Call For Papers: “New Formations of Game Genre,”

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Gerald Voorhees


Game Studies has adopted a notion of genre that overcomes the “tension between ‘ludology’ and ‘narratology’... [by] “conceptualizing video games as operating in the interplay between these two taxonomies of genre” (Apperley 2006). That is, the consensus of the field is that game genres are a combination of both narrative and other forms of representation (e.g. Adventure, Western, or Sci-Fi stories and/or motifs) and formal, ludic structures (e.g  cooperative or competitive, role-playing, shooting, platforming). 


While game studies as a field seemed to quickly embrace consensus around Apperley’s definition of genre, the Approaches to Digital Game Studies series introduction (Voorhees, Call, and Whitlock 2012) maintained a more fluid and promiscuous line: game genres could be distinguished by their theme or representational qualities, rules and mechanics, function, or some combination of the above. However, the ideological effects of the ludology vs. narratology debate are pervasive and game genres are still understood as constellations of formal and representational properties. Despite making allowances for iconography, structure, and use as distinct and not necessarily overlapping ways of distinguishing game genres, most conversations about genre and videogames are still wedded to the representational and mechanical dimensions.


Meanwhile, outside of genre studies, game studies has experienced a cultural turn in the last decade, centering the social dimensions of games and play. What resources for theorizing game genres emerge from this cultural turn? How might the critical theories of race and culture, intersectional feminism, queer theory, post-colonial and decolonial approaches, and mad/crip interventions of the past decade suggest new ways of thinking about game genres? And what new and emergent genres can be identified from this side of this cultural turn? Put differently, what would the study of game genres look like today if the ludology vs. narratology debate never occurred? Or if it had taken some other form more productive than it ultimately did? How might we understand game genres without the mandate to think about them through the two axes of “representation” and “ergodicity?” 


For this volume, tentatively titled “New Formations of Game Genre,”to be submitted for publication in the Approaches to Digital Game Studies book series published by Bloomsbury Academic, the editors aim to assemble scholarship that advances two lines of inquiry and thus seek proposal for essays that speak to one or more of the following two areas: 


  1. Minor forms and new genres that have been overlooked and understudied. Not every set of games warrants a monograph or even anthology like digital role-playing games, first-person shooters, or even Japanese role-playing games. But there are still lessons to be gained from giving space to looter-shooters, rhythm based or deck-building role-playing games, and/or text-based rouge-lites. We are seeking proposals for chapters that explore the various dimensions of these minor and emerging forms. 


  1. Genres that are distinguished by their social use. Lauren Berlant (2011) describes genre as a set of expectations that organizes a subject’s relationship to their historical circumstances. Closer to home, TreaAndrea Russworm, Bo Ruberg, and Chris Patterson, respectively, ask us to think about what constitutes a Black game, a queer game, and an Asian game, not as a product of the thematic or mechanical aspects but rather – beyond representation – as distinct structures of feeling, patterns of embodied experiences, and/or sets of material practices. We are seeking proposals for chapters that further explore how game genres can be distinguished by their social function, and how they work to mediate players’ relationships to the material world. 


Please send abstracts (350-500 words excluding references) to gamestudiesbooks [at] by September 30th, 2022. Full manuscripts of no more than 6500 words, including references, will be required by January 30, 2023. 

About the Editors:


Gerald Voorhees is an Associate Professor in the Department Communication Arts at the University of Waterloo and President of the Canadian Game Studies Association. He researches games and new media as sites for the construction and contestation of identity and culture, and he has edited books on masculinities in games, feminism in play, role-playing games, and first-person shooter games. Gerald is co-editor of Bloomsbury’s Approaches to Game Studies book series and was managing editor of the Gender in Play trilogy in Palgrave’s Games in Context book series.

Josh Call is a Professor of English and Director of the Writing Program at Grand View University. His current research focuses on critiques of games and media as political and ideological expressions of culture and power, and has edited collections on role-playing games, and first-person shooter games. Josh is the co-editor of Bloomsbury’s Approaches to Game Studies book series.

Betsy Brey is a PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo in the Department of English Language and Literature. She researches narrative and queerness in video games. Her work examines the social and cultural practices of the communities that play or enjoy these games, including questions of collaboration, digital labour, canonicity, and the cultural economies of fans and fandoms.

Matthew Wysocki is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at Flagler College and an Area Co-Chair of Game Studies at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association. Much of his research revolves around questions of control and player agency especially with regard to sex and romance. Matthew is the editor of CTRL-ALT-PLAY: Essays on Control in Video Games and co-editor of Rated M for Mature: Sex and Sexuality in Video Games.