DiGRA 2007, "Situated Play": Call for Papers

The Third Digital Games Research Association International Conference (DiGRA 2007)
“Situated Play”: Second Circular and Call for Papers
September 24 – 28, 2007
Tokyo, Japan

1. Date and Venue
The conference is planned to take place from September 24th to 28th. This will be immediately after the Tokyo Game Show 2007, which is currently scheduled from September 21st to 23rd (There is still a small chance that these dates might change). The conference venue is expected to be the University of Tokyo’s Hongo campus in Tokyo, Japan. As a thriving center of digital culture and games, Tokyo is an extremely relevant location for the conference especially given the proposed theme of “situated play.”

2. Conference Theme: Situated Play
Games are everywhere. On subways, we see people playing Tetris with cell-phones. On the street and in restaurants, kids play with GameBoys and other portable devices. At home, we gather around the console or collaborate with a family member to take out a monster in a multiplayer game. In our offices, we spend stolen moments playing PC games. Our elderly are whiling away free hours playing online games. Games are everywhere, and becoming more deeply embedded in the fabric of our everyday lives. As digital games penetrate our life and society, they are increasingly difficult to ignore. Games have created huge industries in some countries, while still others note this success and clamor to build industries of their own. The idea of games as mere entertainment is beginning to fade: the potential of games is now being recognized as they are becoming progressively more employed for education, job training, physical exercise, rehabilitation, psychotherapy and more. Children and adults spend a substantial portion of their life playing games – in many cases, spending more time with games than television or other media. Games are now an integral part of our societies and lives. Games, therefore, deserve serious attention.Yet, we have a problem. A digital game is an extremely complex aesthetic, social and technological phenomenon. Games are not isolated entities that one can effectively study in vitro. Games are situated in culture and society. To truly understand the phenomenon of digital games, it is not enough to merely study the games themselves or short-term impacts as described by laboratory experiments —these are only part of the story. Their context begins when the games are marketed and circulated, and they reach the hands of players. Context continues to build as potential players satisfy certain prerequisites: resources to obtain a console or a PC, time and motivations to play games, and skills to enjoy sometimes very complex digital games. We need to understand not just narratological and ludological aspects of the games, but also the industrial and economic contexts that produce them, and the socio-cultural backgrounds that produce game players and generate gameplay. In short, to understand games, we need to investigate at them from multitude of different perspectives.

To make the case even more complex, while games are ubiquitous, they are geographically diverse, and game play is local. Games are produced and consumed differently in Japan and in North America. Online games have different meanings and functions in Korea and in Europe. When we look at the situatedness of games, we see greater cultural diversity in games, even beyond the superficiality of geo-political boundaries into myriad sub-cultures that might find unifying interests across traditional cultural lines. Gameplay is messy. Yet we must strive to understand it, even if that means pulling together many small pieces of the overall puzzle together in the hope that the whole might reveal itself over time.

We, therefore, need to unite. We need to mobilize all those who can provide any insights about digital games, from academia to industry, across a wide range of disciplines and expertise. In particular, we need to gather voices from around the world to better reflect the wide range of experiences and perspectives that games solicit. Tokyo is a very appropriate city for game researchers from around the world to meet, and an excellent place for game studies scholars to talk with practitioners from game industry. We propose that this conference be an opportunity to act as a bridge between West and East, Industry and Academia, the result being a greater holistic understanding of games, their impacts, and potential in our world.

3. Call for Full Papers
Papers and panel proposals are invited for the third Digital Games Research Association International Conference (DiGRA 2007) in Tokyo. The theme of this conference is “Situated Play.” Its goal is to shed light on various kinds of situatedness of games. In particular, the conference aims to create a bridge between professionally and geographically diverse scholars and practitioners. We therefore welcome panel proposals and papers that tackle various facets regarding the situatedness of digital games and attempt to combine a range of approaches in innovative ways. The deadline for papers and panel proposals is midnight (Apia time), February 14, 2007. The selection will be based on full papers and panel proposals. The time allotted to one paper is 30 minutes, and the submitted papers should be between 2500 to 6000 words and an abstract must be attached. A panel session will have two hours, and a panel proposal should be up to 800 words in addition to all the full papers in the panel. Authors and organizers of panels will be requested to specify a relevant thematic focus (see below) and their relevant disciplinary backgrounds. Submission will be accepted by an online review system. Practical details of submission will be announced on the conference website in January.

Based on the abstracts and the specified disciplinary backgrounds, the Review Committee Chair Douglas Thomas will assign papers and panel proposals to a Review Committee member, who will assign three or more reviewers to the paper. Based on the double-blind evaluation of the reviewers and taking the relevance of the papers to the conference theme into consideration, the Program Committee will select approximately 50 papers.

In addition to full papers, there will be lightening sessions, student round tables, and poster sessions. A call for papers for these kinds of sessions will be announced later. The deadline of submissions for these sessions is planned to be in May.
Further details of the conference will be announced on the conference website (http://www.gamesconference.org) as the preparation proceeds. For inquiries, contact Kenji Ito at kenjiito67 [at] gmail.com.

4. Thematic Foci
Thematic foci are meant to be used to help organize sessions and tracks. They are mainly for the convenience of conference attendees, and is certainly not meant to be overly prescriptive.

  • Player-Focus: Sociology and economy of MMORPGs, sociological approaches to games, gender and gaming, player engagement, player co-production, cross-cultural issues, etc. Relevant disciplines include: sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, gender studies, history, economics, and psychology.
  • Content Focus: Theory and practice of game design, game storytelling, game graphics, etc. Relevant disciplines include: literature, film studies, art studies, and game design theory.
  • Learning/Education Focus: Teaching and curriculum development in game programs, serious games, games at school, learning and games. Relevant disciplines include: education and psychology.
  • Technology focus: Game programming, AI, computer graphics, computer hardware. Relevant discipline include: Computer science and electronic engineering.
  • Business Focus: Economics-based studies of game industry, business models, sociology of game production, copyright and legal issues, national policy of game production and training, independent/amateur designers, etc. Relevant disciplines include: business and management, economics, sociology, history, law, and political sciences.
  • Interdisciplinary: Any studies to cross these themes or innovative attempts that do not fit in any other theme areas.

5. The Review Committee Chair, International Advisory Board, and the Local Organizing Committee
Douglas Thomas (University of Southern California) has kindly agreed to be the chair of the Review Committee.
The International Advisory Board provides advice to the Local Organizing Committee and oversees the Review Committee. The current members of the International Advisory Board are:

Espen Aarseth, IT-University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen
Matteo Bittanti, IULM University, Milan
Staffan Björk, Göteborg University and The Interactive Institute, GAME Studio, Göteborg
Suzanne de Castell, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver
Tak-Wai Chan, National Central University, Jhongli
Adrian David Cheok, National University of Singapore, Singapore,
Marinka Copier, University of Utrecht, Utrecht
Patrick Crogan, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide
Drew Davidson, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh
Gonzalo Frasca, IT University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen
Jesper Juul, IT University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen
Tanya Krzywinska, Brunel University, London
Frans Mäyrä, University of Tampere, Tampere
Janet H. Murray, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta
David Surman, Newport School of Art, Media and Design, Newport
Annika Waern, Swedish Institute of Computer Science, Kista
Sang Min (Leo) Whang, Yonsei University, Seoul
Eric Zimmerman, Gamelab, New York

The members of the Local Organizing Committee are:
Akira Baba, The University of Tokyo (Chair)
Akinori Nakamura, Ritsumeikan University
Kiyoshi Shin, IGDA Japan
Kenji Ito, The University of Tokyo

The Local Organizing Committee is a part of DiGRA Japan, which was recently established as a Japan Chapter of DiGRA. DiGRA Japan’s website is:http://www.digrajapan.org. For inquiries, please contact Kenji Ito at kenjiito67 [at] gmail.com.

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