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Monthly Archives: June 2017

Indie Games in the Digital Age (Anthology)

deadline for submissions:
July 1, 2017

full name / name of organization:
MJ Clarke CSULA, Cynthia Wang CSULA

contact email:

The digital realm has reconfigured the ways in which production and consumption of games happen. Consider some prominent examples:

In May 2011, self-taught game developer Andrew Spinks released his own world-building game after only five months of production. The game, Terraria, now available on all major computing and gaming platforms, has sold over 20.5 million units, but is still only available through Spinks’s own publishing firm, Re-Logic.

In June 2013, student video game developer Toby Fox pitched his own project, Undertale, on the financing platform Kickstarter using the free-to-use production tool, gamemaker. After raising over $50,000 for his game, Fox’s Undertale sold over 2 million units before being named 2015 Game of the Year by several video game trade journals, including IGN.

In August 2012, the disillusioned pen-and-paper game developer Monte Cook left his job at the publisher of industry leader, Dungeons & Dragons, and pitched his own roleplaying system, Numenera, directly to fans in a Kickstarter campaign that earned over $500K. Subsequently, the game has become a brand-franchise spawning a series of spin-offs, novels and video games.

In November 2010, a group of high school friends from Chicago presented a version of their game, Cards Against Humanity, as a Kickstarter campaign. After surpassing its modest funding goal, the game sold over 500K units in the next three years and enabled its creators to generate a number of politically minded publicity stunts in the wake of Trump presidency.

In February 2016, two stay-at-home moms and escape room aficionados launched their Kickstarter campaign for a home-based, single-use escape room board game called Escape Room in a Box. They hit their goal of $19,000 within 14 hours, and were ultimately funded for over $130,000, necessitating shifting their game manufacturing plans from inviting friends to make the games by hand to looking at options for mass manufacturing. The two creators are working on a new game, and have created their own puzzle and games consulting company, The Wild Optimists.

In all these cases, creators have leveraged the ease and availability of networking through online platforms and, as a result, have forged paths to both creative and financial success previously unavailable. Traditional mass media and game publishing models have operated with high barriers to entry and high production costs, reinforcing capitalist power structures, wherein the richest, most privileged, most connected and the most culturally, socially and artistically normative have had the best chance to have their creative works made and exposed to a wide audience. And because mainstream board game companies like Mattel and Hasbro, as well as traditional video game companies such as Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony have presided over an oligarchical system, independent game makers historically have had limited chances to get their work in front of an audience without directly working with one of these gatekeepers.

Investigating the products and practices of indie game makers presents scholars with an opportunity to reconsider the debate over user-generated content and digital labor more broadly. How much does the dissolution of mainstream gaming’s production chokeholds on financing, marketing, distribution and production empower indie game makers to rethink cultural, economic and political models? Conversely, how are indie game makers potentially exploited by new media platforms that siphon off their biopolitical labor, reinforcing and re-interpellating them into traditional models of capitalism and power?

We are interested in contributions that both expand and problematize this binary by closely examining independent games and their makers as components of a distinct and emerging culture of production that often does imagine complexity in the economic, social and cultural decisions of its makers.

We seek contributions from scholars in media and video games studies, communications studies, anthropology and sociology, and any other associated disciplines who are interesting in developing grounded case studies of indie game makers; theoretical models of indie game work and / or style; historical examinations of developments within indie games; and critical analyses of particular indie game makers, formats or significant indie games titles. More specifically, we are interested in how indie games intersect with a wide array of concepts including (but not limited to):

Production, distribution, and labor

Collaborative circles, microcultures, and social movements

Financing, crowdfunding, and multiple market approaches

Game aesthetics and mechanics

Serious games, critical games, and critical gameplay

Social justice, community/coalition building, advocacy

Entrepreneurial & innovation theory

Informal media and “grey” markets

Digital affordances

Artisanal and craft movements

Social media and networks

Historical perspectives

Folk culture and practices

Mainstream incorporation/co-optation of indie games

Comparative studies of indie games across platforms and media

Video game streamers, broadcasters, and let’s plays

Please submit a 500-word abstract to by July 1, 2017. If you have any questions, please feel free to email MJ Clarke at and/or Cynthia Wang at

Drawing the Past: Comics and the Historical Imagination

Edited by Michael Goodrum (Canterbury Christ Church), David Hall (Old Dominion University), and Philip Smith (University of the Bahamas)

In a short comic, available during the 2014 Free Comic Book Day event, the dimension-hopping villain Morlan killed the Jacobean Spider-Man on the stage of the Globe Theatre in a reimagined version of Shakespeare’s England. The release of the comic was bookended by the publication of volume one and two of John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell’s epic multi-volume non-fiction comic March, which seeks to document the key events of the Civil Rights Movement. The two comics are radically different in terms of style, genre, and purpose, but both engage in the process of (re)creating and (re)imagining history.

This multi-authored volume seeks to examine the many ways in which history has been explored and (re)presented through comics. It spans non-fiction, historical fiction, and speculative comics. It asks, for example, how V for Vendetta has changed our understanding of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot, how readers are meant to think about the Constitutional Convention when its participants are put in conversation with Batman, how Hip Hop Family Tree portrays historical personages, and how comics such as Maus or Persepolis manage the fraught relationship between memory and image?

Abstracts due by July 15 2017, first drafts, each 5,000 words, due December 2017. Please send submissions and queries to

The editors’ previous work includes Superheroes and American Self Image (Ashgate 2015). Reading Art Spiegelman (Routledge 2015), and the forthcoming Gender and the Superhero Narrative (University Press of Mississippi).

CfP: Tolkien and Jackson Fan Studies Special Issue (06-15-2017)

Articles on fan studies scholarship on any aspect of fan production, creation, or activities relating to J. R. R. Tolkien’s Legendarium and/or Peter Jackson’s live-action film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are invited for a special theme issue of The Journal of Tolkien Research (JTR). First drafts will be reviewed by the editors; final drafts be submitted for double-blind peer review.

Deadline for submission to editors: June 15, 2017 (Proposal or First Drafts)

Deadline for submission to JTR: October 30, 2017 (Final Drafts)

Co-editors: Katherine Larsen klarsen@gwu.ed
Robin Anne Reid

The Journal of Tolkien Research (JTR) is a peer-reviewed electronic journal published on ValpoScholar, the publishing and institutional repository of Valparaiso University (supported by Bepress). It is an open access journal; content is published immediately once peer reviewers and editors have deemed it appropriate and ready for publication.

Authors have the right to choose which Creative Commons license is appropriate for their content (see Copyright Notice on journal’s homepage). Content will be bundled into an “issue” on a yearly basis, for the purposes of citation and library cataloging requirements. There are three ways to be published in JTR (choose appropriate area when submitting):

1. Peer-Reviewed Article (these articles are double-blind peer reviewed)
2. Article (these articles are editor-reviewed)
3. Conference Paper (papers in this section are not peer reviewed; this section is designated for those who wish to share their Tolkien-related conference papers with the broader community; Creative Commons license/appropriate citation applies for those who wish to cite or quote)

Aims & Scope
The Journal of Tolkien Research (JTR) has the goal of providing high-quality research and scholarship based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) and on transformative and derivative texts based on his work to a wide and diverse audience. The journal therefore offers the opportunity to all scholars working in and on Tolkien research to publish their original research articles in an open access and widely-distributed high quality peer-reviewed scholarly journal.