Call: Special Issue of Well Played on Playable Theatre

Call for Proposals

Special Issue of Well Played: Playable Theatre
Edited by Celia Pearce & Nick Fortugno

Submissions deadline: 30 June 2020

The rising popularity of immersive theatre works such as Third Rail’s Then She Fell and Punch Drunk’s Sleep No More, has given rise to new hybrid forms of live entertainment that combine aspects of games and theatre. These “playable theatre” works draw extensively from digital games, Big Games, tabletop and live action roleplaying (LARPs) combined with theatrical conventions and methods to create fully immersive, participatory live theatrical events in which the audience plays a substantive role in the experience.

We use the term “playable theatre” to distinguish works that engage meaningful audience agency from more passive forms of “promenade” theatre where the audience’s role is strictly navigational. Works of this type include a wide range of genres, scales and contexts, from highly theatrical “Nordic larping” traditions, to theme park experiences, to “puzzle plays” that integrate aspects of escape rooms and performance, to site-specific and pervasive/progressive live events. They can also draw from a variety of theatrical methods such as improv, process drama, and devised theatre.

The rise of these works has been accompanied by a rediscovery of Pine & Gilmour’s concept of the “Experience Economy,” spurred by scientific research that people who spend money on experiences are happier than those who spend it on goods. The aim of this special issue is to explore critical and practical aspects of this emerging form and develop a shared vocabulary across disciplines to advance both scholarship and innovation in this emerging art form.

For this special issue we invite experiential play-throughs, theoretical papers, critical analyses, and post-mortems by practitioners, across domains from around the world, that explore the many facets of live, interactive experiences. As an interdisciplinary issue, we welcome researchers and creators from theatre, digital and analog game studies, performance studies and related disciplines.

ETC Press is accepting submissions for this special issue of the Well Played journal.

All submissions are due by 30 June 2020

All submissions and questions should be sent to:

well-played (at) lists (dot) andrew (dot) cmu (dot) edu


The Well Played Journal is a forum for in-depth close readings of video games that parse out the various meanings to be found in the experience of playing a game. It is a reviewed journal open to submissions that will be released on a regular basis.

Contributors are encouraged to analyze sequences in a game in detail in order to illustrate and interpret how the various components of a game can come together to create a fulfilling playing experience unique to this medium. Through contributors, the journal will provide a variety of perspectives on the value of games.

The goal of the journal is to continue developing and defining a literacy of games as well as a sense of their value as an experience. Video games are a complex medium that merits careful interpretation and insightful analysis. By inviting contributors to look closely at video games and the experience of playing them, we hope to expand the discussion, and show how games are well played in a variety of ways.

The ETC Press is an academic and open-source publishing imprint that distributes its work in print, electronic and digital form. Inviting readers to contribute to and create versions of each publication, ETC Press fosters a community of collaborative authorship and dialogue across media. ETC Press represents an experiment and an evolution in publishing, bridging virtual and physical media to redefine the future of publication.


ISSN 2164-344X (Print)
ISSN 2164-3458 (Online)


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