Call for SCMS Members to join proposed Material Play SIG

deadline for submissions: 
October 15, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Society of Cinema and Media Studies
contact email: 

SCMS Members are invited to join a proposal for a new SCMS Scholarly Interest Group (SIG) on Material Play.  An initial roster of at least 30 members is needed for a new SIG proposal to be considered, so if you are interested please send your name and email to  SCMS members may participate in as many SIGs as they like and there are absolutely no obligations to membership (besides being included on the roster and mailing lists).  The provisional mission statement is included below. 

Contact: Jonathan Rey Lee

Part-time Lecturer, University of Washington
Associate Faculty, Cascadia College


Mission Statement

The mission of the Material Play Scholarly Interest Group (SIG) is to support the growing community of scholars interested in the media, practices, and cultures of material play.  This includes exploring how material play is mediated by the design and circulation of play objects (such as toys and tabletop games), embodied play practices (such as live action role-playing, folk games, and sports), and institutions and sites of play (such as playgrounds and schools).  Such material mediations may be considered as media and in dialogue with other media (such as play narratives and transmedia franchising). 

By devoting critical attention to material play, this SIG also aims raise questions that may help refine and expand how we do media studies scholarship.  Although media studies has historically not been centered around the study of material play, materiality and play are at stake in all mediated relationships.  Materiality, after all, is the means by which any media or mediation engages people via their sensory experiences.  And play emerges in the moment of mediation itself—the embodied, transformative, encounters that take place with and through media.  Considering the entangled dimensions of materiality and play together will therefore shed light on the complex reality of media, media practices, and media cultures.  

In practical terms, this SIG aims to support this scholarly community by striving:

  • To create protected and supportive spaces for conversations on material play that often lack strong institutional support (with the annual SCMS conference constituting the primary such space). 
  • To support the development and publishing of new scholarship on material play, especially collaborative, comparative, and interdisciplinary scholarship.  This may include publication in the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies
  • To support strong pedagogical practices related to the topic and practice of material play.   
  • To foster mentoring relationships between senior scholars, junior scholars, independent scholars, and graduate students.
  • To encourage media activism, critical game design, and critical play practices.
  • To interject a spirit of playfulness into our scholarly communities and practices.   

Furthermore, the Material Play SIG recognizes that this community is inevitably entangled with institutional and cultural formations that have complex and sometimes problematic histories.  Thus, it is committed to forging a diverse and inclusive community that does not depend on any single vision of what scholars or scholarship might look like.  Consequently, this SIG embraces scholarship as a material interplay with and within our diverse media, practices, and cultures.