CALL FOR PAPERS
READY READER ONE: THE STORIES WE TELL ABOUT, WITH, AND AROUND VIDEOGAMES
Videogames are a powerful storytelling medium—but what are the stories we tell about videogames, with videogames, around videogames? What can we learn from novels that describe the struggles of young people trapped in virtual reality, from fan fiction that explores the private life of a popular Nintendo character, or from a poem that compares Pac-Man to Saint Augustine?
Quite a lot, actually.
There is an extensive body of scholarship that explores the ways videogames create worlds, construct characters, and tell emotionally compelling narratives. But there has been almost no scholarship on the representation of videogames, videogame players, and videogame culture in literary texts, whether traditional genres like novels, short stories, memoirs, and poems, or non-traditional and emergent forms like fan fiction, how-to-guides, hip-hop lyrics, or young-adult fiction. Our anthology is designed to fill that gap.
The texts that our contributors engage are interesting in their own right. Thomas Pynchon’s deployment of the tropes of retrogaming in Bleeding Edge evinces a fascinating inflection of his “paranoid style.” Hanna Faith Notess’s integration of videogame mechanics into her poetry enables a fascinating and poignant relationship of melancholy, memory objects, and the lyric form. The exploration of videogame addiction in memoirs challenges stereotypes and suggests different ways to understand the entanglement of desire and pleasure in the twenty-first century. The stories of virtual reality in the novels of Ernest Cline, Lauren Beuke, and Liu Cixin map the ways videogames are transforming our bodies, families, and friendships.
But beyond their intrinsic value as works of literature, videogame literature (as we call it) provides meaningful perspectives on what videogames are and what they might be. Videogame literature sheds light on how space, time, and identity are being reshaped by videogames. It helps us detect emergent forms of play, media, algorithmic systems, surveillance culture, and social media. And it helps us better understand the larger stories that surround videogames and those who play them, whether the stories that strengthen stereotypes and intensify prejudice or those that expose and undermine them. The broader implications of our study are reflected in our table of contents, which is organized around five critical themes: remediation, embodiment, affect, players, and paraliteratures. Each of these sections is introduced by Megan or me, providing a definition, history, and critical context of the section’s theme.
The stories we tell about, with, and around videogames matter.
Ready Reader One is under contract with Louisiana State University Press and we have constructed a tentative table of contents organized by a set of key terms and critical concepts
Introduction: Megan Condis and Mike Sell, “What is Videogame Literature?”
Brittany Kuhn, “Printed Training Grounds and Colored Worlds: How Videogames are Structuring Contemporary Literature”
Mike Sell, “Interview with Hannah Faith Notess”
Kristen H. Starkowski, “Nonsense Games: Remediated Practices of Play in Videogame Adaptations of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”
Francis Butterworth-Parr, “Videogame Addiction and Autobiography”
Jarrel de Matas, “Gamifying the Real: Violence and the Posthuman Body in Lucky Wander Boy”
Josh Grant-Young, “Limit-Experience Obsession, and Metaphysical Conspiracies of Horror in Sequence Break, The Polybius Conspiracy, and The Lament Configuration”
Rachel Hill, “The Universe Flickers: Affective Astronomical Simulation in The Three Body Problem”
Holly Parker, “’An Escape Hatch to a Better Reality’: Affect and Evolving Attitudes to Virtual Reality in Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, and Disney’s Tron and Tron: Legacy.”
Anik Sarkar, “The Grammar of Videogames in the Fictional World of Haruki Murakami”
Mike Sell, “Retrogaming and Mourning in Dennis Cooper’s God Jr and Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge”
José Blázquez, “From Players to Storytellers: Participatory Culture in Videogames”
Megan Condis, “Gamers of the World, Unite! Gamification and Governmentality in Ready Player One and For The Win”
Rob Gallagher, “’Ludobiographical’ Life Writing and Histories of Digital Play”
Craig Carey, “Paratextual Plots: Interpretation and Narrative Desire in Videogame Fan Theories”
Caleb Andrew Milligan, “Feeling Reading, Reading Feelies: A Post-Digital Prehistory of the Written Culture of Videogames”
Michał Żmuda, “Games at the Threshold: Paratexts and Storyworld Creation in Digital Games”
We seek essays that address several gaps in our table of contents:
- Novelizations and serializations of popular videogames
- Videogames and Hip Hop
- Literary representations of virtual and augmented reality
- Videogame literatures outside the U.S.
However, we welcome any proposal that offers critical and historical insight into the stories we tell about, with, and around videogames.
Megan Condis and Mike Sell