The fourth installment of the Playing the Field conference series in American Studies focuses on video game politics in any sense of the phrase: the representation of concrete or abstract political concerns or processes in games; politics as gameplay or an aspect of interactivity; the politics and economics of game production and consumption in global capitalism; games as political tools or media of ideology; the politics of video game historiography; the imagination of identity in games in terms of nationality, gender, ethnicity, etc.; the discursive politicization of games or their construction as non-political spaces; the political aspects of gamer culture and technology; the environmental impact of gaming; politics in game design and game didactics; the relation of video games to popular culture and its politics; the politics of video game journalism; and many, many more. While there can be no doubt that video games are political, it is absolutely necessary to talk about how they are political.
The mission of the Playing the Field research initiative is to foster video game research, to connect scholars across disciplines, career stages, and borders, and to provide a public space for conversations about current issues that are relevant in and beyond academia. While we are based in American Studies, we welcome interdisciplinary connections of any kind, always mindful of the key question of methodology at the heart of this endeavor: how can our respective fields study video games, and how does the study of video games change our fields? With this particular thematic focus, one might add: What are the institutional, structural, or personal politics of studying video games in any given framework today? How do video games change our notions of the political?
If you would like to present a paper at the conference, please submit a proposal of no more than 300 words. You may also propose an entire panel of three connected papers. If you would like to discuss your work in progress in an informal small-group workshop at the conference, please submit a proposal of no more than 500 words.
The deadline for all submissions is December 15, 2023. Please send your proposal along with a brief biographical statement to Sascha Pöhlmann at sascha.poehlmanntu-dortmundde.
The keynote speaker at the conference will be Christopher A. Paul, professor of Communication and Media at Seattle University, USA, and the author of Free-to-Play: Mobile Video Games, Bias, and Norms (MIT Press, 2020), Real Games: What’s Legitimate and What’s Not in Contemporary Video Games (with Mia Consalvo, MIT Press, 2019), The Toxic Meritocracy of Video Games: Why Gaming Culture Is the Worst (University of Minnesota Press, 2018), and Wordplay and the Discourse of Video Games: Analyzing Words, Design, and Play (Routledge, 2012). His latest monograph is the forthcoming Optimizing Play: Why Theorycrafting Breaks Games and How to Fix It (MIT Press, 2024).