Call: Gaming and the Arts of Storytelling Symposium and Special Issue

Call for Papers

Gaming and the Arts of Storytelling Symposium and Special Issue

Symposium (Abertay University – 9th May 2018). Keynote: Professor Espen Aarseth, Centre for Computer Games Research, IT University of Copenhagen.

Symposium deadline (500 word abstract): 5th March 2018.

Special Issue of the journal Arts deadline (5000-8000 word article): 31st May 2018.

“…information must absolutely sound plausible. For this reason, it proves incompatible with the spirit of storytelling. If the art of storytelling has become rare, the dissemination of information has played a decisive role in this state of affairs.” – Walter Benjamin, The Storyteller.

Storytelling encompasses narrative. As the vogue for ‘environmental storytelling’ suggests in the case of digital games, narrative is only one way in which games tell stories. Concept and environment artists are storytellers. Character designers are storytellers. Level designers are storytellers. Game designers are storytellers. Marketers are storytellers. Streamers are storytellers. Even CEOs are storytellers.

Narrative encompasses storytelling. For literary critic Walter Benjamin, storytelling is a subset of narrative: one that is indissolubly linked with the presence of the storyteller with whom we “Stay awhile, and listen”. Newer forms of narrative such as the novel and the information-rich mass media signal a decline in storytelling. Where the storyteller is the patient advocate for all created beings, information is focused on this thing, at this time.

However, Benjamin’s concerns are enduringly historical. What does the incorporation of our bodies into technological matrices and big data systems – such as we see with the rise of gaming – signal for the fortunes of storytelling? Is it time to further historicise the relations between information, storytellers and storytelling?

Storytelling is often a crucial term in academic discussions of digital games, even if it appears with some ambivalence. For Ian Bogost, storytelling is a question that needs to be attenuated as games mature: “The true accomplishment of What Remains of Edith Finch is that it invites players to abandon the dream of interactive storytelling at last”. For Janet Murray, both humans and computers are co-contributing storytellers, presaging the future “cyberbard and the multiform plot”. N. Katherine Hayles insists on an attentiveness to the materiality of which stories are made, and the novelty of digital storytelling brings fresh light to the entire field: “As the vibrant new field of electronic textuality flexes its muscle, it is becoming overwhelmingly clear that we can no longer afford to ignore the material basis of literary production”.

We invite 500-word scholarly abstracts for 20-minute papers that use gaming to focus their discussion of contemporary storytelling. Abstracts and a 100-word bio should be emailed to Darshana Jayemanne (d.jayemanne@abertay.ac.uk) by 5 March 2018. The symposium coincides with Abertay University’s Digital Graduate Show.

We also invite 5000-8000 word scholarly articles for a special peer-reviewed issue of the journal Arts (ISSN 2076-0752) on the theme of Gaming and the Arts of Storytelling, with a deadline of 31 May 2018. This is an open call, but selected presentations from the symposium will be invited to contribute a full paper. Instructions for Authors can be found here:
http://www.mdpi.com/journal/arts/special_issues/gaming_and_storytelling

An expanded version of this CFP can be found here:
https://www.academia.edu/35805174/Gaming_and_Storytelling

Potential topics may include:

  • conceptualizing storytelling
  • storytelling and the figure of the storyteller
  • storytelling practice in digital games
  • storytelling, games and stylistics
  • “primitives” of videogame storytelling
  • pedagogy and storytelling
  • Indie, casual and AAA; FPS, RPG, MMO, MOBA, adventure: how do different game genres tell stories?
  • What constitutes “game-like” storytelling in other media, and how do specific textual ties and media-specificities affect game storytelling?
  • How has gaming given rise to novel storytelling texts and practices? What is the relation of videogame storytelling to proximate forms?
  • Storytelling, myth and legend: How do these forms appear and interrelate in games?
  • What is the contribution of music and audio as storytelling devices in specific games?
  • What do contemporary storytelling practices in the wider culture have to say about the future of games, and vice-versa?
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