NeMLA 2023 Panel: Video Games as Literature: FromSoftware

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)

NeMLA 2023: Niagara Falls, NY. March 23-26, 2023. 

Since the unexpected success of their 2011 title Dark Souls, Japanese studio FromSoftware has become known for creating video games that combine, on the one hand, punishing difficulty with, on the other hand, a ludonarrative design philosophy that subverts the forms of straightforward narrative exposition typical of mainstream, “triple-A” games. FromSoftware games invite players to comb through minor digital artifacts to archaeologically piece together their own understanding of the games’ worlds, characters, and themes. This core gameplay mechanic, for many players, pushes beyond the game into other virtual spaces. Across scrupulously detailed and often speculative wikis, video essays, and Let’s Plays, players have collaboratively constructed meaning from the games’ ergodic text. This panel asks how a niche game series, amidst the standardized narratorial and ludic forms certified by the video games culture industry, became a multimillion dollar bestseller and critical success. What makes these games so compelling as to lead players to create communities beyond the game itself? What sort of interpretive practices to the games cultivate in their players, and which are by design part of their narrative form? What can the study of FromSoftware games contribute to the study of interpretive practice for literary studies, media studies, cultural studies, and related disciplines?

This panel is interested in ludonarrative genealogies, analysis of non-traditional storytelling, affect studies, analysis of para- and meta-texts, materialist histories, fandom studies, and engagement between videogames and traditional intellectual disciplines.


Abstracts of 250-300 words should be submitted directly on the NeMLA website by September 30, 2022: (direct link to this panel).

Submission Requirements

The submission deadline is September 30, 2022. All abstracts must be submitted through the NeMLA CFP web site at Search for ID #20086, "Video Games as Literature: FromSoftware"

General guidelines for abstracts can be found at View the conference web site at


Contact Information

Connor Spencer
Graduate Student
Columbia University 

Contact email:  

 Brent MathenyGraduate StudentCUNY Graduate Center Contact email: