Call: “Smart Cities at Play: Technology and Emerging Forms of Playfulness” issue of Behaviour & Information Technology Journal

Call for Papers

Behaviour & Information Technology Journal
Special issue on Smart Cities at Play: Technology and Emerging Forms of Playfulness

Deadline for submission of paper abstracts: 1 October 2018

Smart cities can be described as places where physical environments are combined with information technology to rectify socio-economic and environmental issues. In recent years, technologies embedded with the global positioning system (GPS) have been increasingly used to shape more efficient urban spaces. Locative data, for instance, is regularly employed to determine the severity of traffic, just as it has become pivotal to ridesharing services. Likewise, such data is used to better understand human mobilities, monitor crowds during large gatherings, and theorise the spatial behaviours of tourists.

At the same time, the application of locative data extends beyond simply better-organising space. GPS enabled smartphones and the mobile web have been instrumental in developing location-based social networking sites (LBSNs) and hybrid reality games (HRGs), both of which explicitly involve the technological mediation of playful practices and encounters. In all of these instance, then, digital technologies are increasingly part of our daily lives. While this might be the case, for the most part scholarly attention has focused on the technologies used to construct these environments. What is missing from these discussions is a deeper engagement with the lived experience of ‘smart spaces’, and the extent to which this confluence of the physical and digital is currently configuring new explicit and/or implicit forms of play.

Certainly, HRGs like Pokémon Go quite literally allow users to ludically interact with their physical surroundings which challenges how we formalise and conceptualise our sense of place. In contrast, digital technologies also permit new approaches to space and place which might not be planned for, but are still notably playful nonetheless. The social value of emerging hospitality services, for instance, not only challenges how short-term accommodation is understood, but also elicits modes of inhabitancy that move beyond the sterility of hotels and towards something more gamic. Recent reports, however, demonstrate that not everyone is able to partake in these services, with various stories emerging of individuals being refused access due to their ethnicity.

It is only by examining the lived experience of smart cities that we are able to reveal how these environments are actually experienced and the inconsistencies that often remain hidden when discussions focus solely on technology. To this end, our special issue will explore how experiences of the city might be changing as a result of new technological practices that are currently creating both explicit and implicit playful possibilities, as well as moments of resistance that reveal socio-cultural problems of participation. Significantly, we will do this using an interdisciplinary approach that brings together noteworthy scholars engaged in smart city research from areas including computer science, geography, sociology, and media studies.

We invite researchers and practitioners from all related disciplines to contribute papers that reflect on the themes of explicit and implicit play and playfulness in the context of smart cities outlined above. We also welcome proposals that readily engage with new methodological ways of approaching these issues.

If you are interested in contributing to this special issue please send a one page abstract (500 words), title, authors, affiliations, emails and contact information by the due date. The abstract should be sent as an email attachment to the Special Issue Guest Editors using the email (CC,, by 1st of October 2018. Guest Editors will reply to authors by 15th of October 2018. Only manuscripts of approved abstracts will be considered.

Dates for your diary

1 October 2018: submission of paper abstracts
15 October 2018: notification of accepted paper abstracts and feedback to authors
1 March 2018: submission of full papers for review
1 April 2018: notifications of acceptance and reviews returned to the authors
1 June 2019: submission of revised full papers
1 July 2019: final notification of acceptance to the authors
5 July 2019 camera-ready due


If you have any questions about this call for papers, please contact Catherine Jones ( and/or Konstantinos Papangelis ( and/or Michael Saker (


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