CFP: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Game Studies

Critical Perspectives on Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Game Studies

A book collection edited by: Jennifer Malkowski (Miami University) and TreaAndrea M. Russworm (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

Due Dates: 7/15/2013 (abstracts); 10/15/2013 (full essays)

Of what significance are questions about identity (race, gender, sexual orientation) to the evolution of video game studies?  Has the trend toward code analysis and platform studies worked to silence, marginalize, or dismiss representational analysis in game studies? Are we at a moment when "representation" has become a dirty word in game studies?

While questions about identity in video games in the popular press are often reduced to divisive debates about violence, hypersexualization, and stereotypes, discussions in scholarly communities about “representation" in games have been limited both in methodological and analytical scope. Recent scholarship largely frames both mainstream and independently produced video games as reproducing ideologies of oppression that have historically dominated more traditional media. This collection seeks a broader range of critical perspectives on representation in game studies. We assert that there is much to say about culture, identity, experience, and representation in games and gaming culture that goes beyond flat assessments of good and bad objects, code vs. image, and form vs. content. In fact, it is our understanding that a focus on race, gender, and/or sexuality need not exclude other factors of production, and it is our belief that such analysis must be accountable to the medium-specificity of video games.

Fans have been active and visible in creating websites and online communities hosted by female, Black, Latino, and queer gamers, and companies like Ubisoft, Bioware, Rockstar, and Bethesda have produced content--including mainstream titles--that seems responsive to the demand for more diversity in digital games. Yet our academic discourse about some of these issues has continued to lag behind.

For this collection, we welcome essays that reinvigorate questions about representation and identity in digital games and game culture. We hope these essays will also contribute new perspectives on conversations in game studies that have often excluded representational analysis (e.g., hardware and programming, historicizing technological transformations, studies of mechanics, form, and game industry studies). We especially encourage submissions on game studies as a discipline and how the various interdisciplinary approaches to studying games have engaged issues related to identity, politics, and representation.

 Suggested essay topics may include (but are not limited to):

     Representation and identity in digital games (including mainstream games, indie and art games, educational games and “gamification” efforts, casual games, etc.)

     Individual games or franchises such as Tomb RaiderMass EffectDragon AgeThe Sims, Afro Samurai, and Grand Theft Auto

     Companies and studios such as Rockstar and Bioware

     Online gaming environments

     Hazing and policing game communities (e.g., Anita Sarkeesian videos and Kickstarter campaign)

     Fandom and fan communities

     Character customization mechanics and role playing

     Code studies


Please submit abstracts (500 words maximum) along with an academic bio and CV to by July 15, 2013.  Final essays will be 6000-7000 words and should be submitted no later than October 15, 2013.  Please address any questions to Jennifer Malkowski and TreaAndrea Russworm to the e-mail listed above.





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