CfP: Game History Annual Symposium 2014 (Montreal, Canada)

In spite of preservation and accessibility issues, the history of video games has become a topic of interest for a growing community of scholars and museum curators around the world. In Digital Play (2003), Stephen Kline, Greig de Peuter and Nick Dyer-Witheford invited us to understand video games as a complex network of interactions between industrial structures, technological innovations and sociocultural exchanges. In doing so, they also provided us with a useful tool to map out which areas have been explored more thoroughly, and which have been left out.

Montreal, Canada: June 27th-28th 2014

Submission deadline: January 24th 2014

Link to PDF document:

Many historical accounts, from Kent’s Ultimate History (2001) to Dillon’s Golden Age (2011), document the key moments of the technological and industrial circuits. Built from hundreds of interviews with famous industry figures, and journalistic pieces that often echo the official marketing documents of major corporations, these accounts often feel like another voice in a choir of techno-industrial glorification. Video game historians working in academia have started to engage these two circuits more extensively: Greenwood’s The Video Game Explosion (2008) and The Platform Studies series from MIT Press being just a few examples. However, the socio-cultural exchange that occurs through the medium of video games, and the evolution of these exchanges, are rarely used as a structuring factor in history books.

Recently, more scholars are feeling drawn to the principles of knowledge archaeology as laid out by Foucault (1969). At its core, media archeology is an incentive to unearth and engage with the materiality of a phenomenon in a way that highlights its underlying tropes and ideologies. In doing so, the discipline is contributing to the expansion of our knowledge and critical appreciation of the cultural history of video games, and by extension of gaming activities. The first edition of the Game History Annual Symposium aims to stimulate research on this cultural history. Along with media historians, the event seeks to integrate sociologists, who might not think of their work as historical in nature. It is clear, however, that the data produced through the observation of gaming communities can only be beneficial to the study of video game history.

We seek to expand our understanding of the communities that forged and continue to forge game culture. The conference will propose two tracks: design histories, and play histories. These communities can be inspected through the material traces such as games, promotional artefacts, manuals and other props, as well as through direct observation or interviews. Thus, scholars from a variety of disciplines, such as media history, communication studies, cultural studies and sociology should feel welcome to submit. In gathering specialists from many fields, we hope to create a dynamic research environment to study the multiple communities that define gaming culture throughout history.

This conference is presented in partnership with Université de Montréal, Ludiciné, Homo Ludens (UQAM), TAG (Concordia University) and Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.

Invited speakers
▫ Tristan Donovan (Replay, 2010)
▫ Mia Consalvo (Canada Research Chair in Game Studies & Design)
▫ John Szczepaniak (The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers, 2014)
▫ Philippe Ulrich (Captain Blood; Dune; founder of Cryo)

Cultural events
▫ Game exhibition (curator: Skot Deeming)
▫ Concert by L’orchestre de jeux vidéo (Pollack hall, Mcgill University)

▫ Special hotel rates for conference participants
▫ Centrally located near the subway and Quartier des spectacles
▫ 35th Montreal International Jazz Festival

Abstract submission
▫ 800 words plus bibliography
▫ Please indicate which track you want to be part of: design histories / play histories
▫ Submissions will be anonymized and reviewed by the conference chairs for the 2014 edition (Maude Bonenfant, Jonathan Lessard, Martin Picard, Carl Therrien)
▫ Submission deadline: January 24th 2014
▫ Please send to GameHistoryMTL@gmail.com

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