CfP: Computer Games and Technical Communication: Critical Methods & Applications at the Intersection (Edited Collection)

CfP: Computer Games and Technical Communication: Critical Methods & Applications at the Intersection (Edited Collection)

This book collection of essays investigates the multiple intersections between the study of computer games and the discipline of Technical and Professional Writing for both research and pedagogical purposes. At the most basic level of this intersection is the simple observation that games are both technical and symbolic. The gaming industry pushes technological innovation through complex dialectics amongst large and small game developers, hardware developers, distributors, consumers, hackers, congress people, journalists, ESRB raters, parents, IP lawyers, and many others besides. Further, computer games are symbolically communicative, relying on written, verbal, visual, algorithmic, audio, and kinesthetic information to convey information. Technical and Professional Writing scholars are uniquely poised to investigate this intersection between the technical and symbolic aspects of the computer game complex.

More after the jump

To add to this observation is recent research in the ways in which computer games proceduralize learning and processes. In his book Persuasive Games, Ian Bogost writes “Procedurality refers to a way of creating, explaining, or understanding processes. And Processes define the way things work: the methods, techniques, and logics that drive the operation of systems from mechanical systems like engines to organizational systems like high schools to conceptual systems like religious faith. Rhetoric refers to the effective and persuasive expression. Procedural rhetoric, then, is a practice of using processes persuasively” (2-3). The idea that processes are rhetorical is nothing new in the field of technical and professional writing. However, with this emphasis on procedurality in games studies comes an ethical critique as articulated by Sicart’s “Against Procedurality.” Sicart’s argument calls attention to the formalist understanding of games as oppressive systems, and game studies as a whole would be better served by remembering players as heterogeneous interlocutors in complex processes. At this intersection, we see a struggle between the ideology of rules (static expressions) and play (free expressions).

In addition to these primary intersections, there are a number of other intersections that this book will explore, including the following:

* Games are database-driven: they collect massive amounts of data from players and their interactions.
* Games are procedural: they are rule-based systems that encourage players to test their boundaries. This testing behavior encourages hacking culture and provides insight into mobile and ubiquitous computing, user experience design, and usability.
* Games are used to train workers and students.
* Games are technically produced; they go through a rigorous development process that relies on specialized documentation and testing.
* Gaming cultures provide avenues for community and identity formation for technical and professional communicators to research and participate in.
* Gamification, or the process of turning everyday activities into games in order to compare worker productivity, student learning, or similar, is fast becoming big business.

Questions that authors might consider:

Production and Pedagogy

* What types of documentation support computer games as technical artifacts?
* What do the documentation practices in the computer games industry have something to instruct Technical and Professional Writing as a field?
* Who are the actors in game-based documentation (technical writers, fans, game developers, etc.) and how do they shape the intersection of games and technical writing?
* How might race, gender, age, and sexual orientation play out in the computer game complex as they particularly intersect with documentation?
* How does the increasingly globalized production and circulation of computer games affect documentation practices? How might national markets and globalized markets work in conjunction or against one another complicate the types of communication that occur? What might professional writers in this field need to do to navigate the dynamic workplaces engendered by these tensions?


* How are computer games used to teach technical writing? What are the strengths of the medium for teaching? What are the weaknesses of the medium for teaching technical and professional writing in particular?
* Several scholars and game developers advocate gamification as an inherently advantageous pedagogy. What happens when gamification fails? When is it not advantageous?
* How can games be used to teach procedural approaches to complex activities (in lieu of manuals, for example)?

User Testing and Playtesting

* What are the similarities and differences between usability testing and playtesting?
* What can Technical and Professional Writing as a field learn from playtesting?

Research Methods & Ethics

* What methodologies can researchers employ at the intersection of games studies and technical writing? How might these methodologies account for the complexities of production, global circulation, and participatory consumption?
* What are the ethical considerations concerning ownership, power, participatory culture, and content that researchers in technical writing should consider in game studies?

Please provide the editors with a 250-word abstract of your proposal by September 12th, 2012. Full drafts of accepted articles will be required by March 15th, 2013. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the editors: Jennifer deWinter at and Ryan Moeller at

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