CfP: Games against Players (April 14-15, 2019, Vilnius, Lithuania)

Inviting you to the third international event on game studies in Lithuania – the Games against Players conference.

The conference is a 2 day event aimed at students and young scholars of media studies, cultural studies and social sciences. It will take place on April 14-15, 2019, at European Humanities Universit (Vilnius, Lithuania).

The event is organized by Games & Scholars (Vilnius) in partnership with the Laboratory for Computer Games at the Research Center for Mediaphilosophy (Saint Petersburg) and the Laboratory of Studies of Visual Culture and Contemporary Art (European Humanities University, Vilnius). The conference became possible thanks to support from the Department of Social Sciences of EHU.

The conference invites game researchers, critics and designers to talk about violence in games on a higher conceptual level than the usual media discourse.

Inviting scholars to discuss following topics and cases:

♦ The game is broken: glitch in media studies,
♦ Difficulty level: impossible (tortureware, exploitationware, masocore games),
♦ Gamer theory:  violent games vs. real world oppression,
♦ The good, the bad and the ugly: provocative aesthetics of indie games,
♦ Horror and the non-human: the violent Other,
♦ Exploitative game design and its moral implications, and other related topics.

They are particularly interested in cases when the game takes the initiative from players and makes them do, see or feel things they would not consent to in a different context. Violence, in this case, is understood as uncontrollable disruption of player’s experience. The simplest example, as mundane as it could be, is Flappy Bird, which wobbly controls reportedly made its players smash their phones. That Dragon, Cancer is a more elaborate example of gameplay violence: game’s deceptive affordances frustrate the player in dramatic situations when manipulations with available objects do not produce any results. On the storyline level, disturbing and baffling Doki Doki Literature Club is a violently subversive example. Finally, visual violence comes in many forms in video games, from hyperrealistic gore in horror games to the intricate art of glitch. In the latter case, the game as an automated medium goes rogue and accidentally creates situations which the human practice fails to control.

The question is: why does the game go on, even if it abuses the player? And even deeper: how violence in games produce the epistemological rupture in the playing process? What analytical perspectives can we apply to such cases? Who is being violent, and why? Is it media technology at large, or should we look for violence in the player’s gaze? How can we compare the horror of video games to the horror of other media? May we suggest that all games are violent when they punish players for not following their rules? They will discuss this, and similar questions, after the talks and during panel discussions.

Submission for abstracts will be open on February 19, 2019, via an online form.


Registration will be closed of March 15 for those participants who need a visa to travel to Lithuania. The deadline may be extended until March 31 for those participants who don’t need a visa to travel to Lithuania.

The final decision about the program and submitted talk will be made before April 1, and the authors of all submissions will be notified about the result of reviewing process.

The organizers provide visa support and discount prices on accommodation to the accepted speakers.

Articles based on presentations at the workshop will be recommended for publication in the game studies issue of the university’s academic journals, Crossroads. Crossroads is included into EBSCO-CEEAS (Central & Eastern European Academic Source) and indexed in the MLA International Bibliography.

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