CFP: Play, Procedure, Procedurality – PLAY/PAUSE symposium at the University of Birmingham, January 2018.

The inaugural Play/Pause symposium will be taking place on the 24th January 2018. For more information, see below:

PLAY/PAUSE Symposium – 24th January 2018, University of Birmingham, B15 2TT



Gaming the System: Play, Procedure and Procedurality in Videogames and Virtual Reality

Procedures are embedded ways of understanding our cultural, social and political systems; they provide fixed guidelines and rules to be followed. While procedures are seemingly fixed, procedurality, on the other hand, is a constantly evolving mechanism for ‘creating, explaining or understanding processes’ (Bogost, 2007). For our inaugural event, PLAY/PAUSE welcomes papers that will analyse procedures and procedurality in relation to videogames and Virtual Reality (VR).

Does the procedurality of videogames offer us, as programmer Brie Code argues, the tools to adapt to a twenty-first-century ‘overwhelmed with shock, with information, with change’? Or are videogames an embodiment of the controlled degrees of freedom offered to individuals under late-capitalism and neoliberalism? Does VR technology offer unprecedented immediacy and the potential to be, as Jennifer Alsever calls it, ‘the ultimate empathy machine’? Or does it further indulge a misguided impulse towards mastery of our physical environment? And what of ‘metagames’, Stephanie Boluk and Patrick LeMieux’s term for the games ‘occurring before, after, between and during games’? Are the hacks, speed-runs and fan-made mass-involvement games like Twitch Plays Pokemon (2014) a creative flourishing of the commons? Or do they simply indicate the outsourcing of labour by media industry discourses?

This symposium provides a meeting place for researchers within and outside the field of game studies, and seeks to broaden the academic consideration of videogames and VR: away from the consideration of them as niche, relatively new technologies, towards mediums that have the capacity to encourage and create academic discourses that reflect the cultures they are created in.

We welcome a broad range of proposals for 20-minute papers on the role or significance of procedurality in regards to (but not limited to) the following topics:

  • The interplay between narrative and ludic elements of videogames
  • Embodiment and modes of perception in videogames and/or VR
  • Gaming, metagaming, and fan cultures
  • Videogames and philosophy
  • Representing and playing history in videogames
  • The influence of videogames on other media, e.g. novels, films, plays, etc.

Abstracts of no more than 250 words, along with a bibliography and short bio, should be sent to by Friday 22nd December 2017. We particularly welcome proposals from PGRs and early career researchers.

PLAY/PAUSE is part of the Centre for Digital Cultures at Birmingham, fuelling academic discussion of Videogames and Virtual Reality.



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