Call for Papers: Immersive Experiences

We have seen an explosion of designed participatory immersive experiences in numerous fields — from live action role-playing games to enveloping museum exhibitions, from amusement park experiences to immersive theatre, and from enveloping visual art to escape rooms. From leisure and art this mode of designed engagement has spread to marketing, work, education, and even spirituality in the form of curating worship. The “experience economy” now employs carefully structured human interaction, often with playful flourishes, to create participatory narrative experiences.

While the realm of immersive experiences is particularly wide and varied, inhabiting a meticulously designed self-contained space is at its core. This space is shared with others in a mutual act of pretence, and usually features curated human interaction (“audience participation”) that turns guests into participants. Embodiment and physical co-presence seem central to this trend, although many of the experiences are technology-enabled, using either off-the-shelf or purpose-built devices. This combination of spatial and temporal demarcation and the co-constitutive relationship between human and non-human actants makes contemporary immersive experiences a rich site for scholarly analysis from a range of disciplines.

We are seeking submissions from scholars studying different aspects of immersive and participatory experiences. In addition to game studies oriented research, we particularly invite papers that focus on making sense of the emerging field in a more holistic manner through prisms such as ethics, design, economy, aesthetics, critical analysis, or participant experience. As this field is ephemeral and dispersed, we also invite analyses of particular pieces that document and situate past works. The seminar encourages contributions relating to all types of immersive experiences, be they digital, non-digital, or hybrid.

The possible list of topics includes but is not limited to:

  • Reading and interpreting communal works like live action and tabletop role-playing
  • Visual art, performance, and participation
  • Social justice perspectives on immersion, privilege of immersion
  • Role of the visitor in immersive museum exhibitions and brand flagship stores
  • Escape rooms for leisure and learning
  • Commercialization of the personal in experience economy
  • Audience and performers in immersive theatre, pro wrestling, or murder dinners
  • Spect-actors, inter-immersion, simulacra and other theoretical departures in immersive experiences
  • Gender and sexuality in immersive play spaces, like amusement parks
  • Aesthetics of VR and AR environments
  • Scaling liveness in games, theatre, and larp
  • Intensity and intimacy in participatory experiences
  • Personalizing spirituality and curating worship
  • Rhetorics of experience economy
  • Designed togetherness (conventions, fan events, theme parties, restaurant experiences)

Immersive Experiences is the 16th annual spring seminar organized by Tampere University Game Research Lab. The seminar emphasises work-in-progress submissions, and we strongly encourage submitting late breaking results, working papers, as well as submissions from graduate and PhD students. The purpose of the seminar is to have peer-to-peer discussions and thereby provide support in refining and improving research work in this area. The seminar is organized in collaboration with the Center of Excellence in Game Culture Studies.

The papers to be presented will be chosen based on extended abstract review. Full papers are distributed prior the event to all participants, in order to facilitate discussion. Two invited expert commentators, Dr. Aleena Chia (Simon Fraser University) and Dr. Usva Seregina (Goldsmiths, University of London), will provide feedback on the papers. The seminar will be held in Vapriikki, the museum center that hosts The Finnish Museum of Games.

The seminar is looking into partnering with a journal so that the best papers would be invited to be further developed for publication in a special journal issue. In the past we have collaborated with Games and Culture, Simulation & Gaming, International Journal of Role-Playing, and ToDiGRA journals.

The seminar is held in Tampere during the event week of Solmukohta-Knutpunkt 2020, the annual Nordic meeting-point for larp designers and experts. Other events during the week are Tampere Larp Festival, Edu Larp Summit, Nordic Larp Talks, and Solmukohta 2020 proper. For more info, see https://solmukohta.eu/

Submission guidelines

The papers will be selected for presentation based on extended abstracts of 500-1000 words (plus references). Abstracts should be delivered in PDF format. Please use 12 pt Times New Roman, double-spaced, for your text. Full paper guidelines will be provided with the notification of acceptance.

Our aim is that all participants can familiarise themselves with the papers in advance. Therefore, the maximum length for a full paper is 5000 words (plus references). The seminar presentations should encourage discussion, instead of repeating the information presented in the papers. Every paper will be presented for 10 minutes and discussed for 20 minutes.

Submissions should be sent to: gamestudiesseminar@gmail.com.

Important dates:

Abstract deadline: January 13, 2020 January 20, 2020
Notification of acceptance: January 27, 2020
Full Paper deadline: March 9, 2020
Seminar dates: March 30-31, 2020