Ludology: The science of games. From Latin ludus, "game," which is also the source of ludicrous, delude (to mock, deceive), allude (Latin alludere: to joke, jest), prelude (something that is played beforehand), and other English words.
Writer and ludologist Clive Thompson spoke about his science in an April 19 "On the Media" segment about do-it-yourself XBox game development. (Transcript available Monday afternoon.) Thompson, who has been called "the Lester Bangs of ludology,"¹ writes about games on his blog, Collision Detection, and in publications such as Wired and the New York Times Magazine. Back in 2006 Thompson wrote:
I've had the privilege to work with a ludologist right here in the Bay Area. Nicole Lazzaro, founder of XEO Design, has been named one of Gamasutra's top 20 women in games. She's identified four "fun keys": easy fun, hard fun, people fun, and serious fun.
¹ Lester Bangs (1949-1982) was a gonzo rock 'n' roll critic. "The Lester Bangs of ludology" seems eminently qualified for enshrinement in The Rosa Parks of Blogs, a a ludicrously addictive blog by Mark Peters that collects examples of the snowclone "X is the Y of Z."