CfP: Game-related panel participants for SCMS Conference

The SCMS Video Game Studies Scholarly Interest Group is once again pleased to circulate a compilation of game-related panels looking for participants for the upcoming 2014 conference, March 19 through March 23 at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel in Seattle, WA.
Please see below this message for summaries and contact information about the following 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

It is the responsibility of panel chairs collect abstracts and submit the final proposals to SCMS for consideration, before the deadline of August 30th. More information about the conference can be found here: http://www.cmstudies.org/?page=call_for_submissions

We would also encourage any and all game scholars to submit their work to SCMS, either to the open call or as part of a pre-constituted panel. More information about the VGSSIG can be found here: http://www.cmstudies.org/?page=groups_videogames
Once SCMS releases the list of accepted panels, the VGSSIG is allowed to sponsor a number of the game-relation panels, which will receive special billing in the conference program. Stay tuned for more details in the Fall!

More details on the panels:


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

  • Machinima/machinimators

  • 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 DutyTomb 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 Birds to 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. SmallvilleArrow)
  • 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:


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


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