Playing with the Rules: The Ethics of Playing, Researching, and Teaching Games in the Writing Classroom

deadline for submissions: 
May 1, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Matthew Johnson / SIUE
contact email: 

We invite contributions for Playing with the Rules: The Ethics of Playing, Researching, and Teaching Games in the Writing Classroom


We seek proposals for an edited collection that explores intersections between ethos and playing/researching/teaching games (board to video) in the writing classroom. Games have ethical implications: they are influenced by and impart particular values. Teaching and research have their own (sometimes conflicting) values. As Rhetoric and Writing scholarship and pedagogy integrate game-based learning, gamification, and game design into the classroom, studying how ethos, values, and morality impact gaming, academic, and public domains is important. How are games taught, played, and researched and what are the ethical systems at play in doing so?


Contributors to Playing with the Rules: The Ethics of Playing, Researching, and Teaching Games in the Writing Classroom will analyze how ethos (the ethics and values by which teachers, players, students, and characters operate and are constructed) functions in game scholarship and rhetoric/writing pedagogy involving ludology (the study of games, fun, and play). We invite academic essays and empirical studies from writing and rhetoric teacher-scholars on the topic of ethos in playing, designing, researching, and teaching games.


We envision the book in three sections: 1) ethics of play, of design, and ethos construction in games and gaming cultures; 2) game-based research and scholarly ethics; 3) and ethical approaches to teaching rhetoric and writing with games.


Ethics of Play: Ethos, Design, and Player Agency

  • How is ethos procedurally and representationally constructed in games through avatar representation, game mechanics, rules, narratives, etc.?
  • In what ways do gamers resist and/or submit to ethos constructions in games, especially when they do not align with their own personal values?
  • In what ways do games construct and restrict rhetorical agency for players? How do players create rhetorical agency for themselves as games necessarily restrict it?
  • How do gamers construct credibility for themselves in their discourse in and around games?
  • What is the ethos of using badges or other reward systems in gamification?


Ethics of Scholarship: Researching Games, Gamers, and Gaming

  • What is our responsibility as scholars researching games and gamers in public and confidential forums?
  • What are the implications of IRB in online spaces?
  • How do we negotiate additional legal layers such as EULAs and NDAs when bringing game designers, resources, and artifacts into our courses?
  • In what ways can students responsibly research game cultures and spaces?
  • What are the implications of using the “free” tools, interfaces, and portals of for-profit corporations in our research (e.g., YouTube, Twitch, GoogleDocs)


Ethics of Game-based and Gamification Writing Pedagogy:

  • How do teachers ethically use game-based pedagogy when some students may feel/be marginalized by it?
  • How can teachers ethically frame and teach difficult topics – such as violence, sexism, and racism – in games?
  • How do teachers include and empower female gamers (with consideration to outside-of-the-classroom phenomenon like Gamer Gate), ESL students, students with disabilities, students with economic and technological access issues, and other minority students?
  • What are the ethical implications of using badges or other reward systems within a gamified writing pedagogy? How does a gamified writing pedagogy affect students? How does a gamified writing pedagogy affect marginalized students?


Please send your 500–1200-word proposals with your name, institutional affiliation, and contact information via email to Matthew S. S. Johnson <> AND Richard & Rebekah Colby <>. Queries welcome.


Deadline for proposals is May 1, 2018.  Final manuscript length will be approximately 15-35 pages (standard, double-spaced).