Research into computer games is essential in understanding the digital revolution, according to the organisers of a Bristol conference.
Jon Dovey, who ran the Game Cultures weekend, said ludology was emerging as an academic study.
"This is a new area of research being reclaimed as an object of study from popular culture. The games industry is worth more than the Hollywood film industry. It will become to the 21st century the new form for story-telling, culture and art," he said.
Eighty academics attended the conference, which was jointly organised by the University of the West of England and Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education.
Mr Dovey, deputy head of UWE's school of cultural studies, said that until now, there had been no research agenda into which games fitted.
"What was starting to emerge over the weekend was the establishment of this ground-breaking new discipline as part of cultural studies. A lot of academics felt they could come out of the closet and admit they had an interest in gaming themselves."
He forecast that the next generation of computer games could combine interactive play with cinema, and new terms would be needed to define them.
"Calling them games makes them sound trivial. They could be termed interactive entertainment or leisure software," Mr Dovey said. "It is likely that the future of entertainment and culture in the digital age will develop out of the games industry."
The conference addressed three main themes: the identity of gamers and how they use games; the game as text, with a debate on the computer game as part movie, part story, part action; and the industry itself.