"Are You Game?", issue n°9 of Angles
“Are you game?”
For an upcoming issue of Angles: New Perspectives on the Anglophone World, a peer-reviewed journal indexed by MLA, ERIH-Plus, EBSCO and others, we welcome proposals on “Are you game?”
This issue will be guest edited by Gilles Bertheau (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Call for papers
“Are you game?” can be a playful version of “I dare you!” While the latter formulation pre-supposes that one’s opponent will chicken out, the former is more inclusive and invites more joyful cooperation. The expression therefore combines the promise of a cooperative show of bravery, and the defiant invitation to a playful duel.
In earlier times, games, gaming, and gambling were far from being self-evident pastimes. In early modern England, games were accused by Puritans of diverting subjects from their religious duties, particularly on the Sabbath day. The matter was pressing enough for King James I to issue A Declaration of Sports(1617), later re-issued by his son Charles I in 1633, to allow dancing, May-Games, leaping, vaulting and Morris-dances, among others, after the end of divine service, while continuing to condemn games of chance like dice and cards. The fight against Sabbatarianism in 17th-century England underlines the parlous status of games in society. The word itself covers a host of activities, be it games of cards, chess (the philosophers’ game) and other parlour games, games of skill, physical games and gambling.
Games touch upon many aspects of individual as well as collective life. Used as educational tools for children, they are also meant to promote a community-minded attitude and to contribute to the development of a sense of civility among adults through the respect of rules. They imply an ethics of gaming, with a condemnation of cheating and the glorification of fair play, originating in the 19th-century British ideal of education among the upper classes. Even without taking into account sport, in the restricted meaning of the word (OED, I.4), the economy of games can be examined, especially that of gambling. If Las Vegas comes to mind, we can also think of the way British Parliament passed the National Lottery Act in 1994 and created the Heritage Lottery Fund to harness people’s irrepressible urge to gamble in order to effect social change.
Gambling has not always operated openly, and when monopolies and great sums of money are at stake, the criminal underworld is never far. Games such as Bingo and horse-racing can also be instrumental in analysing social interactions and social classes. The history of games also provides an insight into globalisation: the way certain games have been disseminated throughout the world, particularly in the English-speaking world, reveals a larger historical picture made of exchanges and conflicts between people and nations. The multiplicity of parlour games (whist, bridge, euchre, baccarat, backgammon, etc.) and the lexis invented to describe their rules and techniques offer an insight into the phenomenon of cultural exchanges, especially in the context of British imperialism.
Games and gaming have also been used figuratively or rhetorically. Poets, playwrights and novelists constantly turn to them, either for their own sake or for metaphoric and/or dramatic purposes. Shakespeare is said to be the first to use the phrase “fair play” in The Tempest, V, 1, 175, when Prospero “discovers Ferdinand and Miranda playing at chess”. Other examples include Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock(and its game of ombre), George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda(and its famous casino scene), Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth(and its heroine’s gambling habit), Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (and its playful riddles),and so on. In fiction, games are used — among other things — to convey a reflexion on the notions of fate, chance and Man’s free will, but also on money and its role in society and on the notions of honesty and dishonesty. Literature itself can be considered a game, especially when authors such as Laurence Sterne, James Joyce or e. e. cummings take pleasure in playing with their readers.
Similarly, games in film and television have played a key role, from ‘real-life’ video games in Tron (1982) to representations of gamblers and gambling in Martin Scorsese’s Casino(1995), from the TV series Boardwalk Empire(2010-15) set in Prohibition-era Atlantic City, to Stranger Things (2016–) and its use of Dungeons & Dragons,as well as more complex narrative strategies in which story-telling becomes a game of cat-and-mouse, as in Christopher Nolan’s Inception(2010).
Games in themselves are the subject of a vast specific literature, delineating their history, codifying their rules, praising their virtues and denouncing their dangers. The Renaissance was interested in card games, dice and chess; more recently, the focus has sometimes turned on the cognitive virtues and dangers of video games, for example, and on the gamification of human activities, including the use of ‘serious games’ in academic contexts for pedagogical purposes. When teaching English as a Foreign Language, for instance, games become useful didactic tools, but other more specialised areas have also experimented with gaming structures to further pedagogical experiments.
Finally, the language of games and its technicalities are also usefully exploited in other contexts, notably in philosophy, linguistics, or psychoanalysis. In philosophy, Ludwig Wittgenstein spoke of “language games” in Philosophical Investigations(1953); in linguistics, several authors have tried to use game theory as a framework to explore the way language works; in psychoanalysis, following Freud and Lacan, analysts have argued that puns and word games can serve as keys to the Unconscious.
“Are you game?” is thus an invitation to take into account the historical, literary, philosophical, linguistic, or theoretical issues posed by games, gaming and gamification in the Anglophone world, showing its various facets and uses, its challenges and successes over time and in different geographical areas. Are yougame?
For this issue of Angles, we particularly welcome articles on a specific aspect of the theme of games and gambling (literary, sociological, economic, linguistic, etc.) which take innovative and hybrid forms (use of video/audio documents, or any other form is encouraged).
500-word abstracts must be sent to the Guest editor at email@example.com September 20, 2019. Proposals will be selected on a rolling deadlineand no later than September 25, 2019.
Completed articles must be received by January 15, 2020.
The issue is scheduled for publication as the Spring 2020 issue.
Submissions must follow the in-house style: http://angles.saesfrance.org/index.php?id=80
For non-traditional submissions, please contact the Guest editor and the General editor for more information.
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Steven J. Brams,Game Theory and the Humanities: Bridging Two Worlds, Cambridge, MIT, 2011.
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Elyse Graham, The Republic of Games: Textual Culture between Old Books and New Media, Montreal, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2018.
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Jeff Howard, Quests: Design, Theory, and History in Games and Narratives, Wellesley, Peters, 2008.
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Kiri Miller, Playable Bodies: Dance Games and Intimate Media, Oxford, Oxford UP, 2017.
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Serina Patterson, ed., Games and Gaming in Medieval Literature, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
Deborah K. Phillips& Vicki A. Wilson, Gambling and Gender: Men and Women at Play, New York, Peter Lang, 2009.
Jessica Richard, The Romance of Gambling in the Eighteenth-Century British Novel, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
René Reinhold Schallegger, The Postmodern Joy of Role-Playing Games: Agency, Ritual and Meaning in the Medium, Jefferson, McFarland, 2018.
Zach Whalen& Laurie N. Taylor, eds., Playing the Past: History and Nostalgia in Video Games, Nashville, Vanderbilt UP, 2008.