Call for Papers

Deadline Extended! Abstracts Due April 20, 2020

Videogames are a powerful storytelling medium—but what are the stories we tell about videogames, with videogames, around videogames?

While there is an extensive body of scholarship on the way that videogames create worlds, construct characters, and explore themes, there has been almost no scholarship on the representation of videogames in literary texts.

But the study of the stories we tell about videogames, with videogames, and around videogames can shed new light on how conceptions of character, space, time, the body, and identity are being reshaped by new forms of play, playable media, algorithmic systems, surveillance culture, and social media. It can help us identify the innovative narrative techniques inspired by or remediated from videogames, videogame players, and videogame culture. And it can help us better understand the stories that surround videogames, whether the stories that strengthen stereotypes and intensify prejudice or expose and undermine them. 

We are looking for essays by scholars interested in establishing the foundations for the study of this fascinating, but underappreciated body of literature. These essays will comprise an anthology that we are calling Ready Reader One: The Stories  We Tell About, With, and Around Videogames. 

We are primarily interested in scholarly work on written literatures: short stories, novels, poetry, autobiography, creative non-fiction, rap lyrics, fan fiction, and graphic fiction.  Though we are less interested in essays on cinematic and televisual representations, we welcome exceptional proposals in this vein.  

Possible topics include, but are by no means restricted to the following:

  • Analyses of individual texts whose focus is videogames, videogame players, or videogame culture; for example, Neal Stephenson’s Reamde, Jennifer Haley’s The Nether, or Tom Bissell’s Extra Lives.
  • The representation of videogames, videogame players, or videogame culture in texts that are not “about” videogames per se, but feature them in some significant fashion, such as Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem, Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge, or the second season of Halt and Catch Fire.
  • Comparative analyses of texts that focus on a specific genre of videogame, such as MMORPGs, virtual worlds, fighting games, etc.
  • Comparative analyses of texts about videogames, videogame players, or videogame culture that utilize a common trope; for example, being trapped inside a videogame, videogames as a means to recruit players into secret conspiracies, the videogame player as the “chosen one,” etc.
  • Novelizations and serializations of popular videogames
  • Historical and cultural studies of individual genres: poetry, young adult literature, dystopias, teenage romance, rap lyrics, horror, fantasy, science fiction, life writing, fan fiction, etc.
  • The written culture of videogames: magazines, instruction manuals, forums, feelies, etc.
  • The role of literature in the participatory culture of videogames
  • The remediation of videogame procedures and mechanics into literary works; for example, respawning, avatars, scoring mechanics, leveling, failing, glitching, etc.

Please send an abstract of no less than 300 and no more than 700 words to Dr. Megan Amber Condis and Dr. Mike Sell at by April 20, 2020.