CFP: Videogames and the Alien/Other (2/1/06; 4/7/06-4/8/06)

full name / name of organization: 
zach whalen
contact email: 

CFP : Video Games and the Alien / Other

Call for Papers: "The Alien/Other"
Second Annual University of Florida Game Studies Conference
Gainesville, FL
April 7-8, 2006

The University of Florida's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is
pleased to announce the 2006 UF Game Studies Conference: "Video Games
and the Alien/Other," which will be held in Gainesville, Florida, on
April 7-8 2006.

Keynote Speaker: Lee Sheldon (writing credits include _Agatha Christie:
And then there were none_ [The Adventure Company], _Uru: Ages beyond
Myst_ [Cyan], _The Riddle of Master Lu_, and _Dark Side of the Moon_.)

This conference seeks to explore the figure of the Alien and the Other
and the various ways it has been employed in video games. Since the
original _Space Invaders_, video games have frequently construed
difference as the site of conflict and conflict as the principle
operation of the individual fighting alone against a hostile Universe.
In this game, for example, the aliens which invade the earth are marked
as Other by their bodies, and their hostility toward the earth is a
foregone conclusion of their difference.

In a different sense, video game quest narratives often position
the player-character as an outsider working to protect the status quo
(e.g. Link in the Zelda series) or destroy it (e.g. the various
protagonists in the Grand Theft Auto series). More generally, one
marker of success in any electronic text is the ability for its
programmatic characters to overcome the othering difference of the
game's diegesis by exhibiting a high degree of autonomy or human-like
individuality. Further, even in their construction of in-game avatars
and representations of Alien bodies, many games truncate marks of
difference into one monolithic form of otherness, eliding race, gender
and religious diversity. Thus, the figure of the alien or other
occupies the space of difference in video games in a variety of positive
and negative ways which are above all complex renderings of otherness
within a specific.
This second annual Game Studies conference will focus on the theme of
the Alien/Other. In particular, we seek to emphasize the
technological, social, and cultural construction of identity and the
Alien or Other in and through video game texts.

This conference will examine these constructions as oriented around
several key themes:

* Player-Characters and the role of the outsider
* Gaming cultures and subcultures
* Gender, race, religion and the avatar
* Monstrosity and avatars
* Otherness and online societies (e.g. MMORPG's)
* Technology as Othering
* Designing the Alien/Other through AI and NPCs
* Video game villains and anti-heroes

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

* The Other and the industry -- the role of independent game
* Localization and the alleged erasure of cultural difference through
  video games.
* Marketing and approaching new demographics.
* Becoming the Other in online role-playing communities.
* Colonialism and Orientalism within historical simulations.
* The representation (or lack) of religious pluralism in video games.
* Representations of race, gender, and/or sexual preference in games.
* The Evolution of the Alien/Other in games.
* Becoming Other -- choosing a path in _KOTOR_ or _Black and White_.
* Subversive game play.
* Psychoanalysis, video games and the other/Other.
* Becoming Alien/Other in online games: how players function as others to
  other players.
* Alien/Other and the differences inherent in console or interface
* Close studies of specific Alien/Others and tropes of Alien/Otherness.

Abstract submissions should be approximately 250-500 words in length.
Presentations will be 15 minutes with 5 minutes of question and answer

The deadline for abstract submissions is Friday, February 1, 2005.

Submissions may be emailed to (preferred) or
sent in hard copy to

Zach Whalen
Department of English
Univ. of Florida
4008 Turlington Hall
P.O. Box 117310
Gainesville, FL 32611-7310

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Received on Tue Nov 29 2005 - 16:28:04 EST