Call for Papers: Urban Play

The 15th annual University of Tampere Game Research Lab Spring Seminar focuses on Urban Play.

Urban spaces offer a rich environment for a diversity of play practices, from location-based games to parkour and from hopscotch to chess in parks. Historically, cities have offered rich affordances for games and play, but in recent years the spread of ubiquitous and pervasive technology has transformed and diversified public play. The extension of ‘smart’ devices and technologies into the urban environment – smartphones, sensors, and automated systems – open up new possibilities for networked play. At the same time, these platforms also control and constrain human movement and behaviour, sometimes unconsciously through opaque algorithms imposed by city authorities or technology vendors.

Play in public spaces became especially visible after Pokémon Go was launched, after which location-based games arose from margin to mainstream. Public play has also become something municipalities encourage, through games festivals and city-funded game projects. But there are also less visible, secret and norm-defying, forms of play constantly taking place. Spontaneous street activities, urban sports, and small-scale games produce micro-level but nonetheless important impacts on the everyday urban environment.

We are seeking submissions from scholars studying different aspects of urban play. In addition to game studies-oriented research, we particularly invite papers that focus on less visible groups and activities which challenge the way we think about public/urban play and which are not necessarily game-related. Prominent work is done in many fields ranging from player studies to design research and from digital humanities to architecture, urbanism, social sciences and beyond. The seminar encourages contributions relating to all types of urban games and play, be they digital, non-digital, or hybrid.

The possible list of topics includes but is not limited to:

  • Playful architecture and urban design
  • Smart city, ludic city
  • Location-based and augmented reality games
  • Histories of play in cities
  • Street sports
  • Playgrounds, amusement parks, stadiums, and other playful spaces
  • Locative educational, tourism, and heritage applications
  • Pervasive larp
  • Representation and discourses around urban play
  • Norm-defying urban play
  • Peri-urban and rural play
  • Representations of the urban in games
  • Playful algorithms of power in cities
  • Digital, hybrid, and non-digital urban games

Urban Play is the 15th annual spring seminar organized by Tampere University Game Research Lab. The seminar emphasises work-in-progress submissions, and we strongly encourage submitting late breaking results, working papers, as well as submissions from graduate and PhD students. The purpose of the seminar is to have peer-to-peer discussions and thereby provide support in refining and improving research work in this area. The seminar is organized in collaboration with the Center of Excellence in Game Culture Studies.

The papers to be presented will be chosen based on extended abstract review. Full papers are distributed prior the event to all participants, in order to facilitate discussion. The seminar will be chaired by Professor Frans Mäyrä, and there will be two invited expert commentators, Dr Dale Leorke (University of Tampere) and another commentator to be announced later. The seminar will be held in Vapriikki, the museum center that hosts The Finnish Museum of Games.

The seminar is looking into partnering with a journal so that the best papers would be invited to be further developed for publication in a special journal issue. In the past we have collaborated with Games and CultureSimulation & GamingInternational Journal of Role-Playing and ToDiGRA journals.

Submission guidelines

The papers will be selected for presentation based on extended abstracts of 500-1000 words (plus references). Abstracts should be delivered in PDF format. Please use 12 pt Times New Roman, double-spaced, for your text. Full paper guidelines will be provided with the notification of acceptance.

Our aim is that all participants can familiarise themselves with the papers in advance. Therefore, the maximum length for a full paper is 5000 words (plus references). The seminar presentations should encourage discussion, instead of repeating the information presented in the papers. Every paper will be presented for 10 minutes and discussed for 20 minutes.

Submissions should be sent to: gamestudiesseminar@gmail.com.

Important dates:

  • Abstract deadline: January 18, 2019
  • Notification of acceptance: February 4, 2019
  • Full Paper deadline: March 25, 2019
  • Seminar dates: April 15-16, 2019

See more on https://urbanplayseminar.wordpress.com/.

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