CFP: DiGRA 2015

Call for papers: DiGRA 2015

Diversity of play: Games – Cultures – Identities
14-17 May 2015, Lüneburg, Germany

Video game culture has had a self-image of being a distinct cultural form united by participants identifying themselves as ‘gamers’ for many years. Variations in this identity have been perceived either in relation to preferred platform or level of commitment and skill (newbie, casual, core, pro, etc.). Today the popularity of games has increased dramatically, games have become more specialized and gaming is taking place in a number of divergent practices, from e-sport to gamification. In addition, the gamer position includes a number of roles and identities such as: players, learners, time-fillers, users, fans, roleplayers, theory crafters, speed runners, etc. Furthermore, techniques like gamification and game-based learning, as well as the playful use of computer simulation for training purposes, is making it difficult to distinguish games from non-games.

Additionally, video game culture is merging with other forms of popular culture and new mobile technologies are making distinctions between digital and non-digital gaming blurred. Yet, whilst the forms of play seem to have become more diverse, the content of games is often only challenged by independent titles. This is the case despite a maturing audience, some of whom now seem to urge for more diverse themes and representations within games. In the light of increasing criticism of the representations and practices that have dominated much of games culture, it seems that the relationship between the identity of the ‘gamer’ and the content of games is undergoing a change.

Traditionally, game studies has tried to find common ground, seeking shared definitions and epistemologies. DiGRA 2015 seeks to encourage questions about the ‘Diversity of play’, with a focus on the multiple different forms, practices and identities labeled as games and/or game culture. The conference aims to address the challenge of studying and documenting games, gaming and gamers, in a time when these categories are becoming so general and/or contested, that they might risk losing all meaning. Given this, what concepts do we need to develop in order for our research to be cumulative and how do we give justice to the diverse forms of play found in different games and game cultures?

As in the previous year, DiGRA 2015 will accept submissions in five categories: full papers, abstracts, panel, workshops, and events. All submissions will be peer-reviewed using double blind reviewing. In addition, all submissions will receive a meta review and authors of rejected full papers will have the possibility to send a rebuttal if they perceive they have been given biased or uninformed reviewers. The conference welcomes submissions on a wide range of topics, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Game cultures
  • Games and intersections with other cultural forms
  • Online gaming and communication in game worlds
  • Gender and gaming
  • Games as representation
  • Minority groups and gaming
  • Childhood and gaming
  • The gaming industry and independent games
  • Game journalism
  • Gaming in non-leisure settings
  • Applications of game studies in other domains
  • Gamification
  • System perspectives and mathematical game theory
  • Hybrid games and non-digital games
  • Game design characteristics
  • Technological systems
  • Simulations


  • Submission deadlines 22 January (hard deadline)
  • Acceptance/rejection notification 16 March
  • Rebuttal deadline 19 March
  • Camera ready deadline 14 April

Location & Date

14-17 May 2015

Lüneburg, Germany
At Campus of Leuphana University of Lüneburg
Scharnhorststr. 1
D-21335 Lüneburg
For more information and the latest updates regarding the DiGRA 2015 conference, see

Program Chairs
Staffan Björk
Jonas Linderoth

European Summer School in Games and Play Studies

Next two weeks will be intensive time in Utrecht, the Netherlands, as “Identity and Interdisciplinarity in Games and Play Research”, the joint European Summer School of games and play studies takes place at the Utrecht University. My keynote takes place first in Monday, August 18th, and it is titled “From Interdisciplinarity to Identity and Back: The Dual Character of Academic Game Studies”. More information and full program is available at:

Analog Game Studies

Analog Game Studies (Dice Photo by Dave Ward)
Analog Game Studies (Dice Photo by Dave Ward)

Digital games are not everything there is in games, far from it. There is now a new journal, Analog Game Studies, for all of us interested in board games, table-top role-playing games, card games — I think that actually means most of contemporary game scholars. There has been long-standing discussion that the name of DiGRA should be changed to “GRA” instead (taking “Digital” away from its dominating position of games research), but information technologies sure has been a catalyst for some interesting developments in the field of game cultures, as well as in industry, of course. When there are more dedicated venues of the different forms which games and play are realized in, then we can more clearly see the universals, as well as the particularities, of these specific forms. Link: .

Philosophy of Computer Games 2014 CFP: Freedom in Play

8th International Conference on the Philosophy of Computer Games
Freedom in Play

Istanbul, 13-15 November 2014


Abstracts deadline: 15 August 2014


We hereby invite scholars in any field of studies who take a professional interest in the philosophy of computer games to submit papers to the 8th International Conference on the Philosophy of Computer Games, to be held in Istanbul 13-15 November 2014.

The concept of freedom is central in the shaping of game experiences and game cultures. It is a lens through which we can critically evaluate the philosophical, cultural and political relevance of computer games, as an art form and as a way of life. This year we especially invite papers that address the following areas of philosophical investigation:

1. The nature of freedom in games. Which philosophical concepts can help us clarify ontological and metaphysical dimensions of freedom in games and gaming?
2. The experience of freedom in games. How do we describe and evaluate specific experiences of freedom in play? Are certain types of freedoms in games artistically or ethically more desirable than others? In what way may such evaluations collide when people play together, especially in an on-line context?
3. Games and existential concepts of freedom. In what ways are games capable of expressing truths about the human condition? Is there a way in which they are inherently more or less capable of expressing ethical and normative truths than cinema, photography or art? How do we account for the semantic underpinnings of how games can create this sort of knowledge?
4. Political and ethical freedom. In what way can game mechanics or the social roles of gaming provide normative reasons for decision-making with regard to political freedom, gender issues, etc? Do computer games have a particular potential for being either politically conservative, progressive or subversive?

Accepted papers will have a clear focus on philosophy and philosophical issues in relation to computer games. They will refer to specific examples from computer games rather than merely invoke them in general terms.

In addition to papers that are directed at the main theme we invite a smaller number of papers in an “open” category. We are especially interested in papers that aim to continue discussions from earlier conferences in this series.

The abstracts should have a maximum 1000 words including bibliography. Please note if you intend your paper to fit in the “open” category.  The deadline for submissions is Midnight GMT, 15 August, 2014. Please submit your abstract through  All submitted abstracts will be subject to double blind peer review. Notification of accepted submissions will be sent out by 15 September 2014. A full paper draft must then be submitted by 6th November 2014 and will be made available on the conference website.

We also invite proposals for panels/workshops on October 12th. Please contact the programme committee chair if you are interested in organising one.


Tonguc Ibrahim Sezen, Istanbul Bilgi University (organising committee chair)
Rune Klevjer, University of Bergen (programme committee chair)

Game Studies: a polyphonic discipline?

Critical Evaluation of Game Studies: Bart Simon
Critical Evaluation of Game Studies: Bart Simon

The Critical Evaluation of Game Studies seminar closed today, leaving a full house of tired but intellectually stimulated games scholars to debate and reflect on the outcomes and overall synthesis of the varied papers and discussions. One of the threads of the discussion concerned the identity and character of Game Studies (or “game studies”, or: games research? Or: ludology, even?) In his keynote, Espen Aarseth talked about Game Studies as a field, and argued (with explicit comment against my earlier published views) that a “discipline” is something that he particularly does not want to see Game Studies developing into.

This particular, anti-disciplinary view can in a way be grounded on the existing polyphony in this field: there has not emerged any single, unified school of thought that would encompass everything that is going around games and play in academia. On the other hand, one could also – again following Espen – argue that a discipline that produces its own undergraduates as well as postgraduates would need a more solid methodological basis, and also more established work market to guarantee the employment of such “native graduates”. (Sebastian Deterding had an interesting analysis and proposal in his paper, suggesting that since there are not much guarantees of employment, or not so many well-established publication venues in the “core” areas of Game Studies, people are escaping back to more established academic fields, such as HCI or Communication Studies, which have already opened up for games related research, and provide more institutional work opportunities – and that Game Studies should merge with Design Research so that it would have better opportunities for survival.) Or, one could follow Bart Simon who in his speech talked about the “unseriousness” inherent in games and play as an object of study, and go against the instrumentalization and reification of disciplinary knowledge by principle.

While I see the point of all these, well-grounded arguments, I just want to emphasize again that Game Studies needs both dimensions and movements: both the elements that pull people towards each other and focus at organizing the knowledge production and educational activities in Game Studies into some, hopefully rather unified wholes, as well as more interdisciplinary elements that fertilize and stimulate the growth of new approaches and innovations – both within Game Studies, as well as in other fields of learning. While there is enough anarchist in most game scholars today to make us stand up and go against any attempt at governance or “central control” in this daring, iconoclastic intellectual project that has been set into motion, it is also important, I think, to carry enough responsibility to aim at positive conditions for such project, and sometimes this will also require setting up “disciplinary versions” of the fast-moving research field, so that it can engage with various academic institutions and neighbouring disciplines at even terms. While such “freeze frame” simplifications of the field probably always do some violence to the plurality, coverage and dynamism of Game Studies, they are probably necessary illusions that we also need. Textbooks, lectures and articles are all good places to construct such, identity creating moments of Game Studies, as well as for deconstructing and questioning them. After the seminar, I think that the deconstructionist momentum is currently stronger than the constructivist one, but it just may be my impression.

In any case, I came out of the seminar invigorated and energized, believing even more that before to the need and enormous potential Game Studies has to offer, not only to academia, but also to the surrounding society. If we do not try to fit together and negotiate the multiple aspects that complicate the superficial, commonplace perceptions of what games are, or what game playing means, who is going to do that? Also, I do not think that the other academic disciplines that I know about are that much more unified, or less polyphonic than Game Studies is, actually. As years and decades go past, academics tend to question the truths of their fields from multiple angles, and come up with dozens of different, mutually competing and incompatible theories and approaches into their fields of inquiry. And that is a very good thing. Long live Game Studies, one and many!

Pelitutkimuksen vuosikirja 2013

[The Finnish Yearbook of Game Studies 2013 is out]

Peliväkivaltaa, propagandaa ja virtuaaliurheilua – uusi Pelitutkimuksen vuosikirja ilmestynyt

Pelitutkimuksen vuosikirja 2013 on ilmestynyt sähköisenä osoitteessa

Vuosikirjassa tarkastellaan niin pelaamisen historiaa, nykytilannetta kuin tulevaisuuttakin.

Pelitutkimuksen vuosikirja on vertaisarvioitu, avoin tiedejulkaisu. Pelitutkimus on sekä monitieteinen tutkimusala että nuori akateeminen oppiaine, jonka parissa toimivien tutkijoiden huomion keskiössä on digitaalisten pelien erityisluonne. Nyt julkaistussa, järjestyksessään viidennessä vuosikirjassa, käsitellään suomalaisen peliteollisuuden kehityskaaria, peliväkivaltakeskustelua mediassa, peleihin liittyvää fanitoimintaa niin politiikan kuin urheilun alueilla, pelejä ja oppimista sekä tietokonepelien naishahmoja. Vuosikirjassa esitellään ja analysoidaan myös 35 pelitutkimuksen kotimaista väitöskirjaa ja hahmotetaan kuvaa alan tutkimustyön kehityssuunnista.

Markku Reunasen, Mikko Heinosen ja Manu Pärssisen suomalaisen pelituotannon historiaa käsittelevä artikkeli osoittaa, millaisia nousuja ja laskuja suomalaisessa digitaalisten pelien tuotannossa on ollut viimeisten vuosikymmenien aikana. Suomalaiset pelintekijät ovat tuottaneet vain vähän pelejä konsoleille ja keskittyneet etenkin viime vuosina mobiilipeleihin. Suomalaiset pelintekijät ovat tehneet pelityypeistä eniten pulmapelejä ja toimintapelejä.

Tero Pasanen ja Jonne Arjoranta käsittelevät omassa artikkelissaan peliväkivaltaa sitä koskevan julkisen keskustelun kautta. Heidän analysoimissaan sanomalehtien verkkoartikkeleissa korostuivat erityisesti joukkosurmia, aggressiivisuutta ja väkivaltaista käytöstä sekä valvontaa ja vastuuta korostavat elementit. Koska Pasanen ja Arjoranta olivat rajanneet aineistonsa väkivaltaisia pelejä koskeviin artikkeleihin, oli varsin luonnollista että kielteiset elementit korostuivat. Samalla jutuissa oli kuitenkin myös myönteisiä teemoja, ja tutkijoiden mukaan keskustelussa ilmenneiden mielipiteiden kirjo oli yllättävänkin runsas.

Ave Randviir-Vellamo tarkastelee Venäjän presidenttiä tukevaa Like Putin -verkkopeliä osallistuvan propagandan muotona. Randviir-Vellamo näkee pelissä yhteyksiä venäläisessä populaarikulttuurissa jo pitkään vaikuttaneeseen Putin-henkilökulttiin ja päätyy pitämään sitä esimerkkinä uudenlaisesta poliittisesta faniudesta.

Pelitutkimuksen vuosikirjan päätoimittaja on professori Jaakko Suominen Turun yliopistosta. Toimituskuntaan kuuluvat lisäksi professorit Raine Koskimaa (Jyväskylän yliopisto) sekä Frans Mäyrä (Tampereen yliopisto), yliopistonlehtori Petri Saarikoski (Turun yliopisto) ja yliopistotutkija Olli Sotamaa (Tampereen yliopisto).

Lisätietoja: Jaakko Suominen,, 02-333 8100

Pelitutkimuksen vuosikirjan 2013 sisällys

Toimituskunta: Johdanto. i-ii.


J. Tuomas Harviainen ja Timo Lainema: Pelit, systeemidynamiikka ja oppiminen. 1-12.

Markku Reunanen, Mikko Heinonen ja Manu Pärssinen: Suomalaisen peliteollisuuden valtavirtaa ja sivupolkuja. 13-28.

Tero Pasanen ja Jonne Arjoranta: “Kuka tarvitsee netin sotapelejä?” – Väkivaltaisten pelien diskurssit suomalaisessa verkkomediassa. 29-57.

Ave Randviir-Vellamo: Like Putin: Videopeliesimerkki osallistuvasta propagandasta. 58-72.

Olli Sotamaa: Arkipäivän fantasiaa: taidosta, faniudesta ja pelirytmistä fantasiajalkapallossa. 73-91.


Olli Sotamaa: Kokemuksia avoimesta arvioinnista – tapaus fantasialiiga. 93-98.

Usva Friman: Digitaalisten pelien naishahmoesitykset ja niiden tutkimus. 99-108.

Olli Sotamaa ja Jaakko Suominen: Suomalainen pelitutkimus vuosina 1998–2012 julkaistujen peliväitöskirjojen valossa. 109-121.

Esittelyt ja arviot

Olli Sotamaa: Jani Niipola, Pelisukupolvi: Suomalainen menestystarina Max Paynestä Angry Birdsiin. 122-124.

Frans Mäyrä, Jaakko Suominen ja Raine Koskimaa: Pelitutkimuksen paikat: pelien tutkimuksen asettuminen kotimaiseen yliopistokenttään – Osa yksi: Jyväskylän, Tampereen ja Turun yliopistot. 125-133.

Gaming around the World, Multiplayer book

Multiplayer: The Social Aspects of Digital Gaming
Multiplayer: The Social Aspects of Digital Gaming

Our co-authored chapter “Multiplayer Gaming Around the World” is now published in the book Multiplayer: The Social Aspects of Digital Gaming. The volume is published by Routledge and edited by Thorsten Quandt and Sonja Kröger. Our chapter includes some first comparative demographic analyses of game playing in different parts of the world: Germany, Finland, Belgium, and Singapore. There are 20 interesting chapters in the volume, and you can have a more detailed look here:

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