Workshops

Disobedience of fantasy and fantasy of disobedience: non-English magical worlds in videogames.

Organizer: Leonid Moyzhes

In his famous essay “Piróg, or, There is No Gold in Grey Mountains” Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski stated that fantasy, as a genre, was rooted in Anglo-Saxon literature and folklore so deeply, that it was impossible to create a fantasy setting – and consequently, a work of fiction of any type – based on any other sources. According to Sapkowski, whether one calls her monsters and heroes by Slavic, Spanish, Chinese or Arabic names, as long as one writes fantasy, one will always end up with another recompilation of Arthurian legends and chivalric romance.

Ironically, many years after the essay was published, “The Witcher” – videogame franchise based on Sapkowski’s books (which had been initially conceived as a parody of classical “sword and sorcery” novels) – gave a new life to the discussion on the possibility of non-English, specifically, Slavic, fantasy. It was followed promptly by Slavic fantasy games like “Thea” series, “Yaga” or “Pagan Online”.  Shortly after, many other projects that can be described as “non-Anglo-Saxon fantasy” appeared, like “Unrest”, “Kenshi” or “Six Ages”. The similar can be observed in the tabletop RPG industry, where relatively small costs of production allowed for the emergence of many fantasy games inspired by various cultures, like “Red Lands” or “Weapons of the Gods”.

While there is nothing new in the fact that a certain market within pop-cultural industry attempts, often unsuccessfully, to revitalize itself by borrowing from not yet overexploited sources and incorporate ideas from “exotic” cultures and mythologies in its products, this current trend is a good starting point to speak about the possibility of the non-English fantasy. Could those games become a form of what Walter Mignolo called “decolonial Option”? Or, on the contrary, they serve as a way to further colonize and universalize the pop-cultural landscape of the world?

We welcome all submissions related to the question of the possibility of the non-English fantasy in videogames, board games, classic wargames, LARP and tabletop RPGs.

Suggested topics:

  • History and case studies of tabletop, roleplaying and videogames in the genre of non-English fantasy
  • Colonial identity in fantasy videogames
  • Clarification of terms: non-English or non-American.
  • Folklore and mythologies as inspiration for game mechanics
  • non-English fantasy and Orientalism
  • Cultural appropriation
  • Representation of non-Abrahamic religions in videogames
  • Videogames as tools of de-colonization
  • Language use in fantasy videogames
  • Representation of ethnicity in videogames

Guidelines for authors

Your submission should contain an abstract (700 words maximum) accompanied with a list of up to 10 keywords and a list of references (bibliography and ludography), that won’t count against word limit. The deadline for abstracts is July 31st. Presenters accepted for the main CEEGS 2019 program are also eligible to apply. Acceptance notifications will be sent on August 10th.

Submission address: sfantasyworkshop@gmail.com

Gaming Sights, Sighting Games: Ludic Visualities In and Out of Games

Organizer: Paweł Frelik (University of Warsaw)

Arguably, visuality is one of the least critically examined dimensions of contemporary video games. There are extensive bodies of critical texts on narrative, code, and social contexts. The game audio has received a fair deal of attention. Some of the reticence concerning game visuals can be explained by many researchers’ desire to distance themselves from the aspects of the medium that were historically perceived as connected to other media: film, television, and visual arts. A larger trend in the humanities that treats image as suspect and decorative can also be held accountable for this silence.

We are interested in in-game visual assets and their contexts, including

  • aesthetic styles and stylizations in games
  • color and lighting in games
  • visual retro and nostalgia
  • national and regional visual styles
  • perspective and visual construction of space
  • cutscenes as bridges to film and television
  • methodological intersections with art history, visual studies, and media studies 

At the same time, in keeping with the topic of the 2019 Central and Eastern European Game Studies conference, “Beyond Digital,” we particularly encourage and invite presentations on the game visualities beyond digital. The list of possible subjects for inquiry includes but is not limited to:

  • designwork and concept art
  • game-related commercial and advertising visuals 
  • game-inspired fan art
  • gameworld maps outside games
  • art and artworks inside video games
  • boardgame, cardgame, and other analog game visualities 
  • visualities of pen-and-paper RPGs
  • visual and artistic texts and practices influenced by video games 
  • in-game photography

Abstracts should be no longer than 500 words (excluding bibliography) and be sent directly to the organizer (p.frelik@uw.edu.pl). The workshop itself will focus on both presentation and discussion, so we encourage submitting work in progress.

The deadline for abstracts is July 31st. Presenters accepted for the main CEEGS 2019 program are also eligible to apply. Acceptance notifications will be sent on August 10th.

Games and Money: Before and After the Digital

Organizer: Alesja Serada

We live in the time of tokenomics (Power & Au, 2018) when real world economies become less ‘real’ and more ‘ludic’. This change has been reflected in the boom of cryptocurrencies, which economies can be interpreted as ‘Bitcoin games’ (Hutten & Thiemann, 2017). But there have always been a variety of socially marked ‘monies’ (Zelizer, 1994), and in-game currencies can be just as valuable and meaningful as any other means of exchange. Besides, such monies represent fascinating material cultures of gaming – from Monopoly bills to casino chips.

At our workshop, we invite game researchers to talk about monies in games, primarily (but not exclusively) covering the following topics:

1) Cryptocurrency-based games: the future of the game industry?

2) Material culture of in-game monies: chips, tokens, imitations;

3) Playing with real money: from coin tossing to ‘secret messages’ on bills;

4) Making money in games: new and emerging practices;

5) Real world economies as money games.

Submissions should be sent to gamesandscholars@gmail.com. We expect circa 200 word proposals for 20 minute presentations, accompanied by reference lists, sent as attached single text files. Please introduce yourself in the body of your email. The main acceptance factor will be relevance of the submission to the core idea of the workshop – the analogy that we will explore: materiality of money in games (before the digital) and the ‘new materiality’ of cryptocurrencies in crypto games (after the digital).

The deadline for abstracts is July 31st. Presenters accepted for the main CEEGS 2019 program are also eligible to apply. Acceptance notifications will be sent on August 10th.

Submission reopened. The new deadline for abstracts is August 31st. Presenters accepted for the main CEEGS 2019 program are also eligible to apply. Acceptance notifications will be sent on September 1th.

REFERENCES

1. Huetten, M., and Thieman, M. Money at the Margins – from political experiment to cashless societies. In: Bitcoin and Beyond: The Challenges and Opportunities of Blockchains for Global Governance. Routledge, 2017. Pp. 25-47.

2. Power, T., and Au, S. Tokenomics. Packt Publishing, 2018.

3. Zelizer, V. The Social Meaning of Money. Princeton University Press, 1994.