SCMS 2018 Pre-Constituted Panel Call for Papers

Please find below a list of game-related panels seeking participants for the Society for Cinema and Media Studies annual conference in Toronto, Wednesday March 14 to Sunday March 18, 2018. Proposals should be submitted directly to the panel organizers — please note that deadlines vary. Panel organizers are responsible for reviewing, compiling, and submitting final proposals by the SCMS deadline of Thursday August 31st, 2017, through the SCMS website at http://www.cmstudies.org.
This list is compiled annually by the SCMS Video Game Studies Scholarly Interest Group (VGSSIG), and is intended to help increase the profile of game-related research at the conference. The VGSSIG is not involved in the review or selection of papers, panels, or workshops.

SCMS 2018 Pre-Constituted Panel Call for Papers:

Gender Representation in Video Games

The study of representation in video games is a growing area of study, especially since conversations about the cultural ramifications of stereotypical or harmful representation in games have entered popular discourse. The lack of diverse representation of women and minorities in games has been a heated topic of discussion for years and many scholars have noted that developers overwhelmingly privilege white, male, heterosexual subjectivities.
This proposed 3-4 person panel will focus on feminist analyses of gender representation in video games. Although the focus is on gender representation, panelists are encouraged to submit topics that engage in intersectional feminist research. This panel is intended to showcase and disseminate research which supports justice and equity in video games as a creative practice, cultural production, and representational medium. Suggested topics could include (but are not limited to):

  • -applying feminist media studies close reading techniques to specific games
  • -analysing the appearance of video game characters in games or marketing campaigns using the help from services like this interior signage companies
  • -analysing characters’ gender roles and how they intersect with other aspects of their character design
  • -analysing representations of queer characters
  • -analysing representations of masculinity, parenthood, children, etc.
  • Please submit a 250-300 word abstract to the panel organizer, Sarah Stang, at smstang@yorku.ca by August 11st, 2017. I will get back to you ASAP to let you know if your abstract has been chosen or not so you will have plenty of time before the SCMS final deadline. I hope to collaborate with the panelists to write the panel abstract (and come up with a better title!) so everyone is involved in the process if they want to be.

If you are unsure about where to start, please see the SCMS guide for suggestions on how to write your abstract: http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.cmstudies.org/resource/resmgr/docs/SubmittingaProposaltoSCMSGui.pdf


Play Interpellation and Identification

In considering how games can be structured to make arguments about larger social systems through game mechanics (Bogost 2008) and how players are also agents in the meaning-making processes of play experiences that are structured through games (Sicart 2011), this panel will discuss the ways games invite players to negotiate their identities in games. Examining the cues that are offered to players in video games, such as visuals, music, narrative, and mechanics, allows for the understanding of how the player is to be interpellated into the structure of the game. To draw from Butler (1993), this interpellation points to cited ideologies and is necessary to consider in how players engage in the meaning-making processes of play. How these cues are accepted indicates the extent to which the players take on the subjectivities, thus in Ahmed’s (2009) terms, they become orientators for the player to help situate herself in the game. Furthermore, turning toward or away from these orientators indicates the effectiveness of this cue. So while some players may easily turn towards orientators in games and accept interpellation, others may resist being forced into subjectivities by the game. This panel will investigate cues in games that hail players into particular subjectivities and the meaning-making and affectual results from accepting or resisting interpellation.

Topics may include but are not limited to:

Case studies of particular games

Performativity and citational practices in avatar construction

Reflections on failures in games

Studies on identification in games

Studies on online gaming forms and the construction of subjectivities

Approaches to game design situated from non-normative perspectives

Please send abstracts of 300 words, along with a preliminary bibliography (3-5 sources), and a short author bio (max 100 words) to Michael DeAnda (mdeanda@hawk.iit.edu) by August 8, 2017. Selected proposals will be notified by August 14, 2017.

***************Utility, Accessibility, Mythology: Technical Purposes of Introductory and Archival Game Content

Organizers: Daniel Reardon and David Wright, Missouri University of Science and Technology
Deadline for Abstracts: August 11, 2017
Email: reardond@mst.edu

Establishing rules of play, offering guidelines for game play, and grounding players in a fictional universe: digital games often include content that attempts to set parameters for the game’s spaces and players.  Introductory cinematic cut-scenes, tutorials, opening sequences, and even archives that the player discovers early in gameplay all serve to orient the player, and create parameters for play.  Henton (2012) calls these game media and materials “a complex set of theoretical signifiers to illuminate not only utilitarian but also metaphorical and mythological registers” (p. 71). The “utilitarian” nature of game introductory content, play tips, and archival material suggests a practical and organizational function of game tutorials and data, but their “mythological” nature suggests a complex series of interactions with these game features.  This game content may therefore invite explorations of purpose and intentionality by both game designers and by players.

The panel proposal’s organizers invite scholars to submit SCMS 2018 abstracts for this proposed panel, which will explore introductory game content, play tips and hints, and game archives as technical material.  According to the Society for Technical Communication (STC) definition, technical communicators “make information more useable and accessible to those who need that information, and in doing so, they advance the goals of the companies or organizations that employ them.” (STC 2017).  A game’s introductory media and/or content, and/or a game’s archival material may provide players with the means to enter game spaces or continue game play; to develop a weltanschauung of the game’s locations, inhabitants, and created spaces; or to provide a game’s designer with directive or persuasive avenues.  Thus, contention regarding intentionality might exist between designer and player from a game’s beginning moments.
Questions to explore regarding introductory game content and/or archival material as technical data:
·        What is the purpose of the media, both inherent and implied?  Does the content exist or contend in spaces beyond the media’s most obvious purpose?
·        How is introductory game media and/or archival material directed for a particular type of player?  What does the media/material assume about its audience?  In what ways does the media/material exclude or marginalize some players?
·        What boundaries or “rules” are established by a game’s introductory media/material?
·        How does the introductory media/archival material “advance the goals of the companies or organizations that employ them”? (STC 2017)
·        How is introductory media/archival material used as persuasive tools in a game?
·        How does the introductory media/archival material establish game states, or intended/implicit worldviews or weltanschauungen for players?
·        Does the game offer ways to resist the introductory material and/or archives, or resist stated/implied goals of introductory media/archival material?
·        How does ancillary, out-of-game content such as wikis, tutorials, walkthroughs, “Let’s Play” and other video content supplement, subvert or resist in-game media/archival materials?
Possible topics include but are not limited to:
·        Opening cinematic cut-scenes
·        Game tutorials
·        In-game tips and hints
·        Character creation screens and guidelines
·        Game world history and lore
·        Imported game save content
·        Wikis
·        Discussion boards/forums regarding introductory/archival game data
·        “Let’s Play” videos
·        Commentary videos

Send 250-300 word abstracts to Dan Reardon at reardond@mst.edu by August 11, 2017.
Please also include a 100-word biography with your proposal.

Henton, A. (2012). Game and narrative in Dragon Age: Origins: Playing the digital archive in rpgs. The Digital Role-Playing Game. Ed. Vorhees, G.; Call, J.; & Whitlock, K. NY: Continuum. 66-87.

Society for Technical Communication. 2017. Defining technical communication. Retrieved from https://www.stc.org/about-stc/defining-technical-communication/.

***************Hacking and Making the Digital Era

Melanie Swalwell, Maria B. Garda, David Murphy

We seek proposals for papers on user hacking and making with a range of analog and digital media/technologies in a variety of temporal and regional contexts. From model railroad clubs in North America to coffee shops in India, technologies are being repurposed and reimagined through an expanding set of practices which require coding and engineering knowledge that users are not supposed to have. And while the Maker Movement would like us to accept its rhetoric of rupture and discontinuity (Hatch 2014), current user practices are not without precedent, so we are interested in placing them into longer historical arcs. As such, we invite papers that explore aesthetic, social, cultural, policy/political, and legal etc aspects of user hacking and making, or parallel practices on the peripheral of the current discourse. Both contemporary and historical case studies are welcome, and dialogue between the past, present, and future is encouraged.

Possible research questions include:
•       What are the contemporary correlates of early digital hardware hacking?
•       How useful is it to identify certain platforms, e.g. Raspberry Pi, as the ‘spiritual successors’ to 1980s microcomputing practice? When does the analogy break down?
•       How ought the relation between hardware and software be conceptualised, when hacking is under discussion?
•       How do the motivations of different actors such as hackers, makers, crafters, etc compare and intersect? How should any tensions between these be understood?
•       To what extent are concerns about privacy motivating new levels of user (dis)engagement with creative computing?
•       What about DRM? Is it driving new levels of (dis)engagement, or greater interest in the open-source hardware movement?
•       How do user practices relate to ecological concerns, such as thrift, and the repair and fix-it movements?
•       Do practices differ by locale, and if so, how?
•       Do hacker and maker cultures intersect with game and meta game activities, and dark and light forms of play?
•       What new frontiers are being explored using the hacker and maker mindset? Where are the boundaries of the current discourse?

Abstracts will also be considered for an edited volume.

Please send up to 2500 character (max) abstracts with 3-5 supporting bibliographic references to melanie.swalwell@flinders.edu.au by August 12, 2017.


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