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Call for Papers
Made in Asia/America: Why Video Games Were Never About Us
Edited Collection aimed to be published by a significant University Press.
Editors: Christopher B. Patterson (University of British Columbia) and Tara Fickle (University of Oregon)
300-500 word abstract: September 15, 2020
Queries and submission: firstname.lastname@example.org
This collection seeks to reframe recent discourses of video games from questions of self-representation and identity within North America to consider how many games arrive as foreign and “unknowable” commodities that are manufactured and designed in Asia. Since the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985, Asia has remained the center for manufacturing video game hardware (China and Southeast Asia), the center of game innovation and the birthplace of most game genres (Japan), and the largest reliable resource of consumers (nearly half of game players reside in Asia). In being inextricably tethered to Asia, we ask, how have video games produced new racializations of Asia and of Asians around the globe through forms of digitization, “gamic” worlds, and play itself?
By de-centering game studies’ discourse from Western perceptions of games to the intersections of Asia and Asian America, Made in Asia/America: Why Video Games Were Never About Us aims to provide 1) a transpacific take on gaming that makes room for nuanced questions about the places and cultures where production and reception occur; 2) frameworks that can account for the imperial circulation of games while also attending to minority and queer experience, practice, and methods; and 3) a genre-expanding approach that incorporates conversations among scholars and Asian/Asian American game designers.
The 2010s have seen a rise in critical game studies scholarship responding to events like #GamerGate, #BlackLivesMatter, and the politicization of games during the “war on terror.” Collections like Gaming Representation (2017), Queer Game Studies (2017), and Woke Gaming (2019) have reframed game studies through the interdisciplinary lenses of queer theory, critical race studies, and cultural studies.
Because games have always been closely tied to Asia in terms of audience, design, assembly, and aesthetic innovation, this edited collection will seek to expand on these previous projects to understand video games through the lenses of Asian American Studies and American Empire Studies. We seek work from scholars in these and related fields of Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Transpacific Studies, Critical Ethnic Studies, Indigenous Studies, Queer of Color Critique, Queer Asian Studies, Sinophone Studies, Southeast Asian Studies, Oceania and Pacific Studies, and Archipelagic Studies. Made in Asia/America will explore how games have been framed as forms of “digital Asia,” as products of Asia and transpacific empire, and as techno-orientalist commodities. Like previous collections in critical game studies, we also seek work that explores how games have permitted forms of solidarity, collaboration, and resistance for marginalized communities.
We hope to continue the recent tradition of books like The State of Play (2015), Queer Game Studies (2017), and The Queer Games Avant-Garde (2020), by involving game designers in roundtable collaborations, as interview subjects, and as essay contributors themselves. We invite essays and collaborative projects from scholars as well as game designers and artists.
Potential essay questions
- How can we analyze a figure of racial representation in a game that is not from the West, or made with Western audiences in mind?
- How have Asian Americans been present in games as players, fans, and e-sports celebrities? What are the perceived Asian American relations with games?
- How have games “blended” Asia and North America? How have terms like “digital Asia,” or “Asiatic” helped grasp game aesthetics and politics? How have games established new forms of techno-orientalism?
- How have games woven forms of Asian aesthetics and representation with queer desires and trans* representations? What can games tell us about the erotics of race and empire?
- What obligations do game studies scholars and game designers have to address forms of violence and exploitation that games are (sometimes inaccurately) associated with?
- How do virtual game worlds affect perceptions of race beyond state-recognized identity forms? How have twitch streaming and youtube playthroughs racialized and re-politicized games?
- What are the barriers between game scholars and game designers/journalists that limit forms of collaboration and engagement?
- How has other popular culture (TV, film, literature) affected the racial forms seen in games?
- How do games from Asia affect Western understandings of racist and colonial structures, including settler colonialism, histories of empire-building, forms of neoliberal multiculturalism, and racial capitalism?
- How have games envisioned bodies, spaces, and aesthetic forms that are neither white-western nor East Asian? How have games from Asia and/or America impacted global understandings of Oceania, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, and the relations among these regions?
- How have games been crucial to developing critical cultural and structural understandings of racism and empire? How have game cultures offered intersectional, decolonial, and transnational ways of thinking? How have games been associated with transpacific forms of protest and activism?
Please email as a Word attachment an abstract of 300-500 words and brief bibliography to email@example.com by September 15, 2020. Please include a brief bio, with your preferred name and pronouns. Chapters are expected to be anywhere from 4,000-7,000 words (including notes and references). Interviews, roundtables, and short essays are expected to be 2,000-5,000 words. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by October 1, 2020, and first drafts will be due by February 1, 2021.
Christopher B. Patterson