CfP: SCMS 2015: game-related panels

Please find below a list of conveners seeking participants for game-related pre-constituted panels at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies annual conference in Montreal, March 25-29, 2015. Panel conveners will be in charge of vetting, compiling, and submitting final proposals by the SCMS deadline of August 29th, 2014, through the SCMS website at cmstudies.org
As in previous years, once SCMS has peer-reviewed all applications and announced which panels have been accepted to the conference, the Video Game Studies Scholarly Interest Group co-chairs will select up to 8 game-related panels for sponsorship, which will be highlighted in the program.
Harrison Gish and Felan Parker
VGSSIG Co-Chairs
Diana Pozo and John Vanderhoef
VGSSIG Graduate Student Representatives
Working Title: Alt Keys: Non-Normative Sexualities in Video Games
Panelists:  Meghan Blythe Adams (University of Western Ontario) and Dr. Nathan Rumbukkana (Wilfrid Laurier University), Emma Vossen (University of Waterloo)
Description: This panel aims to explore depictions of sexuality in video games and gaming culture, specifically in terms of non-normative sexualities and player agency. At this time, two papers are confirmed and the panel is looking for either an additional panelist and a respondent or two additional panelists. Our first paper, contributed by Meghan Blythe Adams and Dr. Nathan Rambukkana will present initial results from an ongoing project on non-monogamy in video games. This paper will examine tropes of non-monogamy in video games, particularly contrasting player-enacted non-monogamy in MMOs such as World of Warcraft and non-monogamy as an element of game and story design in recent RPGs like The Witcher. Our second paper, contributed by Emma Vossen will compare applications of play within the magic circles of gaming cultures and BDSM cultures. This paper will combine the work of traditional play theorists with modern feminist BDSM theory to consider ‘griefing’ and trash-talking practices in gaming circles in light of BDSM culture’s focus on enthusiastic consent in order to outline potential lessons gaming culture can learn from play practices in BDSM.
We welcome potential panelists interested in presenting on non-normative sexualities in video gaming, or in board gaming. Potential possible topics range from game content to player culture and we welcome papers in early or experimental stages.  Interested parties can contact Meghan Blythe Adams at madams42@uwo.ca by August 15th at the latest.
“Game History and the Local”
Game history did not unfold in the same manner everywhere, and the particularities of space and place matter.  Recent work suggests that gaming culture continues to exhibit local differences even though the industry is in many ways thoroughly global.  Given the great historic diversity of games and contexts for their play, an appreciation of socio-cultural and geographic specificity is important to develop if other histories are to be told, for instance, from the ‘periphery’ rather than the ‘center’.  This panel seeks contributions from scholars who are interested in reflecting on aspects of the local and geography in relation to Game History.  Papers might engage with the shape and detail of local game histories, present comparative snapshots of game history/technologies/practices across diverse locales, or reflect on production, distribution, consumption, magazines, cultural memory, etc with a local underpinning.  Many approaches are possible and these suggestions are not intended to be definitive, but the panel might work best if each paper incorporates some reflection on the critical potential of such historical work.  Where are the audiences for locally focused scholarship?  Do such approaches have explanatory power beyond the local, or will they forever remain on the margins?  What does such work have to contribute and how might it encourage a maturation of historical work around games?
Please send 250 word abstracts for papers to Melanie Swalwell melanie.swalwell@flinders.edu.au by 13th August.
Minecraft Panel
The Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference
Montreal, Canada
25 March – 29 March, 2015
This panel will explore Minecraft from a variety of perspectives that fall under the umbrella of Video Game Studies. Suggested topics include:
Education (formal and informal uses)
Player-generated content and mods
Impact of Minecraft on Game Design/Culture
Minecraft and Architecture
Music and Sound
Development/history of Minecraft and Mojang
Send abstract (2500 characters max), 2-3 bibliographic sources, & 1 paragraph bio to Lori Landay, Professor of Cultural Studies, Berklee College of Music llanday@berklee.edu by August 10, 2014.  Proposers will be notified by August 18 if their paper will be included on the panel.
Spaces of Play: Geographies and Cartographies of Games and Gaming
SCMS 2015, Montreal
Deadline: August 10th, 2014
The field of virtual geography and game mapping is as expansive and multifaceted as virtual worlds themselves. The history of games is rife with histories of the ways in which players explore them, from mazes and dungeons to descriptive spaces in text adventures. Game spaces invite both detailed route‐planning and virtual dérives reminiscent of filmic city symphonies like Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera, while the criticism orbiting game worlds ranges from fan practices like screen-stitching to commercial designs of massive online spaces. This panel will build upon the rich foundations of game geography research, spatial theory, and virtual cartography. We invite abstract proposals for papers that address and expand upon work being done on the following topics:
• Practices of constructing virtual environments in game development
• Player and NPC circulation through game worlds
• Player mapping practices both within and external to game worlds
• Maps, compasses, and HUDs
• Player guides and other cartographic paratexts
• Fan maps, geographic modding, and level editors
• Limited vision and omnipresence
• Virtual geography and digital representations of real-world locations
• Transmedia geographies
• Political economies in digital space (Lefevbre)
• Walkthroughs and let’s‐plays
• 2D and 3D digital environments
• Art practices and spatial documentation in games
• Race, conflict, and territorial strategies
• Urban planning in game spaces
• Psychogeographies of game worlds
Please send abstracts of 300 words accompanied by a 100-word bio to kalervo.sinervo@gmail.com by August 10th, 2014. Responses to successful submissions will be sent out no later than August 18th.
Still Night at the Museum?
As the entertainment software industry keeps pushing the limits of immersive interactions, one also needs to consider the space in front of the screen, where users now have far more sophisticated input devices at their disposal than QWERTY-legacy keyboards. Aside from the runaway success of WIMP as developed at XeroxPARC, it should be remembered that gaming started with keyboards on devices such as the Atari 400/800 and the Sinclair Spectrum, only to be supplemented with joysticks and controllers later. Their history is the history of the digital age, but where are they now, who knows their design, their features and functions? Mostly forgotten are the Nintendo PowerGlove and the Sony EyeToy, or the numerous other input and control devices – whether it be using a Light Pen on the Vectrex in 1982 (long before the stylus of the Nintendo DS or a finger on the Apple iPad), or gestural interfaces from the Pantomation in 1977 on, long before the more recent gestural interfaces of the Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Kinect. Where are those devices now? Who has seen and used them? What is known about their design, their development, their distribution, their successes and failures, and what could be learned from them?
Computer history draws audiences into museums and collections by prominently featuring computer games. As each of these still relatively young institutions strives to outgrow its narrow origins in corporate or hobby collections and to offer a broad and systematic history of computing, they strive to preserve and comprehend the story of the information age. But the history of gaming is still caught up in the dubious consolations of timelines that are often inaccurate and incomplete. Most name as the first computer game with a graphic display William Higinbotham’s “Tennis for Two” at Brookhaven National Labs in 1958, when in fact the Nixdorf Forum holds a digital game console that dates to 1951. Many popular and academic sources still claim that Max Mathews at Bell Labs was the first to make a computer sing in 1961, though a Ferranti Mark One at Manchester, England, was recorded by the BBC in 1951 singing “In the Mood”. The proposed panel seeks to stimulate a conversation on games in the context of museum pedagogy, collection and acquisition management, and the contested public presence of gaming history.  Send in your abstracts for talks and help shape the discussion!
Deadline for submissions: August 15, 2014
Contact info: Peter Krapp, UC Irvine, krapp@uci.edu
Video Games and Permadeath
It has become a cliché that games are attractive to players as forms of risk management—they can venture out with avatars because even if they get wounded or killed, the game allows you to continue from the point of failure. And right away we are confronted with the next “entrepreneurial” cliché—that what one learns from mistakes is not their avoidance but the allowance for some room for error. Even in more extreme cases such as the game Braid, death itself is nullified and removed in order to elevate the logic of puzzle solving over the thrill of potential (and sometimes devastating) failure. But what if games did not allow for easy recovery, continuance, and persistence of accumulated resources and identity?
Yet, this is nothing new. Permanent death or permadeath (PD) was widespread in the early days of video games and coin-op machines before being considered a “dead-end” for game design and going “underground” (e.g. in roguelike games). Yet PD has recently respawned and is experiencing a renaissance with the release of games such as Heavy Rain, DayZ, Don’t Starve, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, One Chance and others. Why is this the case? What does PD teach us about the current state of game culture and its future? How does PD illuminate the history of video games?
This panel will not only explore what perspectives PD games open up in terms of game design, the psychology of play, and interactive narrative in single-player games, but we also seek proposals for detailed discussions of why PD is less prevalent in multi-player games (though this might be changing), and what limitations the option imposes on what is (or is not) likely to be a part of designing playable characters in the future. Proposals should discuss at least one concrete example of PD in video games in some detail.
Some potential ideas (though certainly not exhaustive):
The history of PD
PD and narrative
PD and avatar identification
Cultural determinates of the rise of contemporary PD
Player preservation vs. player persistence
PD as a difficulty setting (hardcore mode in Minecraft, Diablo, etc., or as a player imposed goal such as a “no death run”)
Player responses to PD
“Save scumming”
PD as an emerging genre (as opposed to PD as a feature across game genres)
PD as a feature of roguelike games (or part of “The Berlin Interpretation” of such games)
The concept of PD in relation to ideas/concepts such as thrill, tension, frustration, failure, risk and mastery
A close reading/playing of a game related to PD
Deadline for proposals: August 15, 2014
Contact information:
Braxton Soderman, UC Irvine asoderma@uci.edu
or Peter Krapp, UC Irvine krapp@uci.edu

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