Please forward this call for papers to the faculty and graduate students in
your department. Thanks!
*Media Fields Journal: Critical Explorations in Media and Space*
*Issue 8: Playgrounds*
*Submission Deadline: Dec. 1, 2013*
This issue of *Media Fields* investigates the connections between media,
space, power, and various approaches to “play” across culture and society.
In this issue we seek conversations that embrace play in all its polysemy.
We invite papers that investigate how mediated play spaces can become
spaces to negotiate labor, power, resistance, agency, or subjectivity. To
that end, what is a mediated play space? What is the history of mediated
play spaces? How are non-play spaces subverted to become play spaces, and
what are the political consequences of this subversion? Moreover, what is
the political potential of play?
In video game studies, play is often discussed as a free activity that
nonetheless is governed by structures, rules, and protocol; and driven by
clear goals or win states. This understanding is largely built upon the
theoretical work of Johan Huizinga and Roger Caillois. Although play can
often be seen as non-political, frivolous, and anathema to the serious
concerns of society and culture, play in fact constitutes - and itself
mediates - our everyday lives, (re)shaping our material world and producing
new fields of meaning and action. In Roland Barthes’s discussion of the
term, play designates a capacity for variation and change: *to have play*.
Alternatively, play enables, or is activated by, expressions of
individuality and agency: *to play*. In the first sense play is expressed
as capacity; in the second sense play is agential, a co-active engagement
of player, interface, and environment. However, software studies has
cautioned that spaces of play, in all of their manifestations, are also
bounded spaces, geographically, algorithmically, and ideologically. Indeed,
Alexander Galloway has explored both the ideological power of interfaces
and code as well as the agentive potential to resist or subvert these
forces through various forms of play. We purposefully invite a range of
submissions that continue to map these relationships between bounded
structure and playful expression, especially within, but by no means
limited to, virtual worlds and digital games.
We are inspired by the work of those media scholars who have explored some
of these issues already. Henry Jenkins’ influential article, “‘Complete
Freedom of Movement’: Video Games as Gendered Play Spaces,” provides an
early and enduring example of an approach to the problem of media, space,
and play through a gendered perspective. Likewise, Bernadette Flynn’s
essay, “Geography of the Digital Hearth,” explores the migrating play space
of the video game experience from the arcade, to the den, to its central
place in the living room, offering not only a genealogy of video game play
space but also a significant contribution to the continuing study of
changing living room dynamics explored by Lynn Spigel, Cecila Tichi, and
more recently Michael Z. Newman and Elana Levine. Finally, although digital
games lend themselves to the study of mediated play spaces, we are also
seek scholarship interested in the ways other media, including film,
television, radio, and digital culture, construct and are constructed as
fields of play.
Thus, our approach is multivalent. We invite a wide range of submissions
that consider this complexity, possibly addressing the following topics:
■ Military Play Space: How is play deployed to reproduce or
aestheticize positions of power and Empire? How can play subvert and
reconstruct these spaces? These questions may extend the work of Nick
Dyer-Witheford and Greig de Peuter into digital and cultural geography.
■ Sport, Space, and Experiences: How can we understand the
experience of viewing sporting events in relation to mediated play spaces,
either in the living room, at the sports bar, or even at the live event
itself? How does play - L.A.R.P., Parkour, or skateboarding, for example -
reclaim space and reimagine space?
■ The Domestic Space and Video Games: Following work by
Bernadette Flynn and Ben Aslinger, how do digital games and other
entertainment technologies augment the spatial, social, and family dynamics
of the contemporary domestic space? How does play reshape the domestic
■ Gender, Sexuality, Race, Class, Identity, and Online
Spaces: How do people play with identity and power in virtual spaces? How
can virtual space be used tactically to oppose oppressive powers?
■ Queer/Feminist Gaming: representations of gendered and
sexualized spaces in mainstream video games, gendered/queer geographies of
video game production, gendered/queer spaces of gaming culture?
■ Spaces of Surveillance: How can play be mobilized as a form
of resistance to spaces of surveillance? Work here might follow in the vein
of projects from the Critical Art Ensemble.
■ Play and Labor; Play and Anonymity; Play and Resistance;
We are looking for essays of 1500-2500 words, digital art projects, and
audio or video interviews exploring the relationship between media, space,
power, and play. We encourage approaches to this topic from scholars in
cinema and media studies, anthropology, architecture, art and art history,
communication, ecology, geography, literature, musicology, sociology, and
other relevant fields.
Email submissions to Alex Champlin and John Vanderhoef at
[log in to unmask]
PhD Student, Department of Film and Media Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara
GSR, Media Industries Project
Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
University of Alabama: http://www.tcf.ua.edu