Transdisciplinary conference at Macromedia University Leipzig | October 19-21, 2023
Deadline: May 15, 2023
In the roughly 50-year history of video games (and thousands of years of analogue games) both artistic and scholarly explorations of ludic phenomena have generated productive outcomes. While the practical side of game design gave the medium its life and offered many adventures for players to partake in, game studies have analysed these worlds, narratives, and games, as well as their social context to create a theoretical and cultural discourse surrounding the medium. How games produce meaning and function as cultural artefacts has been of the forefront of discussion, but also how this, in return, influences the making of games.
The question arises, however, whether these two fields can be seen as isolated enterprises (with one focussing on ‘creation’ while the other on ‘analysis’) or whether they have successfully worked together. After all, game design and theoretical discussions sometimes go hand in hand. There are many game design theories and handbooks, such as Salen and Zimmerman’s, but also artistic works that value a close collaboration between theory and design: for example, Paolo Pedercini’s at Molleindustria, Michael Mateas’ dissertation on interactive drama and the game Façade, Tracy Fullerton’s exploration of ecology in Walden: Life in the Woods, or Anna Anthropy’s account of gender Dys4ia. Most of the examples are from experimental game design, but if we are correct in assuming that theory, practice, avant-garde experimentation, and mass-market productions will sooner or later influence and complement each other, the question arises as to what new challenges will emerge at the intersection of game design and game studies, and how these can benefit from one another instead of creating an unbridgeable gap.
Games are a cultural phenomenon and often evoke controversial discussions that cannot be separated from academic debates. The Last of Us and Hogwarts: Legacy, for example, have generated intense debate about diversity and inclusivity in games and society at large, which points to the mutual influence that games can have regarding their culture, discourse, and design. Games, in other words, are inspired by real-life experiences, but they can equally shape societies through generating discourse and affecting the lives of millions of players.
It is this question, now, that the conference wishes to tackle how game design practice is influenced and shaped by the theoretical discourse surrounding games (whether in fan forums but specifically in academia) and how game studies and design may create a fruitful interplay between theory and practice.
This is more topical than ever, as games have delved into complex issues—such as mental health, politics, utopian and dystopian futures, diversity and gender, ecology and sustainability, monstrosity and posthumanism, etc.—and are exploring trajectories of modern art and fiction to scrutinise and explore the challenges of the contemporary societies, to warn about certain tendencies and, maybe, suggest solutions or pathways into a better future. The experience of play, then, shows a fundamental regenerative appeal to the human psyche—and in this regard, game designers and scholar alike share an ‘artistic responsibility’ to shape our future through creation, discourse, and action. Without game design there are, of course, no game studies, but game studies and culture may equally shape the design of games and society—with a rapidly changing world, facing new challenges such as AI, automation, new forms of warfare, climate change, continuous racism, as well as diversity issues, and so on.
We therefore cordially invite scholars, researchers, and game design professionals to submit proposals for presentations exploring the intersections between game studies and game design—their challenges, future potentials, and prospect of a fruitful dialogue to learn and benefit from each other.
Topics include but are not limited to:
- Games as culture and forms of artistic expression: How games shape human discourse about society and contribute to new forms of game design and development; how they negotiate certain topics such as gender diversity, ecology, AI, human and nonhuman, politics, human philosophy.
- Player experience: Game analytics and player behaviour, preferences, and the multifaceted effects of games and play.
- World building and design: Cultural and ecological constructions and representations of gameworlds and the ways in which these worlds reflect and shape our understanding of reality; how gameworlds negotiate empirical reality, what elements (aesthetic, artistic traditions, etc.) they borrow, and how they re-arrange them in a coherent gameworld.
- Character art and design: Artistic history and cultural expression in character design, diversity, stereotypes and breaking with them; representation of gender, monstrosity, etc., and the impact of these representations on players and society.
- Narrative design: Recurring plot structures, master narratives; how ancient, literary, and transmedia plot structures influence the design of games, and how they shape our understanding of storytelling and ways of communication in the digital age.
- Rules, mechanics, dynamics, …and their relation.
- Systems and ideological or utopian structures: Mechanics as metaphors; games as miniature-labs for systemic confrontations, learning from systems and cultural ramifications; if games can be seen as miniature laboratories that teach systematic thinking, which new ludic developments will influence our established systems? Which new systems will emerge and how may game design help?
- Game production: Investigating the production processes involved in the creation of games, with a focus on the ethical, ecological, social, and political implications of these processes.
- Gaming communities: Intercultural aspects, confrontations, groupings and forum discussions about games and culture and their interaction with game designers.
- Playful communities and gamification practices: The homo ludens as a new labourer and the use of game design elements in non-gaming contexts.
- AI and future technologies: How AI may inform and help game design; how AI may help in the creation of systems and meaning production; questions of authorship, etc.; the potential of virtual and augmented reality for game design and player experience.
- Game accessibility and inclusivity: Examining how game design can be made more accessible to players with disabilities, and how games can promote diversity and inclusivity.
- Aesthetics and design of experimental and independent games: Avant-garde experimentation in games and their theoretical input for game studies; serious games, health games, etc.; examining the impact of these games on players and society.
- Game design research process: Game preproduction and research, and their influence on game design and AAA productions.
Papers for CEEGS 2023 should be submitted as abstracts of approximately 500 words (400 words minimum and 600 words maximum). Each submission needs to be accompanied by a list of references cited within the abstract, which do not count towards the word limit.
You can find more information about the submission and review process on the conference website, www.ceegs.eu.
All submissions will undergo a double-blind peer-review process. Please submit your abstract without any author details, otherwise your submissions cannot be reviewed.
Submission deadline for abstracts: May 15, 2023
Notification of acceptance: July 7, 2023