Call for Papers: Gamebooks

Games and books have long standing relationships. From the Cave of Time choose your own adventure book to Nier: Automata World Guide, Warhammer 40.000 Core Rule Book, Sleeping Gods storybook board game, Overwatch Anthology comic book, Dragons of Autumn Twilight novel, A Beginner’s Guide to Go, and The Lusty Argonian Maid in Elder Scrolls, “gamebooks” can come in many forms. They can, for example, provide the context for games to unfold, explicate the rules, contain inspirations to guide gameplay, or augment and expand gaming and play with a reading experience. While some approaches to game studies have deep roots in literature studies, the many ways in which games and books combine still leaves much room to investigate.

Through interrogating games as books, books as games, and book-game hybrids we can uncover their relationship to different ludic and literary traditions. Books can sustain or contest the hegemonic cultural and societal values related to games and game cultures. Games can take the form of books that we “read” through gameplay. Accordingly, how do we understand this interplay between games and books? What kind of gamelike elements and experiences do books have, and what can we learn about books by playing them like games? The way technological development has affected the interplay of games and books, brings forth more questions related to values, materiality, and production. Rulebooks, for example, have traditionally been essential for analog games, but were once central for digital games as well. Will game related books be reduced to Kickstarter stretch goals and collectors’ items when the growing popularity of tutorial videos, virtual tabletops, and interactive companion apps have diminished or changed the role of game related books? Or would we see an invasion of books into digital gamespaces as In-game books and transmedia novels are becoming cost efficient solutions for deepening and expanding the game world and the player-reader experience?

These are just some potential dimensions and questions related to myriad ways books and games come together. For the Spring Seminar of 2022, we are seeking submissions from scholars studying different aspects of gamebooks, book games or any combinations of the two. In addition to game studies and literature studies oriented research, we particularly invite papers that challenge and question existing ideas of game-book hybrids from any perspective. We strongly encourage creative interpretations of both the concepts of “game” and “book” and their possible interrelations.

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

  • Games in the form of books: Choose your own adventure, puzzle books, interactive comics, etc.
  • Representations and remedializations of books in games, visual novels
  • How are games created textually: rules and descriptions, crunch and fluff in game sourcebooks, rule books, expansion books, source books
  • Technological developments affecting the interplay between games and books
  • Books based on games: novelizations of games, expanded universes of games, fan created game related books, transmedia storytelling
  • Games and game-based applications based on books
  • Published paratexts on games: e.g., titles such as “Art of Game X” or the “Making of Game y” books, strategy guide books, walkthroughs, recipe books
  • Production: How are gamebooks made? Who makes them? Why are they made? How do ‘writing’ and ‘design’ intersect?
  • Books signaling the cultural and societal values of games and game cultures
  • Gamebooks as collectibles, as crowdfunding stretch goals, as vanity items
  • Materiality and aesthetics of gamebooks
  • Books as toys: pop-up books, children’s books, tactile books, activity books
  • Accessibility and gamebooks: adaptations to braille, game audio books
  • Methodology: Is game studies able to address these issues, where should methods be borrowed from and how do they need to be adapted

Gamebooks is the 18th annual spring seminar organised 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 organised in collaboration with the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies.

The papers to be presented will be chosen based on extended abstract review. Full papers are distributed prior to the event to all participants, in order to facilitate discussion. The seminar will be chaired by Professor Frans Mäyrä, and there will be two invited expert commentators (to be announced later) to provide feedback on the papers.

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

The seminar will be held at Tampere University, Finland. The seminar is free of charge. Remote participation will be possible as well. The seminar is augmented with a physical visit to The Finnish Museum of Games and other social programme.

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. 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.
Seminar website: https://springseminar.org/

Important dates

Abstract deadline: 21 January 2022
Notification of acceptance: 10 February 2022
Full Paper deadline: 8 April 2022
Seminar dates: 5–6 May 2022