CfP: Reconstruction 14.1: The Undead Arcade (to be published March 2014)

This special issue of Reconstruction seeks explorations of the world, practices, histories and possibilities of the Video Arcade and associated spaces in the 20th and 21st centuries. The Video Arcade has recently been described, in both popular and scholarly works, as “dead” and yet it retains a curious vitality and visibility. From Wreck it Ralph and TRON: Legacy to Dave & Buster’s and Barcade, the video arcade is at once both dead and alive, a topic both for misty-eyed backward glances and innovative entrepreneurial revival. This paradoxical state of affairs makes the arcade both a difficult and important object for scholarly inquiry, one that demands a diversity of approaches, methods and perspectives. We invite you to participate in the process of critically assessing the Video Arcade’s unique cultural position through this special issue.

We welcome scholarly essays from any disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspective that touch on the concept of the Video Arcade. How might we make sense of the video arcade in the broader context of public amusements and youth culture? What might arcade as object of nostalgic longing tell us about technology, spectatorship, and culture, and what are the theoretical limitations of examining the arcade through this lens? What can be learned from critical engagement with cabinet-boards as platforms, or with cabinets as designed objects, furniture, or novelites? Through these and related queries, this special issue asks contributors to consider both what the Video Arcade was and what it has become over time and the intersections of the arcade’s past and present.

  • Suggested topics include but are not limited to:
  • Comparative studies of international arcades, both contemporary and historic
  • Video arcades’ ongoing relationship to home console and/or mobile play
  • Family entertainment centers/restaurants (Chuck E Cheese’s), arcade-bars (Barcade) and other relative and/or successor spaces.
  • “Ports” and adaptations into and out of arcades
  • Historical cartographies and geographies of arcades
  • Arcade economies (financial, affective, ludic, etc.)
  • Competitive and/or collaborative play in the Arcade, and associated cultures
  • Arcade and arcade cabinet recreation, preservation and collecting (private and/or institutional)
  • Arcade representation in film and television
  • Video Arcades and the Arcades Project
  • Identification around and through the arcade, including considerations of age, race, gender, and socioeconomic class

Completed essays of up to 7,000 words or reviews of books, events, films, exhibits, places or other forms that may be of interest to the readership should be submitted by November 1, 2013 to Inquiries in advance of submission are also welcome.

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