Call: What’s Next? The Future of Digital Entertainment – Communication Research Reports special issue

Call for Papers

What’s Next? The Future of Digital Entertainment
A Special Issue of Communication Research Reports

Guest Editors:
Allison Eden (Michigan State University)
Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn (University of Georgia)

Nicholas D. Bowman (West Virginia University)

Priority submission deadline: January 15, 2018

In the past years, with the advent of technology such as streaming media services, combined with market penetration of smartphones, tablets, and highly interactive platforms, such as immersive virtual environments (popularly known as “virtual reality”) and augmented reality, there has been a dramatic uptick in the number of hours per day we spend with digital media. A good portion of this time is solely devoted to entertainment, or as Zillmann and Bryant put it, “any activity to delight and, to a smaller degree, enlighten through the exhibition of the fortunes or misfortunes of others, but also through the display of special skills by the other and/or self” (1994, p. 438). Despite this centrality of entertainment to the digital media experience, academic research has lagged in its ability to analyze and understand what people are doing, thinking, and feeling with and about digital entertainment and the antecedents and outcomes of digital entertainment. The aim of this special issue, therefore, is to showcase state-of-the art research on digital media entertainment (broadly inclusive of all entertainment products, content, and services used for pleasure, leisure, amusement, recreation, relaxation, fun, enjoyment, interest, or diversion).

What’s coming next, and what can we expect based on what we are seeing now? What does the future hold for smartphone users, streaming media services, video/online games and apps, virtual and augmented environments, and social media? Research submitted for publication in the special issue should thus:

  • Present findings in brief empirical form on motivations, uses, and effects (intended and unintended) of digital entertainment.
  • Extend our understanding of digital entertainment by revealing the underlying mechanisms (e.g., moderators or mediators), or mutual dynamics such as reciprocal effects, longitudinal perspective, and direction of effects.
  • Test the feasibility and efficacy of practical applications of novel entertainment platforms (e.g., virtual or augmented reality games, streaming services) among diverse audiences.
  • Offer new insights for applying digital entertainment as a vehicle of attitude and behavior change, bridging the gap between theory and the “real life.”

Submission of studies using innovative research designs (e.g., experience sampling or diary research, big data, tracking of media use data, etc.) is strongly encouraged.


We invite the submission of original research in the form of empirical articles (approximately 3,500 words, inclusive of references and tables/figures) and brief reports (approximately 2,000 words, inclusive of references and tables/figures) on the topic of digital entertainment. Papers should focus on method, results, and interpretation of results, while still containing a concise theoretical rationale. Completed research only will be considered; no ongoing or prospective studies without results will be accepted. Please submit papers via ScholarOne Manuscripts at


Articles submitted by the deadline will be peer reviewed and an initial decision rendered no later than the end of February. We expect to have room for between seven and 12 manuscripts in the final issue, based on the length of the final acceptances.

The target publication date for the special issue is the fifth issue in 2018 (Vol. 35). Manuscripts should be prepared in accordance with the journal’s author guidelines (available on the journal’s website at

Questions about this special issue can be directed to Special Issue Editors Allison Eden ( or Sun Joo Grace Ahn ( Questions about the journal broadly should be directed to Nicholas D. Bowman (, Editor-in-Chief.


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