Intersectional Approaches to Game Studies: A Critical Analysis of Process, Product, and Pedagogy

deadline for submissions: 
November 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Julia E. Kiernan
contact email: 

This collection serves to extend current conversations of games studies beyond the existing, status quo of postmodern influenced discourses through offering an integrated, multiperspectival approach that emphasizes the production, consumption, and formal analysis of interactive digital games. Included chapters will respond to the acknowledgement and integration of online and virtual learning spaces, particularly those that value social interactions and experiences within the various fields of game studies (e.g. game design, game art, and game development, educational technologies, media studies, etc.) and will provide focused examinations of the ways research in game studies can complicate approaches to teaching and learning across various intersectional manifestations of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Chapters will engage with theories of intersectionality (Collins & Bilge, 2020; Weldon, 2008; Cho, Crenshaw, & McCall, 2013; Crenshaw, 1989), race and game studies (Gray & Leonard, 2018; Gray, 2020) feminist media studies (Fenton, 2000; Watkins & Emerson, 2000; Payne, 2014; Keller & Ryan, 2018), queer game studies (Anthropy, 2013; Shaw, 2014; Ruberg, 2019; Philips, 2020), queer media studies (Griffin, 2018; Ahn, Himberg, & Young, 2014; Malkowski, 2018), critical play (Flanagan 2009; Gee, 2003), and digimodernism (Kirby, 2009) within a broader interrogation and understanding of the current post-postmodernist media context (Nealon, 2012; Eagleton, 2003). In these ways, this project builds upon the historical analysis and formations of power that influence the creation of interactive media. 

 

Through providing nuanced intersectional analysis, included chapters will refresh, reshape, and redirect attention to the ways that gender and sexual politics operate within the historical and contemporary interactive media spaces of game studies, focusing on the development, consumption, and analysis of content within the interactive digital game mediascape. Consequently, this collection will provide intersectional approaches that can be taken up by critical creators, students, scholars, and academic critics who engage with the interactive technologies we call digital games. In examining the many intersectional positionalities assigned to gender and sexuality within the diverse contexts that characterize game studies, we move beyond mainstream critical examinations of hegemonic industry influences on media and situate digital game mediascapes as intersectional sites of consumption, utilization, and modification. 

 

The collection will be divided into three sections: Process, Product, and Pedagogy. (Submitted proposals should identify what section their research aligns with.)

 

Process chapters will examine how interactive technologies are designed and created as well as attend to the ways embodied and lived experiences shape the development process. In current literature, the process of game development is rarely interrogated; systems thinking and design practices (Sellers, 2018; Meadows, 2008; Stroh, 2015) often serve as the only guides, which usually exclude the individual experiences and the impact of the makers. Chapters may explore the blurred lines that occur within the process of creating digital games and how these processes reflect existing media creation practices (O’Donnell, 2014) as well as critical understandings of gender and sexual politics (Flannagan, 2009; 2013). 

 

Product chapters will move beyond examinations of interactive digital games that frame audiences as passive media consumers, instead focusing on the intersectional nature of games games as ergodic literature (Aarseth, 1997), designed experience (Squire, 2006), theater (Laurel, 2014), an/or interactive narrative (Murray, 2017). In critiquing digital interactive games within the broader realm of visual arts and media studies, chapters will align games with other genres of media (e.g. film, literature, music, television, etc.) and consider the implications of this product expansion across feminist and queer media studies. In doing so, chapters will offer criticisms of game products derived from postmodern frameworks and note the ways that interactive digital games mark a departure from the era of passive art and media consumption. 

 

Pedagogy chapters will consider the ways that digital games are used as pedagogical tools in both formal and informal spaces to enhance learner engagement as well as the ways that games can be used to support thinking strategies (Hodent, 2014; Black et al 2014; Sicart, 2017; Isbister; 2017; Nguyen, 2020; Rogers, 2016). Chapters will interrogate intersectional identity contextualizations and how games can create learning opportunities as well as the creation of safe spaces (Flanagan, 2009; 2013) where students can engage with topics of gender, sexuality, representation, and identity. Chapters will consider how games can be pedagogical assets to communicate, imply, and encourage intersectional understandings and interpretations of difference.

 

In particular, we are asking for proposed chapters that consider how game studies can situate following questions/issues in regard to process, product, and/or pedagogy:

 

  • Feminist new media literacy

  • Queering new media literacy

  • Feminist and queer performances

  • Feminist and queer pedagogies

  • Audience interpretations and their interpretation of gender and sexuality

  • Game modifications and interpretations/implementations of gender and sexuality

  • Indie games that challenge existing digital gender/sexuality game norms 

  • Machinima and Game Engine-based films that challenge gender and sexuality

  • Role of game engines and independent development on queer and feminist media

  • Enthusiasts as developers of Queer Media

  • Intersectional approaches to digital representations of gender and sexuality 

  • Gender and sexuality and critical race theory

  • Recycling and stereotyping of gender and sexuality

  • Narratives of gender and sexuality narratives that emphasize historical (in)accuracies

  • Challenging narratives which have been avoided, ignored, or dismissed 

  • Transmedia representations of gender and sexuality

  • Casting choices for narratives/characters 

  • Portrayals of intersectionality in new media 

  • Cultural and subcultural constructs within online and offline game and gameplay spaces

  • The visibility/invisibility of gender and sexuality

  • Medical and social models of gender and sexuality

  • Fandom and fan reactions to portrayals of gender and sexuality

  • Ethics of representation in Interactive Media

  • Authentication of representation in Interactive Media

Deadline for Chapter Proposals: A 250-word abstract and a 50-word bio are due November 15, 2022. Send proposals as email attachments (preferably MS Word) with the subject line Intersectional Approaches to Game Studies to Ahu Yolaç (ayolac@ltu.edu), Stephen Mallory (smallory@ltu.edu), and Julia Kiernan (jkiernan@ltu.edu). Inquiries are encouraged and welcome. We welcome and encourage submissions from early-career faculty. Authors whose abstracts are accepted for inclusion will be notified in mid-January 2023.

 

Expected Timeline

  • Chapter abstracts submitted November 15, 2022.

  • Authors invited to submit full-length articles in mid-January, 2023.

  • Complete chapters submitted June 15, 2023.

  • Revision feedback conveyed August 15, 2023.

  • Revisions due November 15, 2023.

  • Second round of revision feedback conveyed December 2023

  • Revised articles due January 31, 2024.

  • Manuscript submission February 2024.

  • Expected publication date December 2024.