Utopia on the Tabletop

deadline for submissions: 
February 1, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Jo Lindsay Walton
contact email: 

Utopia on the Tabletop: CfS

“Quite the contrary, Skepticus. I believe that Utopia is intelligible, and I believe that game playing is what makes Utopia intelligible.”

— Bernard Suits, The Grasshopper: Games, Play, and Utopia

We invite abstracts of 200-500 words on the theme of utopia and tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs). Please also include either a 50-300 word bio, or a CV, or a link to your website. Send abstracts to j.c.walton@sussex.ac.uk by 1 February 2021 with “Submission” in the subject line. Chapters of 5,000-8,000 words will be due 1 September 2021.

All submissions should in some way address the theme of utopia in relation to TTRPGs. Additional themes might include dystopia, heterotopia, decoloniality, critical humanism and posthumanism, performance and performativity, post-work and anti-work, post-scarcity, degrowth and post-growth, anti-carceral feminism, solarpunk, techno-utopianism, critical design, critical play, gamebooks and solo roleplaying, roleplaying as writing, serious and applied games, play therapy, political activism and organizing, participatory democracy, radical cartography, de-anthropic play, de-anthropic utopianism, gamification, Quantified Self, AI, and digital technologies. We welcome all approaches, e.g. close analysis of a single TTRPG; comparative analysis of several TTRPGs; proposals engaging with design philosophies or other conversations that have played out over blogs, Discord, and other social media; proposals for introductory overviews of a relevant phenomenon; proposals focused on a particular designer, press, mechanic, norm, subculture, movement, hashtag, etc. We especially welcome submissions that will shine a light on work by BIPOC game designers, writers, and creators.

Submissions will be considered for an innovative open-access edited collection, Utopia on the Tabletop, which will include original mini-TTRPGs on utopian themes alongside scholarship. If you are a game designer and would like to be kept up-to-date about the game design aspect of the collection, or if you have other informal queries, contact j.c.walton@sussex.ac.uk.

Suggestions of games and genres to explore:

  • The Quiet Year and The Deep Forest
  • Dream Askew and Dream Aslant
  • Flotsam: Adrift Among the Stars
  • Wanderhome
  • Other Belonging Outside Belonging games
  • Microscope
  • Shock: Social Science Fiction and Human Contact
  • Other worldbuilding-focused games
  • MoonPunk
  • The Glass Dream Game
  • Consensus | Together
  • Bluebeard’s Bride
  • Dogs in the Vineyard
  • Troika!
  • Freemarket
  • Mars Colony
  • Urban Shadows
  • Orun
  • Archipelago
  • The Treasure At The End Of This Dungeon Is An Escape From This Dungeon And We Will Never Escape From This Dungeon
  • The Riot Starts
  • Songs for the Dusk
  • Dialect
  • Legacy: Life Among the Ruins
  • Affection Game
  • Told by Starlight
  • Rosette Diceless
  • Anti-utopian RPGs such as Paranoia and Herland
  • Serious games, applied games, Games for Change
  • Lyric RPGs
  • War gaming, game-like futures tools
  • ARGs and LARPing
  • Fictional TTRPGs
  • Fragments of games, works-in-progress, etc. (for example, Time of Tribes, PbtA-ifying Debt: The First 5,000 Years).

Relevant theorists and secondary texts may include:

  • Bernard Suits, The Grasshopper: Games, Life, and Utopia
  • Ruth Levitas, Utopia as Method
  • adrienne maree brown, Pleasure Activism
  • Mary Flanagan, Critical Play
  • Alex Zamalin, Black Utopia: The History of an Idea from Black Nationalism to Afrofuturism
  • Bonnie Ruberg and Adrienne Shaw (eds.), Queer Game Studies
  • Felwine Sarr, Afrotopia
  • Ashis Nandy, Traditions, Tyranny, and Utopias: Essays in the Politics of Awareness
  • Ralph Pordzik, The Quest for Postcolonial Utopia
  • Kathi Weeks, The Problem with Work
  • José Esteban Munoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity
  • C. Thi Nguyen, Games: Agency as Art
  • Dunne & Raby, Critical Design
  • Rosi Braidotti, Post-Humanism
  • Jane McGonigol, Reality is Broken
  • David Graeber, Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology and Utopia of Rules
  • Nicholas J. Mizer, Tabletop Role-Playing Games and the Experience of Imagined Worlds
  • Ashley M. L. Brown, Sexuality in Role-Playing Games
  • Edward K. Chan, The Racial Horizon of Utopia: Unthinking the future of race in late twentieth-century American utopian novels
  • Sebastian Deterding, Jose Zagal, Roleplaying Game Studies: Transmedia Foundations
  • Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer, Theory for the World to Come
  • Anton Nijholt (ed.), Playable Cities
  • Caroline Bassett, Sarah Kember, Kate O’Riordan, Furious: Technological Feminism and Digital Futures
  • Bonnie Ruberg, Video Games Have Always Been Queer
  • Paul Youngquist, A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism
  • Kai Masser, Linda Mory, The Gamification of Citizens' Participation in Policymaking
  • Jose Sanchez, Architecture for the Commons: Participatory Systems in the Age of Platforms
  • Saklofske, Arbuckle, and Bath, Feminist War Games?: Mechanisms of War, Feminist Values, and Interventional Games
  • Sarah Lynn Bowman, The Functions of Role-Playing Games
  • Jennifer Grouling Cover, The Creation of Narrative in Tabletop Roleplaying Games
  • Adriana de Souza e Silva, Ragan Glover-Rijkse, Hybrid Play: Crossing Boundaries in Game Design, Players Identities and Play Spaces
  • S. D. Chrostowska and James D. Ingram (eds.), Political Uses of Utopia: New Marxist, Anarchist, and Radical Democratic Approaches
  • Torill Elvira Mortensen, Kristine Jørgensen, The Paradox of Transgression in Games
  • Elinor Ostrom, Erik Olin Wright, Ernst Bloch, Darko Suvin, Raymond Williams, Tom Moylan, Krishnan Kumar, Lucy Sargisson, Fredric Jameson, Lyman Tower Sargeant, Ruth Levitas, Carl Freedman, Seo-Young Chu, Ytasha L. Womack, Lisa Yaszek, Sherryl Vint, N. Katherine Hayles, Donna Haraway, Marleen Barr, Ursula K. Le Guin, Joanna Russ, Samuel R. Delany, Adam Roberts
  • The Decolonising Utopia Resource List: https://utopia.ac/resources/decolonisation/