Depictions of Power: Strategy and Management Games (call for chapters)

“… one needs to comprehend how power operates, especially in games, for games are an artform of power and choice.”

Mary Flanagan (2019)

This call seeks chapters to be included in an edited book that would be titled Depictions of Power: Strategy and Management Games. Accepted proposals will be included in a submission for the collection “Approaches to Digital Game Studies” at Bloomsbury.

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Context

One could say that strategy and management games are the quintessential depictions of power. Rather than being centered on a single character, these games put the players in situations where they have power over other entities or other players. Moreover, narrative contextualization in the genre depicts the player as a leader, manager, governor, warden, general, or even as a god of some sort. As such, they take an implicit or explicit stance on power, through control, agency, identity, ownership, affiliation, or loyalty, for instance.

The book would assemble texts on how power is depicted and/or experienced in strategy and management games (through gameplay, narrative, dialogs, mechanics, systems, etc.). Most games overemphasize the agency of the player, but others offer a critical perspective on war or control. Both strategy and management games are treated as a unique corpus to underline their similarities and to go beyond a sole militaristic perspective. This project has one a priori: games must be criticized and questioned, but they can themselves criticize and question power. As such, they must be explored, analyzed, and contextualized in the history of gameplaying.

Strategy and management games are taken here in their broad sense, including real-time or turn-based strategy, builders, life simulations (The Sims, Stardew Valley, etc.), grand strategy, tycoons (Planet Zoo, etc.), multiplayer arenas, tactical role-playing games, or tactical roguelikes.

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Here are examples of themes that would fit in the book:

  • The history of strategy and management games
  • Game development considerations
  • The experience and representation of marginalized groups
  • Racism, postcolonialism, and decolonization
  • Regimes of governmentality or political affiliations in or through games
  • Identification and the personnification of warfare
  • Benevolence and safe spaces in game communities
  • Power relationships in e-sports and competitive games
  • Historical verysimilitudes, discourses on or alternative history
  • Resignation or hope in (post)apocalyptic or ecological management games
  • The work of a singular author or company operating in the genre

Contributions from feminist, postcolonial, and queer perspectives are strongly encouraged, as are works that highlight more marginalized or underground games, including casual games which have been overlooked in the genre.

Format

To encourage a diversity of contributions and of cases studied, proposals to this book can take two formats:

  1. Short case studies of a single game or highlighting a situated play (4,000-5,000 words);
  2. Classical theoretical essays or longer case studies (7,000-8,000 words).

Each proposal must include: the title of the contribution, the format chosen, an abstract no longer than 750 words (excluding references), and a short author’s bio.

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Proposals are expected to be sent in a single document to simon.dor@uqat.ca by August 15th, 2022. They will be evaluated according to their originality in the field, the clarity and feasibility of the abstract, the inclusion of the theme of the book, and the overall diversity of approaches, themes, and games studied. To fulfill this goal, contributions coming from marginalized and underrepresented communities (BIPOC, LGBTQI+, people with disabilities) are most welcome.

Acceptances of the proposals will be sent by September 30th, 2022. Minor revisions to the abstracts could be asked if needed before being included in the book proposal.

If the book proposal is accepted, the full contributions will be expected by March 1st, 2023.

Work cited

Flanagan, M. (2019). Taking binaries of the table. Dans J. Saklofske, A. Arbuckle, & J. Bath (eds.), Feminist War Games ? Mechanisms of war, feminist values, and interventional games (p. 195‑201). Routledge.

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Amplitude Studios. (2014). Endless Legend [PC]. Amplitude Studios.