Call for papers: A Decade in Games Studies (GAME – Games as Art, Media, Entertainment, Special issue)

Call for papers: “A Decade in Games Studies”

GAME – Games as Art, Media, Entertainment, Special issue: “A Decade in Games Studies. Critical and reflexive interrogations on digital play and games research”

Deadline for submissions: 28 March 2022

Publication: December 2022 

Edited by Marco Benoit Carbone, Federico Giordano,  Ivan Girina, Ilaria Mariani, Marco Teti

Presentation

With its 10th issue, GAME (www.gamejournal.it) aims to attend to the changes, turns and critical rifts and folds that have taken place during the past decade in the study of games and play. We invite contributions to critically explore, examine, and even challenge and overturn research directions, trends, and both open-ended or arguably dead-end pathways undertaken by scholarship in digital games in any field and across interdisciplinary approaches and methodologies.

Over the past decade, the practices and study of gaming have branched out in multiple directions, consistent with large-scale processes and events of our era. These include accelerated media exchanges, the emergence of social media, and profound societal transformations, along with multiple crises – humanitarian, environmental, economic, political – culminating with the Covid-19 pandemic. The game industries have likewise grown at an accelerated rate in user base and revenues. These years have consequently marked a distinctive phase in gaming cultures, its pervasiveness fuelled by the deep impact of digitisation, the pervasiveness of technologies (Montola/Stenros/Waern, 2009), and convergent media processes on models of production and consumption (Taylor, 2018). The mainstream diffusion of smartphones, tablets, and other digital devices, along with the rise of social media and streaming, have generated new modes of play and spectatorship, production and monetisation, transmedia exchanges, forms of aggregation, and dynamics of cultural distinction, intimately connected to a variety of stratified media ecologies.

The acknowledgement of the affordances and potential benefits of digital play within these broad media transformations, including their socially meaningful and culture-shaping practices, has been accompanied by a growing scrutiny of problematic aspects. Gaming is still often caught in good/bad binary interpretations, even though discourses on digital games have more often overcome the ‘video games violence’ debate and the medium’s traditional framing within moral panic narratives (Markey/Ferguson, 2017) and negative media effects paradigms (Przybylski/Weinstein, 2019). Conversely, potentially ‘positive’ and ‘wholesome’ aspects of the medium have increasingly been highlighted: games have been praised or valued not only for their intrinsic cognitive, affective, cultural, and social potential, but also as an ‘applied’ medium for citizen science, health, and pedagogy. A way of looking at games for lending their mechanics, principles, and ways to a tide of ‘gamified’ applications for use in public and institutional context, such as that of education (Kapp, 2012) or the teaching of history (McCall, 2016), has emerged. 

Meanwhile, researchers have  focused on increasingly stratified contexts of play. The by now capillary and global availability of digital play over a variety of easily accessible platforms has eroded traditional market projections and narrative associating digital play with teen males, while calling for gaming industries to foster diversity in hiring and representation and games scholarship to shift its disciplinary attention towards a complexity of regional scenes, subcultures and scenes, audiences and contexts, and a variety of technological palimpsests and platforms. These processes emerged in parallel with and in the wake of historic movements such as #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter. Scholars, activists, communities, and collectives gravitating around the areas of feminist, LGBTQI+, and BIPOC advocacy and rights and of critical race, feminist, and queer theory (Ruberg, 2019) have reappraised the history and role of subjectivities, audiences, and communities traditionally subjected to toxicity, violence, and discrimination, and framed as at the edges of gaming cultures (Shaw, 2015). Placing increasing scrutiny (Murray, 2017) on the colonial, sexist, gender-normative, ableist, and classist frameworks and ideologies that have historically dominated the medium, the efforts of movements advocating for equality across the world have foregrounded the political impact of digital games and the necessity to interrogate them as elements of hegemonic systems of representations via intersectional approaches (Malkowski/Russworm, 2017). 

This uncovering of the silenced histories of gaming and players has coincided with an increasing attention for historicising the medium from the related perspectives of national productions (Wolf, 2015), emancipatory histories (Kocurek, 2017), critical area studies (Šisler/Švelch/Šlerka, 2017), and postcolonial studies (Mukherjee, 2018), coupled with the rise of a new historicising paradigm. Preceding and accompanying such perspectives, and often intersecting with them, critical approaches have been increasingly focusing on games’ diffraction along the complex planetary flows of power of late stage capitalism (Dyer-Witheford/De Peuter, 2009). These areas of inquiry are placing increasing emphasis on the political and ideological dimensions of play; on the traditional power asymmetries of global gaming histories and their dominant representations; on the place of digital play within logics of information capitalism, where creative prosumer have been rebranded as salaried, gigging, or involuntary labourers playbour (Kücklich, 2005; Goggin, 2011); and on critical evaluation of labour conditions in the global gaming industries and the need for a transnational unionising process.

Medium-specific theoretical and philosophical paradigms have continued to offer reconfigurations of the reach of games studies. Approaches to engagement such as ambient play (Hjorth/Richardson, 2020) and affect theory (Anable, 2018) aim to disentangle body/machine, player/game and code/representation divides, upsetting cannons and undoing the normative understandings of gaming practices. The application of ecological approaches to gaming (Chang, 2019) underscore the importance of conceptualising and addressing a digital-immaterial/material-environmental continuum. Media archaeology methods attend to the material history of the medium (Guins, 2014), making platforms a central consideration in the study of games (Monfort/Bogost, 2009). And as the medium steps into its fifth decade of mainstream consumption, the tendency of the industry to fast-forward into novel technological developments has consigned previous forms and contexts of play to discontinuity and an accelerated risk of oblivion (Newman, 2012). Far from a complete overview, these examples offer a glimpse into the diversity of approaches associated with the study of play.

Over the past fifteen years, game studies have also established itself as an academic field. A key role has been played among others by the DiGRA community, with the recent diversification of regional chapters addressing issues of access to international scholarship and with the promise of challenging traditional global power asymmetries. Journals like Game Studies, Games and Culture, and GAME Journal among others have likewise been invaluable for the definition of an interdisciplinary area of games studies encompassing the broader fields of media, society, and culture. The remit of these venues has often traversed the boundaries of several disciplines, themes, and methods across the arts and humanities, social sciences, technology, and philosophy: as an independent journal, GAME has, for instance, investigated topics as diverse as gamification and the endemic presence of games in our lives; the aesthetics of space in play and games as spatial technologies; gaming communities and subcultures and the social dynamics of play; transmedia relationships between games, film and cinema; games-on-games and reflexive game design; games and music; accessibility and inclusivity; agency in game philosophy and digital media; gaming normativity and taboos in gaming.

Yet, so far, little efforts have been done with the delicate task of historicising such epistemological processes while at the same time offering a self-reflexive look into their construction, the formation of knowledge within the field of game studies, and even how their power asymmetries may be rooted in subtly ideological specific cultural, social and economic frameworks. These may include, among others, the tendency for journals to reproduce issues of linguistic hegemony; the geopolitical asymmetries in which such differences are rooted; the risk of insiderism in relation to established disciplines in the pursuit of specificity; and the alignment of industrial and critical discourses on gaming with naïve rhetorical discourses about progress. In light of these possible epistemological crises, game studies as a field could ask the whys of its focuses and its possible omissions, interrogating its premises and constraints, its achievements and failures, its values and forms of opportunism and complacence.

For this issue, we welcome contributions that chart these and other crucial turns and moments occurred in game studies across these past ten years, with an aim to historicise and map out possible gaps and interstitial spaces of knowledge, while pointing towards urgent and pressing questions.

Possible topics may  include, but are not limited to: 

  • Transformed media ecologies, from streaming practices to the rise of social media gaming, the evolution of platforms, genres, modes, and technological elements of gaming;
  • Ongoing issues of diversity, visibility, equity, ability and class relating to the games industries and player communities; the emergence of queer, feminist, LGBTQI+, BIPOC subjectivities, the deconstruction of “whiteness”, and the rise of post-colonial discourses around gaming;
  • Changes in the politics of the game industries, from production models to issues of labour, in the light of national and transnational, regional and global contexts and processes;
  • The advent of data mining, surveillance and privacy, intellectual property and broad issues of legality and policy-making in games;
  • Changing frames of values in the institutional reception of games and the intersection between games and social and cultural policies;
  • Reflexive and critical approaches to the disciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary study of games, including theoretical paradigms, philosophies of games and play; methods and epistemological frameworks;
  • The institutionalisation of game studies in academia (DiGRA and other fields of study, university departments, educational programmes), the formation of scholarship and knowledge (journals, research projects and grants), its (in)visible centre/periphery structures and power relations;
  • The state of games and memory: issues of preservation, archiving and historicisation  of games and their practices; historiographic approaches and the relationship between games and history;
  • The role played by games studies journals as intellectual and academic projects, including analyses of their contribution to the study of games as well and ones that scrutinise their foci and biases;
  • Emerging reflections on aspects such as agency, processes such a meta-games and reflexive design, or aesthetic/experiential dimensions such as time or space;
  • Transmedia relationships between games and cinema and the broader relations between digital games and all other traditional and digital media and play forms. 

We are welcoming cutting-edge meta-theoretical, historical, and/or empirical studies in English and Italian (as well as creative contributions) placing these and related issues in the context of the past decade, while warmly encouraging submissions by scholars and creatives from traditionally under-represented and marginalised subjectivities and groups.

Please submit 500 words  (excluding references) abstracts to editors@gamejournal.it

Timeline

  • Abstracts submissions: 28 March 2022
  • Notifications of acceptance: 11 April 2022
  • Full papers submission deadline: 29 July 2022
  • Publication: December 2022 

Cited works

 Anable, A., 2018. Playing with feelings: Video games and affect. U of Minnesota Press. 

Bogost, I., 2012. Alien phenomenology, or, what it’s like to be a thing. U of Minnesota Press.

Chang, A.Y., 2019. Playing nature: Ecology in video games (Vol. 58). U of Minnesota Press.

Dyer-Witheford, N. and De Peuter, G., 2009. Games of empire: Global capitalism and video games. U of Minnesota Press.

Goggin, J., 2011. Playbour, farming and leisure. Ephemera: theory & politics in organization, 11(4)

Guins, R., 2014. Game after: A cultural study of video game afterlife. MIT Press.

Hjorth, L. and Richardson, I., 2020. Ambient play. Playful Thinking.

Kapp, Karl M., 2012. The gamification of learning and instruction: game-based methods and strategies for training and education. John Wiley & Sons, 2012.

Keogh, B. and Richardson, I., 2018. Waiting to play: The labour of background games. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 21(1), pp.13-25.

Kocurek, C., (2017.), Brenda Laurel. Pioneering Games for Girls, London: Bloomsbury.

Kücklich, J., 2005. FCJ-025 Precarious Playbour: Modders and the Digital Games Industry. 

Mc Call, J., (2016). Teaching History With Digital Historical Games: An Introduction to the Field and Best Practices. Simulation and Gaming. 47 (7), 517-542.

McGonigal, J., 2011. Reality is broken: Why games make us better and how they can change the world. Penguin.

 Malkowski, J. and Russworm, T, 2017. Gaming representation: Race, gender, and sexuality in video games. Indiana University Press.

Markey, P.M. and Ferguson, C.J., 2017. Moral combat: Why the war on violent video games is wrong. BenBella Books, Inc..

 Montfort, N. and Bogost, I., 2009. Racing the beam: The Atari video computer system. Mit Press.

 Montola, M., Stenros, J. and Waern, A., 2009. Pervasive games: theory and design. CRC Press

 Mukherjee, S. (2018. ), ‘Playing Subaltern:Video Games and Postcolonialism’, Games and Culture, Vol. 13(5), 504-520.

Murray, S., 2017. On video games. The visual politics of race, gender and space.Bloomsbury Publishing.

 Newman, J., 2012. Best before: Videogames, supersession and obsolescence. Routledge.

 Przybylski, A.K. and Weinstein, N., 2019. Violent video game engagement is not associated with adolescents’ aggressive behaviour: evidence from a registered report. Royal Society open science, 6 (2): , p.171474.

 Ruberg, B., 2019. Video games have always been queer. NYU Press.

 Shaw, A., 2015. Gaming at the edge: Sexuality and gender at the margins of gamer culture. U of Minnesota Press.

Šisler, V. Švelch, J., Šlerka, J., 2017. Video Games and the Asymmetry of Global Cultural Flows:The Game Industry and Game Culture in Iran and the Czech Republic. International Journal of Communication, 11, 3857–3879.

Taylor, T.L., 2018. Watch me play: Twitch and the rise of game live streaming. Princeton University Press.

 Wolf, M.J. ed., 2015. Video games around the world (pp. 1-16). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

 



Citer ce billet
Fanny Barnabé (2022, 24 mars). Call for papers: A Decade in Games Studies (GAME – Games as Art, Media, Entertainment, Special issue). LPCM. Consulté le 27 février 2024, à l’adresse https://doi.org/10.58079/r2ob

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