DiGRA 2024: the Call for Papers is out!

DiGRA 2024 will take place in Guadalajara, Mexico, 1–5 July 2024. A pre-conference will be held on the first day of the conference, on Monday 1st of July, together with a PhD Consortium and Workshops.

The theme of the conference is ‘Playgrounds.’

Throughout human history, play activities have happened more likely in some places rather than others, and specifically demarcated areas for gameplay have existed for millennia. Remains of the ball court of the Mesoamerican ballgame pok-ta-pok date back to 1376 BCE (Smith 2020), and from historical records dating back more than a thousand years we know that the Chinese cuju and the Japanese kemari necessitated a dedicated space for play.

In a narrower Western sense, playgrounds usually denote places for children to play safely in a confined space separated from the dangers of traffic. Playgrounds in this sense were first built in the 1850s industrial England, where curated spaces for child play were inspired by German educator Friedrich Fröbel’s innovative equipment and devices specifically designed to facilitate play.

In many parts of the world, playgrounds have since come to occupy a fundamental role in building human social capacities and cultural habituation. Johan Huizinga uses the concept to describe all kinds of areas of play such as arenas, stages, screens, and the like, and suggests that they “are temporary worlds within the ordinary world, dedicated to the performance of an act apart” (1998 [1938], 10).

Today, ‘playground’ has multiple meanings. Jon Winder (2023, 135) points out that the term can refer to any place of recreation, public or private, and does not necessarily describe a site specifically meant for children. Current understanding approaches playgrounds as paradox spaces merging physical and virtual worlds into one or several different realities. The 21st century – the “ludic century” (Zimmerman and Chaplin 2013) – deconstructs the concept so that “almost any space can become a playground” (Sicart 2014, 7).

In the age of computers and digital play, the concept of playground is shifting again. Digital games involve many aspects of traditional play spaces and culture, but at the same time, physical playgrounds with sunlight and nature incorporate aspects of digital play in their design. Today it is games played in urban spaces, those merged together with exercise functions, and digitally enhanced children’s playgrounds that challenge the contrasting of playgrounds and games. Looking specifically at children’s play, Seth Giddings (2014, 118) argues that playgrounds today are simultaneously pre-digital and post-digital as well as material and immaterial.

Furthermore, we have ‘sandbox games’, ‘open world games’, and ‘adventure games’ – to name a few established video game genres that bear similarity to the operations and appeal of playgrounds. These have all paved the ground for the topical idea of the metaverse, a 4D representation of a playground accessible through VR goggles and a headset.

While symbolising openness, structured freedom, and creativity, playgrounds are not only places of romantic unhindered joy. Digital and analogue playgrounds are places that urge us to ask questions related to their creation, management, and accessibility, for instance. On the one hand, they may be unwelcoming to marginalised identities in terms of race, gender, class, and sexuality. Aaron Trammell (2023, 60) points out how the “rules of the playground are different for kids with different backgrounds.” Phenomena such as hate speech, (online) bullying, and toxic gamer culture suggest that playgrounds may also give rise to forms of dark play where the rules of the game are constantly debated and renegotiated in favour of one group over others. On the other hand, these spaces may also be taken over, appropriated, and turned into sites of carnival.

What will be the benefit of looking into digital play through the concept of playground? Could games research gain from the insights of educators, designers, and childhood researchers to better understand what facilitates open-ended play?

These topics and reflections require research on games and play to help us make sense of how future trends will affect our societies. Nurturing the ongoing discussion between different generations using digital playgrounds from the past 40 years is essential to understanding the development of analogue and digital games for the decades to come.

In this year’s edition of the DiGRA conference, we seek inspiration and theoretical support from the study and form of playgrounds. This adds a particular interest in child play and therefore invites experts who have experience in this area. Moreover, the playground metaphor can be used in framing design explorations and generally experimental approaches to game and play research, as well.

We want to encourage scholarly reflection on all the diverse ways games and play act as spaces of possibility between disparate realities. Suggested themes include but are not limited to:

  • ontological approaches to games as playgrounds;
  • playground aesthetics of digital play and games;
  • games of the future: avantgarde and digital playgrounds;
  • games as media/media as games;
  • genres and generations: the limits of the experience;
  • virtual and augmented reality experiences;
  • games as playgrounds of new social realities;
  • queerness in games, playgrounds of queerness;
  • playing with sexuality;
  • hegemony of play;
  • playgrounds of game development;
  • playgrounds for identity/identification;
  • digital playground politics;
  • games as texts: playing with literature;
  • local/regional playground histories and game studies;
  • flaneurism, contemplation, and archaeogaming;
  • automation in and of playgrounds;
  • evolution of playgrounds in digital games;
  • children and digital games as playgrounds.

With the theme of playgrounds, DiGRA 2024 makes space for an interdisciplinary critical debate around a plethora of interconnected topics, inviting a diversity of voices and perspectives. As games and playful practices continue to shape both dominant and resisting forces in society, game studies must keep looking into playgrounds not only as objects of study, but in wider social, cultural, and political contexts. This creates potentials for interdisciplinary exchange, methodical variety, and multifaceted critique. DiGRA 2024 welcomes contributions on different game formats, expressions, and phenomena both related to digital and non-digital games.

Submissions are invited into seven tracks:

  • Game History and Cultural Context: explorations of game histories, contemporary game cultures, and regional game studies.
  • Game Design, Production, and Distribution: reflections on making and research creation, processes of production and design, and the games market.
  • Game Analyses, Criticism, and Interpretation: analyses, close-readings, and critical discussions of game texts.
  • Play and Players: empirical research on play and playful behaviour, players, fandom, and game communities.
  • Philosophy and Theory of Play & Games: theoretical frameworks and investigations of games and play phenomena as well as metareflection on game studies methods and practices.
  • Serious Games and Education: research on games and play for learning, education, and therapy, and other applications beyond game studies
  • Child Play: research on aesthetics, phenomenologies, politics, ecologies, technologies, materialities, sociologies, cultures, and pedagogies that refer specifically to the games, play, and playgrounds of children.

There will be several special events associated with the conference, including a PhD Consortium. It will be organised on the pre-conference day, and it will allow PhD students to discuss key issues, benefit from peer support, and seek feedback from experienced scholars.

To submit your proposal, please go to the DiGRA 2024 website and follow the instructions therein:

The organisers also look forward to receiving panels and thematic workshop proposals (see submission guidelines below).

We welcome a range of contributions to DiGRA 2024: full papers, extended abstracts, panels, doctoral consortium participation, workshop proposals as well as experimental submissions.

Submission Guidelines

Full papers and extended abstracts will be peer-reviewed, published on the conference website, and published in the conference proceedings available via open-access through the DiGRA Digital Library. Panel proposals will be peer-reviewed and published on the conference website, but will not be included in the conference proceedings published through the DiGRA Digital Library. Workshop proposals will be selected by the conference organisers based on non-anonymous submissions.

All except workshop submissions should be made via EasyChair. Workshop proposals should be sent directly to the conference email: info@digraconference2024.org.

Authors are asked to direct questions to the program chairs: Tanja Sihvonen (tanja.sihvonen@uwasa.fi), Sebastian Möring (sm@sebastianmoering.com), and Ruth S. Contreras (ruth.contreras@uvic.cat).

Full Paper

Full papers are expected to be 5000-7000 words plus references, submitted as an anonymized PDF on DiGRA 2024 Submission Template. Please note that this is a new template and it is mandatory to use it. Submissions must be original, which means that they have not been published or are not under peer review elsewhere.

Full papers are peer-reviewed publications of original game studies research, presenting mature, complete research. Authors must present accepted full papers at the DiGRA conference. Accepted manuscripts will appear in the Proceedings of the 2024 DiGRA International Conference, which is published in the open access DiGRA Digital Library.

Extended Abstract

The suggested length for an extended abstract is 500-800 words, with a maximum of 1000 words, excluding references (only key references should be included). Extended abstracts should be submitted as an anonymised PDF using the DiGRA 2024 Submission Template. Please note that this is a new template and it is mandatory to use it. A short description of the paper’s topic needs to be provided in the abstract field of the conference management system, but there is no need for extended abstracts to contain an abstract.

The purpose of an extended abstract is to demonstrate a contribution interesting to DiGRA audiences. An extended abstract might describe a study or research program that is underway but might also describe a pending program of research. It might outline findings, or it might establish and discuss a research question. It might describe the study’s method or methodology, or it might focus on outcomes and results. It might describe work that is planned, work that is in progress or work that has been completed.

Accepted extended abstracts will appear in open access DiGRA Digital Library.

PhD Consortium Submission

Selection for the PhD consortium will be based on an extended abstract based on an ongoing PhD research project, with a maximum of 1000 words, excluding references (see Extended Abstract guidelines above). They should be submitted to PhD Consortium track, as NON-anonymised PDF, with a short description in the abstract field of the conference management system (there is no need for a doctoral consortium application to have an abstract).

Submissions must use the DiGRA 2024 Submission Template.


A panel is a collaborative and rather flexible format in which several authors have a chance to present their work on a shared interest. Panels will typically occupy a single conference session and have a duration of 80 to 90 minutes. Panel proposals should have a maximum length of 1000 words, excluding references, plus a 100-word biography of each participant. They should include the focus or topic of the panel, a description of why the topic will be of interest or relevant to DiGRA attendees, a list of confirmed participants, and a brief description of their background and expertise.

Please note that this submission type should NOT be anonymous as the organisers’ background is very important in the decision-making process for panels. Panel proposals will be reviewed by a committee consisting of track chairs and programme chairs. Panels should be submitted as PDFs using the DiGRA 2024 Submission Template.


The conference workshops are 3-6 hours long sessions focused on a particular game-related topic. Workshops provide an opportunity for new ideas, theories, and emerging trends to be presented and discussed. Workshops can also be practical tutorials.

Concise workshop proposals of no more than 1000 words (excluding bibliography) should include major objectives and expected outcomes of the workshop, the justification for the workshop informed by current trends and research, the format and activities planned for the workshop, the organisers’ background, the anticipated number of participants, and the way they will be selected.

Please note that this submission type should NOT be anonymous as the organisers’ background is very important in the decision-making process for workshops. Submit workshop proposals directly by email to workshops@digraconference2024.org by 30 January 2024.

Experimental submission

This submission category is a new addition to the traditional list of accepted submission types in the DiGRA conference. It is especially meant for novel, artistic, creative, and unorthodox submissions to game studies. These can take the form of games, game art, design experiments, code, screenshots, interactive narrative, and so on. This category of submissions speaks to those who wish to contribute to the conference in other than textual or verbal form such as coders, designers, artists, wanderers between design and theory, among others.

An experimental contribution may be related to an existing problem or body of work in game studies, or it can aim at broadening the scope of game research in some way. In 2024, in its inaugural year, this category is rather roughly defined. We are happy to hear feedback on it and continue the discussion on defining it further.

As experimental submissions can take many forms, there are no strict formatting requirements. Please note that this submission type should NOT be anonymous. Experimental submissions will be reviewed by a committee consisting of track chairs and programme chairs, and as far as possible, they will also be openly (non-blind) and collaboratively peer-reviewed by relevant experts. A limited set of submission file types will be accepted. The selected works will be presented during the 2024 conference and mentioned in the program without any publication of written work.

At this stage, experimental submissions should be described in text and/or metatext and submitted as PDFs using the DiGRA 2024 Submission Template.

Number of submissions per author

Authors can have a presence in up to three submissions in total inclusive of extended abstracts, full papers, panel submissions, and/or experimental contributions. This limit also includes the PhD Consortium submissions. Hence, an individual’s name can appear in a maximum of three submissions, and the order of authors’ names or presenting authors is irrelevant. If this limit is exceeded, only the first three submissions will be reviewed. The limit does not include workshop proposals or participation in workshops.
Remote participation

Virtual participation in the conference will be accommodated through streaming and video submissions. People presenting at the conference will be asked to submit a pre-recorded video of their presentation and join the conference online for a live session of questions and answers after the presentation. For viewing the conference online, all paper sessions, panels, and keynotes as well as the opening and closing sessions will be streamed live. Time zone differences will be taken into account whenever possible but comfortable presentation slots cannot be guaranteed.


Giddings, S. 2014. Gameworlds. Virtual Media and Children’s Everyday Play. New York, London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Huizinga, J.1998. Homo Ludens. A Study of the Play-Element in Culture. London: Routledge.

Sicart, M. 2014. Play Matters. Playful Thinking. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Smith, K. N. 2020. “3,400-Year-Old Mesoamerican Ball Court Sheds Light on Origins of the Game.” Ars Technica. March 25, 2020. https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/03/3400-year-old-mesoamerican-ball-court-sheds-light-on-origins-of-the-game/

Trammell, A. 2023. Repairing Play: A Black Phenomenology. Playful Thinking. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Winder, J. 2023. “Revisiting the playground: Charles Wicksteed, play equipment and public spaces for children in early twentieth-century Britain.” Urban History, 50(1), 134–151. doi:10.1017/S0963926821000687.

Zimmerman, E. and Chaplin. H. 2013. “Manifesto: The 21st Century Will Be Defined By Games.” Kotaku. September 9, 2013. https://kotaku.com/manifesto-the-21st-century-will-be-defined-by-games-1275355204

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