Asimov. In
fact, he proudly displays an autographed 1st edition copy of Asimov’s classic Robots
and Empire on his office bookshelf, a birthday gift from Allie.
Latham is one of a new breed of college English faculty—those who embrace the tried
and true mechanics of composition and rhetoric with twenty-first century technology,
and who embrace the classics of Emily Bronte and T.S. Eliot with more eccentric interests
like Japanese tokusatsu superhero shows.
“I enjoy working with community college students,” said Latham. “English 1301, the
first semester of freshman English, is my favorite class to teach. I like seeing the
start of students’ adaptation to the college environment, especially first-generation-to-college
students. I encourage them to adapt the lessons they learned in high school into something
that will work for them in college. I haven’t incorporated video games into my English
classes yet. After I complete my dissertation, I may work on that project.”