Tag Archive: CFP

CFP: Permadeath and Precarity

I was fortunate enough to be on a great gaming panel at last year’s SCMS in Montreal, organized by Braxton Soderman and Peter Krapp at UC Irvine. The success of that panel, which took on the topic of permadeath in gaming, has led us to propose a special issue to the Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds. As a first step, we are now soliciting ideas for individual contributions to the issue (abstracts ONLY). Call below! Please circulate widely.


Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds

Proposed Special Issue: Permadeath and Precarity

Summer 2017

Call for Abstracts

Due: February 15, 2016

Length: 350-500 words

In the early days of coin-operated arcade games, the cost of defeat was clearly defined in monetary terms. A player inserted a coin and played until her skill, luck, or money ran out. But as arcade games waned in many markets throughout the 1990s, home console and PC game development replaced coin-op design with approaches built instead around player empowerment and narrative progress. The sense of risk was minimized. Recently, a new counter-design movement has emerged which reemphasizes the precariousness of play by making defeat, death, and failure irrevocable. Permanent death or permadeath (PD), as it has come to be known, is experiencing a renaissance with the release of games such as Heavy Rain, DayZ, Don’t Starve, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and One Chance.

Why might this be the case? What does PD teach us about the current state of game culture and its future? How does PD illuminate the history of video games? And what distinguishes the new PD from older forms of permanent player death found in coin-op games and roguelikes? How might the rise in ludic experiments with the mechanics of mortality relate to contemporary issues surrounding the Anthropocene, neoliberal economics, and even the so-called death of the monolithic “gamer” identity?

We have paired permadeath as a design principle with the conceptual nexus of risk invoked by the term “precarity” in order to suggest parallel historical and cultural trajectories. We hope that the juxtaposition of permadeath and precarity will inspire contributions that address continuing gaps in games scholarship as well as support ongoing interest in topics such as gamification, game history and narrative, gamer identity, and the nature of play. In this proposed special issue, we would like to assemble not only essays that explore what perspectives PD games open up in terms of game design, the psychology of play, and interactive narrative in single-player games, but also those that discuss why PD is less prevalent in multiplayer games (though this might be changing), and what limitations the option imposes on what is or is not likely to be a part of designing playable characters in the future.

Please note that while we are soliciting contributions that address PD specifically, we would also welcome those that approach issues of precarity, death, and the consequences of failure in video games in broader terms.

Some potential areas of interest:

  • The history and culture of PD
  • PD and narrative
  • PD and crisis culture
  • PD and avatar identification
  • PD as genre (or PD with respect to “The Berlin Interpretation”)
  • Cultural determinates of the rise of contemporary PD
  • Player preservation vs. player persistence
  • PD as a difficulty setting (hardcore mode in Minecraft, Diablo, etc., or as a player-imposed goal such as a “no death run”)
  • Player communities and PD
  • Player responses to PD
  • “Save scumming”
  • PD as an emerging genre (as opposed to PD as a feature across game genres)
  • Roguelikes and PD games
  • The concept of PD in relation to ideas/concepts such as player affect–e.g., thrill, tension, frustration, failure, risk, and or mastery
  • A close reading/playing of a game related to PD
  • Comparative media approaches to PD

Abstracts should be submitted to permadeathCFP@gmail.com by February 15, 2016. Please feel free to direct any questions to that account.

Thank you! We look forward to your submissions,

Braxton, Jesús, and Alenda


Editor Info:

Braxton Soderman is an Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at UC Irvine.

Jesús Costantino is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame.

Alenda Chang is an Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara.

CFP: Queerness and Games Conference 2015


Passing this on from conference organizer Bonnie Ruberg:

“The Queerness and Games Conference, an annual, community-oriented, nationally-recognized event dedicated to exploring the intersection of LGBTQ issues and video games, is accepting submissions for presentations at the 2015 conference now through June 15!”

Full details here.

Friend and colleague Timothy Welsh is organizing the latest installment of the Games and Literary Theory Conference Series, to be held at his home institution of Loyola University in New Orleans. The call details are below:

# International Conference Series in Games and Literary Theory Third Annual Conference

Hosted by Loyola University New Orleans, Department of English & School of Mass Communication

New Orleans, Louisiana USA

November 20-22, 2015

The Games and Literary Theory Conference Series addresses the scope and appeal of interdisciplinary approaches to the study of games and games’ impact on other fields in the Humanities. It began in 2012 as a PhD seminar and workshop arranged by the Department of English at the University of Malta in collaboration with IT University of Copenhagen and subsequently expanded into an annual conference. The inaugural Games and Literary Theory conference convened at the University of Malta in 2013 (https://gamesandliterarytheory.wordpress.com/); the 2nd annual conference was held at the University of Amsterdam in 2014 (http://www.uva.nl/en/about-the-uva/organisation/faculties/content/faculteit-der-geesteswetenschappen/shared-content/events/conferences/2014/11/games-and-literary-theory.html).

The 3rd annual Games and Literary Theory conference is scheduled to meet in the USA at Loyola University New Orleans during November 2015.

We are particularly interested in digital game modalities and how these might be seen as reconfiguring and questioning concepts, practices and orthodoxies integral to literary theory (i.e.

textuality, subjectivity, authorship, the linguistic turn, the ludic, and the nature of fiction). The conference will also explore the ways in which theoretical discourses in the area of game studies can benefit from critical concerns and concepts developed within the fields of literary and cultural  theory, such as undecidability, the trace, the political unconscious, the allegorical, and the autopoietic. Likewise the conversation about narrative and games continues to raise questions concerning the nature of concepts such as fiction and the virtual, or indeterminacies across characters, avatars and players.

The Games and Literary Theory conference has adopted a single-track format allowing all attendees to attend all presentations and discussions. The organizers of the Third Annual International Conference invite proposals that focus on issues related, but not limited to, any (or a combination of) the following:

– Textuality in literature and games

– Rethinking fiction after with digital games

– Characters, avatars, players, subjects

– New forms of narrative and games

– Games and the rethinking of culture

– Genre study and criticism

– Digital games, literariness, and intermediality

– Digital games and authorship and/or focalization

– Reception theory, reader experience, player experience: New phenomenologies for critique

– Gender in games, literature, and theory

– Digital games, literary theory, and posthumanism

– Representations of disability in interactive media

– Possible Worlds Theory and games

– Digital games in literature

For earliest consideration, please submit abstracts of 250-300 words as the body of an email with a subject line “GamesLit15” to Timothy Welsh (twelsh@loyno.edu) by April 1, 2015. The organizers will review proposals and confirm acceptances beginning May 1, 2015.

For information and updates, please refer to the conference website

(gameslit15.wordpress.com) and twitter feed (@gameslit15).

Proposed Game Studies Panels for SCMS 2014

Thanks to the SCMS Video Game Studies Scholarly Interest Group, here is a list of game-related panels looking for participants for the upcoming 2014 SCMS conference, taking place March 19 through March 23 at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel in Seattle, WA.

Proposed panels:
– Animation and Video Games
– Beyond These Walls: Alternative Preservation and Exhibition Practices in Digital Game Culture
– Debugging Game History: Forgotten Histories
– Gender and Video Games: Beyond the Popular
– Play, Space, and Capital
– Small Games
– The Superhero Beyond the Blockbuster
– Teaching Media Literacy Through a Video Game Context
– Video Games and Comedy

More information about the conference can be found here: http://www.cmstudies.org/?page=call_for_submissions

More information about the VGSSIG can be found here: http://www.cmstudies.org/?page=groups_videogames


Animation and Video Games
This panel’s theme, broadly defined as “Animation and Video Games,” aims to encourage and foster greater dialogue between these two areas of scholarship. The goal is to broaden the scope of research and enrich the theoretical vocabulary of both disciplines by examining the ways in which animation and video games inform, shape, and constantly redefine each other’s aesthetic landscapes, production modes, and audience participation practices.

This panel seeks to put together contributions which highlight points of intersection between animation and video game scholarship, such as issues of computer animation aesthetics and visual narrative, spectator theories and interactive viewership, exhibition approaches and practices, franchising and fandoms, trends in software development, etc.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:
Cinematics and video game trailers
Video game art/art exhibits/companion art volumes
Animation software in game development
Art and aesthetics of independent games
Motion capture in video games
Interactive animation viewership in video games
Simulations, visualizations, and training software
Media franchises (such as Final Fantasy) encompassing both games and animated series

Please send abstracts of 250-300 words and a short biography to Mihaela Mihailova at mihaela.mihailova@yale.edu by July 31st. All submissions will receive a response by August 7.

Beyond These Walls: Alternative Preservation and Exhibition Practices in Digital Game Culture
An increasing number of Academic and Museum Institutions have turned their attention towards the challenges of exhibiting and preserving video game culture.  While these practices are certainly commendable, they have largely focused on reinforcing familiar narratives of technological innovation by canonizing particular game properties among the ‘great works’ of the video game industry.  What has largely been omitted from these discussions are the alternative preservation practices that individuals and groups outside of institutional boundaries have long been engaged in.

Typically framed as aberrant behaviour by the video game industry, this panel will offer an examination of archival and exhibition practices that gaming fan cultures participate in. Rather than the exclusive practices of museums and archives, fan cultures engage in inclusive practices which serve to preserve gaming culture writ large. Focusing on these practices, “Beyond these Walls” will engage in a discussion of issues of ownership, collective knowledge, and citizen scholarship, as a means of uncovering alternatives to the dominant narratives of gaming culture.

We are currently seeking the addition of a fourth panellist to this panel to compliment the three papers already confirmed. Paper abstracts should focus on methods of non-institutional preservation and exhibition techniques in gaming culture, with examinations of fan practice, piracy, online knowledge cultures, independent gaming events, venues and exhibitions being considered.

Please forward a 250 word abstract for your paper to skot deeming at mrghosty@gmail.com

Debugging Game History: Forgotten Histories
Each speaker on this panel will present on a key concept, player community, game developer, or topic. As with last year’s “Debugging” panels and the upcoming Debugging Game Historyvolume, we would like each paper to be given a short title that focuses directly on the historical topic covered.  The goal is to underline participation in a coherent project with two aspects: (1) developing critical terminology in game studies; and (2) fostering a greater sense of inclusiveness in game studies by focusing on neglected or forgotten historical actors, designs, developers, companies, scenes, players, forms of documentation, etc.  Some examples: “Arcade Art” “Clan PMS,” “Purple Moon,” “Jerry Lawson,” “Game Fanzines,” “Multiplayer Gaming before DOOM.”  These made-up examples are just intended to give a sense of breadth and the goals of the panel; we hope to get exciting proposals on any related topic.

The panel might work best if the concepts are at least somewhat related; our suggestion to achieve this would be to focus on people (players, developers) or settings, but a more diverse set of contributions is fine, too. Bottom line: The panel’s goal is to open up terminological discussion in critical-historical game studies and to break a path that opens up game studies to previously neglected histories.

Please submit proposals for panel papers to Henry Lowood (lowood@stanford.edu)  and Raiford Guins (rgun81@gmail.com) by 10 August.

Gender and Video Games: Beyond the Popular
Scholarship on gender and video games tends to focus on top-selling mainstream video games (Call of Duty, Tomb Raider, Grand Theft Auto, etc.). As a result, this research fails to consider the constructions of gender in a range of other games, such as casual or educational games. The accessibility of video games on a variety of devices and the integration of games in a range of settings (workplace, education, advocacy) call for an expanded framework for studying gender and videogames. This panel seeks proposals for papers that examine gender in genres such as:

·      Educational games
·      Girl games
·      Indie and art games
·      Online gaming environments
·      Sports games
·      Casual games
·      Games for social change

Please send a 250 word abstract and academic bio by August 1 to Carolyn Cunningham, cunninghamc@gonzaga.edu

Play, Space, and Capital
This panel invites abstracts for papers that investigate the relationship between play (gaming, fan works, performance, ritual, productive play, parody, and other examples), space (physical space, social space, ritual space, boundaries, event or festival space, localities, and other examples), and capital (production, consumption, “conduction” or “pro-sumption,” structures of accumulation, legality and copyright, etc.). We are most interested in critical and/or qualitative approaches to these phenomena, and structural analyses, case studies, theoretical discussions, and ethnographic or autoethnographic work are equally welcome.

Please e-mail a 250-350-word abstract, along with a five-source bibliography and brief biographical statement, by August 1, 2013 to:  Robin Haislett (robin.haislett@ttu.edu).

Small Games
Casual games, indie games, art games, downloadable games, and mobile gaming platforms have transformed the global video game industry and the media landscape. These types of games often have limited controls, simpler graphics, and smaller worlds, screens, and budgets than prestige console-based games and massive multi-player online games. From Angry Birdsto Phone Story and Dys4ia, small games have expanded both the player and developer communities and altered notions of what video games do and how. This panel seeks papers that reflect on the world of small games and what the study of them lends to the growing field of game studies. I am interested in papers that address how small games are different from “big” games. Topics might include: indie game aesthetics, new modes of distribution, games in galleries, small games and difference (race, gender, sexuality, class, etc.), game-making software, interventionist games, small platforms, etc. Send 500-word abstracts, sample bibliography, and short biographical statements to Aubrey Anable at aubrey.anable@utoronto.ca

The Superhero Beyond the Blockbuster
Over the past decade in particular, the superhero film has become one of the cornerstones of Hollywood’s blockbuster-dependent business model. Its roots in other media ensure a built-in audience and deep cultural awareness, while also enabling spreadability across multiple delivery channels and revenue streams. At the same time that the dominant superhero franchises have extended themselves across every conceivable media platform from cinema screens to Slurpee cups, texts without any ties to big-budget productions have also proliferated and have become a site of genre renewal and critique. This panel seeks to interrogate some of the consequences of the superhero’s ubiquity by tracing the “ripple effect” of the superhero’s blockbuster status.

Possible paper topics may include, but are not limited to:
The transformation of genre markers into gameplay mechanics (e.g. in board or video games)
The politics of the children’s superhero (e.g. in animated television programming)
Balancing comic book mythology with blockbuster-esque aesthetics in television (e.g. Smallville, Arrow)
Parodies of the superhero film (e.g. Mad magazine, porn, CollegeHumor, etc.)
Low-budget (incl. fan films) and/or foreign (e.g. Bollywood, Russian) appropriations of the Hollywood superhero
Transmedia extensions of blockbuster franchises (e.g. Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye comics, viral marketing, etc.)
Superhero toys and LEGO

Please submit abstracts of 250-300 words and a concise bio to Dru Jeffries (dru.jeffries@gmail.com) by August 9. All applications will receive a response by August 16.

Teaching Media Literacy Through a Video Game Context
Although the 2011 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association/Entertainment Software Association ruled against a proposed California law that would regulate the sale of violent video games, the debate over this topic continues.  In fact, the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT has renewed the argument over video game violence, its potential effects on aggression and the question of regulation.  Some lawmakers have called for increased oversight of games, proposed measures such as a “sin tax” on their sale, or even pushed for laws banning the sale of games to minors, the exact type of bill that the Supreme Court previously struck down.

As with many media issues, navigating the various perspectives in this debate can be difficult for students, particularly given the emotionally charged nature of much media coverage.  It may be confusing how, when so many of these laws have been struck down, lawmakers keep attempting to impose new ones.  Students may also find it difficult to understand why, when many researchers do show concern about the impact of video games, these laws are still unconstitutional.

The purpose of this workshop, therefore, is to use this issue, and similar video game controversies, as a launching off point for a discussion about the challenges and benefits of teaching media literacy using video games.  We will explore to key arguments in the field and develop strategies for teaching them to late high school and early college students as a way to increase their understanding of video games while expanding their general media literacy and ability to think critically.

Because this workshop aims to develop collective strategies for video game pedagogy, the traditional panel format would be less effective, given its stronger focus on individual perspectives rather than collaborative discussion.  Audience members will be invited to contribute strategies they have found to be successful, provide feedback on the panel member’s ideas for teaching video game topics and suggest discourses they feel students should explore to gain a full understanding of critical issues in this area.

Bibliographic Sources:
After Newtown, Congress calls for violent video game regulation. (2013). CBSNews.com. Retrieved July 9, 2013, from http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50138860n&tag=api
Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: a meta-analytic review of the scientific literature. Psychological science, 12(5), 353–359.
Brown vs. Entertainment Merchant’s Association/Entertainment Software Association. 564 U.S. 08-1448 (2011)
Hovey, D. An Act Establishing A Sales Tax on Certain Video Games. , Pub. L. No. HB-5735 (2013). Retrieved from http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/CGABillStatus/CGAbillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=HB5735
Phillips Erb, K. (2013, February 17). Newtown Lawmaker Proposes “Sin Tax” On Violent Video Games.Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2013/02/17/newtown-lawmaker-proposes-sin-tax-on-violent-video-games/
Sherry, J. L. (2001). The Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggression: A Meta-Analysis. Human Communication Research, 27(3), 409–31.
Squire, K. (2005). Toward a Media Literacy For Games. Telemedium, 52(1 & 2), 9–15.

Current Workshop Members:
Amanda Cote (accote@umich.edu)- University of Michigan Dept. of Communication Studies
Julia Lange (jglange@umich.edu)- University of Michigan Dept. of Communication Studies
Dimitrios Pavlounis (dpavloun@umich.edu)- University of Michigan Dept. of Screen Arts and Cultures

Call for Participants:
We are looking for two additional participants interested in discussing the key points in this debate (ex. violence and aggression, media self-regulation, the First Amendment) and other significant game-related topics, to explore various industry and gamer responses students should know.  Participants should be prepared to propose strategies and assignments for the pedagogy of video games and media literacy, and to explore perspectives related to teaching game studies in different disciplines and at different levels of education.

If interested, please email Amanda (accote@umich.edu) with your bio and a brief description of what you would like to discuss/contribute to this workshop (approx.. 500 words).  The submission deadline for this workshop is Friday, August 16th.  Thanks for your interest!

Video Games and Comedy
Description: This panel asks for original research on how the forms and effects of comedy are shaped in video games, from sight gags to comedic performance and humorous interactions. How does laughter arise in specific gaming contexts? Do designers conceive certain ways to foster comical situations through the gameplay? How do players adapt their gaming style when they want to make other players laugh, acting as ‘comedians’, instead of winning the game? Are satire, irony or parody suitable terms to relate to gaming culture? Both canonical comedy theories (Bakhtin, Bergson, Freud or Pirandello) and film studies research (Carroll, Gunning, Crafton or Horton) offer interesting tools in order to explore such questions, but do these tools match the specific logics of video games? Contributions reflecting on these -and similar- topics will be welcomed.

Deadline for submissions: August 12th
Contact info: Send a title, a summary no longer than 2500 characters, 3-5 bibliographic sources and an author bio no longer than 500 characters to manuelgarin@gmail.com

CFP: The History of Games

I helped host Carl for a talk here at Berkeley last year (regarding his work on gaming and narrative), while he was completing some postdoctoral research at Stanford with Henry Lowood. Though he’s back in Canada now, he and Henry and some other colleagues are organizing the following international conference, and they’re looking for strong representation from the West Coast.

The History of Games International Conference CFP