CfP: Special Issue of Well Played: Weird Games

What makes for a weird game? Weird might be aesthetic or thematic, for example, we can play as animals at the end of the world in Tokyo Jungle or wage war on disease from the inside in Rex Ronan – Experimental Surgeon. Weird might be in the mechanics or the nature of the interaction as we are asked to strike awkward poses in Wario Ware Smooth Moves, stab at peas with forks or pluck hairs from onions to the beat in Rhythm Tengoku and ping at the bikini straps of surgically enhanced ladies with a demonically possessed scarf in Freak Out. The weird might be in the authorial voice or the design ethos as with the La La Land games, the titles by the Arcane Kids and 505 Games’ Simple Series. Weird can be produced by the player: the hackers, griefers, cheaters and the spoil sports. Weird may be accidental in the form of the glitch, or, the weirdness of videogames might be inherent as even  the ‘normal’ things we find ourselves doing in games such as collecting, shooting, powering up and dying repeatedly are, in fact, rather weird. In this way, the weirdest of games are perhaps those which represent the banal and the everyday like Street Sweeper Simulator.

Videogames do weird in a variety of ways as Chris Charla’s excellent Incredibly Strange Games zine celebrates. In much the same vein the Seriously Weird Edition aims to take weird seriously, inviting interrogations and celebrations of weird games to demonstrate how they can be wonderful and, of course, well played.

Contributions may be in post-play narrative or critical essay form. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • • Weird tales – Are there Weird games in the sense of the literary tradition? And how is the Weird evoked in gameplay?
  • • Weird textuality – bizarre premises, strange execution, weird mechanics, unplayable games and not games. How does weird become part of a well played experience?
  • • Zany aesthetics – the work of Siane Ngai and Daniel Harris to videogame form with critical considerations of ‘zaniness’ as a popular contemporary aesthetic.
  • • Weird histories – disposable games (shovelware and abandonware), forgotten or lost games, impact games (E.T the Extraterrestrial).
  • • Strange play – Greifing, glitchhunting, player communities (Glorious Trainwrecks).
  • • Bad games  – as a guilty pleasure, a genuine pleasure, or as interesting design. Is there a ‘b-grade’ game?
  • • Incredibly Strange criticism – critiques focusing on transferring the Incredibly Strange rubric to the study of games and works which explore ‘weird’ as a vector for analysis.
ETC Press is accepting submissions for this special issue of the Well Played journal.
All submissions for v3n2 are due 31 March 2014 (5pm (EST).
All submissions and questions should be sent to:
drew ( at ) andrew ( dot ) cmu ( dot ) edu
For more information and formatting guidelines, visit:
The Well Played Journal is a forum for in-depth close readings of video games that parse out the various meanings to be found in the experience of playing a game.  It is a reviewed journal open to submissions that will be released on a regular basis.
Contributors are encouraged to analyze sequences in a game in detail in order to illustrate and interpret how the various components of a game can come together to create a fulfilling playing experience unique to this medium. Through contributors, the journal will provide a variety of perspectives on the value of games.
The goal of the journal is to continue developing and defining a literacy of games as well as a sense of their value as an experience. Video games are a complex medium that merits careful interpretation and insightful analysis. By inviting contributors to look closely at video games and the experience of playing them, we hope to expand the discussion, and show how games are well played in a variety of ways.
The ETC Press is an academic and open-source publishing imprint that distributes its work in print, electronic and digital form. Inviting readers to contribute to and create versions of each publication, ETC Press fosters a community of collaborative authorship and dialogue across media. ETC Press represents an experiment and an evolution in publishing, bridging virtual and physical media to redefine the future of publication.
ISSN 2164-344X (Print)
ISSN 2164-3458 (Online)

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