CfP reminder: Fantastic Games: Ludic imaginary spaces and their socio-cultural impact

Fifth annual conference of the Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung e.V.

[Association for Research in the Fantastic]

at the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt

September 11 – 14, 2014

 

In Homo Ludens (1938), his essential and seminal study that is frequently seen as the beginning of Game Studies as we understand them today, Johan Huizinga claimed an ontological connection between culture, as the quintessentially human endeavour, and play. Refuting the constantly raised accusations that play is a futile and escapist activity, Huizinga in contrast attributed it a significant function, both in its metaphorical (i.e. “it is important”), as well as its literal (i.e. “it signifies”) meaning (1971: 1). By its very nature, play opens up spaces and worlds beyond primary, everyday reality, new frameworks of meaning that are, however, not devoid of meaningful interactions with it. Culture, Huizinga argues, needs the free space of play to come into existence in the first place, to change and to adapt.

 

This intricate and complex web of interconnections between ludic otherworlds and the everyday life of individuals and groups is the core interest of the fifth annual conference of the Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung e.V. [Association for Research in the Fantastic]. We have deliberately chosen the very open and inclusive phrasing “ludic imaginary spaces” for the objects of the papers, so that the range of media fitting the description is as wide as it can be: hypertext and other ludic forms of text, board- and card games, pen&paper role-playing games, live-action role-playing games (LARPs), video and computer games, alternate reality games, and gamified activities of all kinds are possible, but this list must in no way be seen as exhaustive. No matter the medium chosen, what is essential is that there is this “free space of movement within a more rigid structure” that exists “because of and also despite the more rigid structures of a system ” that Eric Zimmerman has identified as essential to any definition of play (2004: 159). The organisers of this conference also would like to send a strong message that the conflicts over interpretive authority between Ludologists and Narratologists in playable media that have hindered Game Studies since the late 1990s are a thing of the past, so papers suggesting ways to bridge this gap will be especially welcome.

 

As the second focus of the conference, according to its title, is on the social and cultural exchanges between the secondary, or even tertiary realities created and the primary reality in which they are in turn created, played, and observed, possible approaches to these media reach from the implicit and explicit social and cultural politics of games and playable media on both the content and the structural level, to the regimes of representation and configuration present, the psycho-social phenomena surrounding the experiences created, to the political and social regulation of playful behaviour, and beyond. Game Studies are necessarily “a multidisciplinary field of study and learning with games and related phenomena as its subject matter” according to Frans Mäyrä (2010: 6), so theoretical perspectives from the whole range of academic disciplines and contributions from those working practically in the design and creation of ludic spaces would ideally come together to provide this fifth annual conference of the GFF with a kaleidoscopic overview of the full range of possibilities, problems, and the future potential of games and playable media in negotiating between the realms of the fantastic and everyday life.

 

As usual for GFF conferences, there will be an additional Open Track for all papers not directly related to the conference topic to safeguard a pluralism of perspectives in our research in the Fantastic. We thus invite papers of all aspects of the fantastic for this open track.

 

In the same vein, the GFF is happy to announce the availability of two student grants of €250 each as support of travel arrangements to the conference for the two most interesting student projects handed in. Apply for the student grant with abstract and bionote at the address below.

 

If you would like to contribute your voice to such a discussion of ludic imaginary spaces, we cordially invite you to send us a 350-word abstract to gff2014@aau.at detailing your projected 20-min paper in either German or English. Please do not forget to include your contact details, as well as a short bionote. The deadline for abstracts is December 31st, 2013.

 

Contact:

René Schallegger

Department for English and American Studies

Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt

Universitätsstraße 65 – 67

9020 Klagenfurt am Wörthersee / Austria

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