CFP: Philosophy at Play Conference 2017

philosophyatplayThis conference might be of interest to some game philosophers. From the organizer’s website:

“The three previous conferences and ensuing publications have opened up dialogue and paradigmatic bridge building between scholars of play and philosophers. The conferences have given rise to an emerging community of very diverse scholars interested in a wide range of philosophical areas of enquiry (for example, metaphysics, ontology, aesthetics and ethics) and fields of practice (such as the arts, games and gaming, sport and children’s play). This conference hopes to continue this epistemological and paradigmatic bridge-building.”

University of Gloucestershire, UK on 11 and 12 April 2017. The Call for Papers is found here. The deadline for proposals is November 18.


Panel for PCG2016: What does it Mean to do Game Philosophy?

This year’s conference on the philosophy of computer games will celebrate its tenth iteration. We want to use this opportunity to reflect on what it means to do game philosophy in the format of a panel.

The practitioners of game philosophy belong to different research traditions and make use of different academic methods. The aim of this panel is to present views on methodological issued raised by the study of games and to conduct a political debate about how game philosophy should be performed. 

Venue: KSU Common Room (Msida campus)

Time: 16.00 – 17.30, November 1.

Chair: Sebastian Möring


Feng Zhu

Circularity and Self-reflexivity in the Critical Theory Approach to Computer Games

I will take the concept of ‘critical theory’ in a very broad sense to designate any self-reflective knowledge that provides both descriptive and normative bases for social enquiry, and which aims to promote emancipatory ends. As such, it may incorporate a range of thinkers not traditionally associated with ‘critical theory’, such as Michel Foucault. In relation to computer games, the approach from critical theory wants to theorise their connection to the broader social reality, such as the thesis of neoliberalism being the present mode of governmentality, and identify how those objects, in conjunction with the dispositions that we bring to our use of them, have a role in transforming or in further entrenching that reality. I argue that this holistic approach is circular in both a self-reflexive fashion, which adds to the degree of sophistication in the way in which we understand the relation between object and context, but also a self-affirming one that is viciously circular, in which the obdurate particularity of the object is obscured in favour of it merely reflecting what has been considered to be true of the present situation. This might be seen to be evidenced in statements such as computer games being ‘in direct synchronization with the political realities of the informatics age’ (Galloway, 2004, p.35), or computer games as ‘the paradigmatic medium of Empire’ (Dyer-Witheford & de Peuter, 2009, p.xv). Is it possible, then, for a critical approach to self-correct the deficiencies of this circularity whilst also retaining its positive aspects?


John R. Sageng

Why the Study of Games Needs Analytic Philosophy

In our interdisciplinary work we have inevitably encountered the distinction between “continental” and “analytic philosophy”. The aim of my presentation to clarify what analytic philosophy is and to recommend that we adopt its methods, also for topics which are thematized in other styles of philosophy and games scholarship. I will also address this issue from a practical context of how this field has developed and the strategic choices we should make moving forward.

I propose that analytic philosophy is characterized by an intellectual methodology which can be derived from historical cases of “conceptual” or “decompositional” analysis in early analytic philosophy. I argue that analytic philosophy today does not have a very specific specific mode of analysis, but rather a style of thinking defined by an intellectual ideology: that philosophical thinking should explicate and satisfy the normative commitments inherent in the practice of assertion and belief-formation that arise from the concepts of the phenomena to be explained. It is an historically evolved cultivation of rational standards for thinking which found an early form in Socratic analysis. Such standards are often offended in other styles of thinking today. I hold that this methodology can be applied to any subject matter in game philosophy and is ideally suited to create a shared horizon for a philosophical understanding of games. 


Marta M. Kania

On Existential Aesthetics of Computer Games

Existential philosophy and aesthetics are focused on experiences of life and art, that is, on unrepeatable. While grounded in being-in-the-world, existentialism claims the primacy of the individual and everyday over the general and abstract. In consequence, it provides a framework for interpretation of particular games as worlds that existentially situate players pointing out the way to unite the existential and the textual in interpretation of games.

The main advantage of the outlined existential approach is that it grasps and describes multidimensional experience of the gameplay on the basis of close playing. The interpretation is grounded in the in-game perspective. Therefore, interpretation of a gameplay, aesthetics of the gameworld, and an analysis of subjective in-game position, are considered to be a group of elements of equal significance. In-game existentialism does not aim at objectification of the experience, that would lead to assertions about the game as an object, system, or root of player’s experience. Alternatively, it points out at conditions and limitations of subjective perception and position within the gameworld.

This approach results in limited claims for objectivity and for “correctness” leading to falsifiable theory. As long as the central existential problem areas and categories seem to be apt for description of experience of gameplay and aesthetic reflection upon it, they need to be understood in the horizon of strong vs. weak interpretation rather than (scientific) knowledge.

The desired result are the interpretation of situatedness of the self-avatar within the gameworld; aesthetic understanding of the gameworld from the point of view of the self-avatar; and recognition of opening of the field for aesthetic interpretation, while the gameplay situation turns out to be one of the multiple possibilities from the point of view of aesthetic situation.


Olli Leino

Phenomenology and Player Experience: Game Studies from the Player’s Perspective

The notion of ‘player experience’ has become central in many debates concerning game studies and game design. Scholars and designers alike would assumedly agree that the goal behind enquiries into player’s experience is to understand the how games’ features end up affecting the player’s experience. But what is “player’s experience” and how is it to be understood? What is the relationship between the materiality of the game, the process or activity of gameplay, and the experience of gameplay? What are the conditions by which it is possible for experiences to be shared amongst players? What purpose, if any, does the vocabulary of ‘formal’ game analysis (e.g. rules, goals, challenges) serve in understanding player experience? These, I argue, are questions that philosophy of computer can help answering, and thus assist game studies in its project.

In my presentation, informed by (post-)phenomenology and existentialism, I exemplify this by arguing that there is a difference between “studying a game by playing it” (3rd person perspective) and “studying a game as played” (1st person perspective), and that the latter is more suitable for understanding player’s experience. I will argue that the materiality of the playable artifact, as it appears in the game-as-played, while perhaps not conforming to any pre-supposed idea of a ‘game’, already contains a standard for its own interpretation, that forms the basis for inter-subjective accounts of player’s experiences.

Post doc. for Analytic Philosopher – Making Sense of Games

itupostdocIT-University of Copenhagen offers a post doc. position for an analytic philosopher as a part of the project “Making Sense of Games”.  From the announcement:

Job description
The two-year position is connected to the five-year ERC-funded project MSG – Making Sense of Games, at the Center for Computer Game Research at the IT University of Copenhagen. The successful candidate will work as part of a dedicated team (PI Espen Aarseth, three PhD students, one additional post.doc) to create a theoretical platform for game analysis. The position’s main task is to participate in the core project activities of developing analytical concepts and models for game ontology.

The ideal candidate should document:

  • strong qualifications (PhD) in analytic philosophy (preferably philosophy of mind and/or philosophy of language) and solid qualifications in game studies
  • research publications at a high international level in well-respected peer reviewed venues

– See more at:

Conference: Just a Game? The Aesthetics and Ethics of Video Games

This conference is organized by The British Society of Aesthetics and Aesthetics Research Centre, UK.  From the description on their website:


“This international conference seeks to explore relevant connections between the ethics and aesthetics of video games, thereby also drawing on insights from the philosophy of mind, philosophy of information, and feminist philosophy.”

The Conference is held 24-25 June 2016


CFP: European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment – SI on Green Computer and Video Games

This call for European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment may be of interest to some game philosophers:

ecozonCall for Papers

Ecozon@: European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment 8.2

Autumn 2017

Guest editors:  John Parham (University of Worcester, UK) and Alenda Chang (University of California, Santa Barbara)


Green Computer and Video Games

In Last Child in the Woods (2008) Richard Louv indicts computers and game consoles as part of his thesis that the generations of children born since the 1970s are suffering from ‘nature-deficit disorder’. Yet gaming, now, is an enormous growth industry while, correspondingly, computer or video games are rapidly becoming a key area of research in ‘ecomedia’ or green cultural studies.

Ecocritical studies of games and gaming raise fundamental questions about the capacity of popular culture to present complex ecological and environmental ideas and themes and to raise public awareness, not least amongst substantial, often younger, audiences. In several studies critics have legitimately argued that games and gaming can have ecologically or environmentally damaging consequences: they can serve to remove, distance or screen us from nature; games can be ideologically complicit as Witherford and de Peuter suggest, powerfully, in Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games (2009); moreover, as Maxwell and Miller argue in Greening the Media (2012), supposedly low impact new media, including video or computer games, have merely perpetuated the detrimental material-ecological impact of ‘old media’: waste and pollution created by ‘planned cycles’ of obsolescence; or the toxic risk of rapidly discarded and dismantled components of disposable, rapidly evolving media technologies.

Nevertheless, a green reading of computer games encapsulates the contradictions that govern popular texts’ engagement with environmental or ecological themes. In that context, consideration of the anthropocentric and/or ideological dimensions of electronic games has to be balanced and offset against a variety of factors: the educational utility of ‘serious games’; McKenzie Wark’s argument that games productively dissolve the boundary between the virtual and the real (Gamer Theory (2007)); Alenda Y. Chang’s argument that we can learn ecological principles in the act (and interactivity) of playing a game (‘Games as Environmental Texts’, Qui Parle 19:2 (2011)); a complex ‘media ecology’ encompassing both a rich tradition of independent, countercultural, and ‘dissonant’ games, game companies, and gaming communities and online, massive multiplayer games where intercultural dialogue might facilitate an ‘eco-cosmopolitan’ popular culture. Most substantially, at the level of the text, there is also the potential of ‘meditative’ or immersive games to constitute a deep ecological sense of ecological interconnectedness; or, conversely, the role that educational games can play in teaching the precepts of ecological science or in nurturing awareness by simulating processes of social-ecological decision-making around topics such as energy supply, conservation, or the construction of sustainable cities (as in SimCity 4).

Proposals are invited for, but not limited to, essays considering video or computer games in relation to:


  • representation, and the modelling of nature, environment, the sublime etc.
  • interplays of real/virtual, action/simulation, the physical world/gamespace.
  • imagining and constructing utopian and/or dystopian societies.
  • environmental awareness and the formal properties of games/gaming, encompassing: interactivity; gameplay; narrative; game design; algorithmic structure; software code etc.
  • games and sustainable education.
  • games and scientific education.
  • genre studies: e.g. farm games; strategy games; conservation games; ‘meditative’ games; adventure games.
  • framings of nature and/or ideological framing in computer games.
  • modes of production: the gaming industry; ‘indie’ games; massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs); public sector/educational games.
  • ‘dissonant’ games, gamers, games companies.
  • intercultural and ‘eco-cosmopolitan’ dimensions to gaming.
  • the eco-materiality of game production, distribution, waste, recycling etc.
  • games and ecocritical theory e.g. mimesis; dark ecology; material ecology.


Please direct your questions to John Parham Manuscripts (6.000 – 8.000 words) should be submitted via the online journal platform no later than January 15th, 2017. See All submissions will be subject to peer review. Authors must comply with the guidelines of Ecozon@ as indicated on the platform, including title, abstracts and keywords (these must be provided in the language of the article, and in English and Spanish). MLA style is expected for citations. Permission must be obtained for any images used and included in the text. Manuscripts will be accepted in English, French, German, and Spanish. Submissions in other languages may be considered. Please discuss with the editors.

Although this is not a formal requirement, we would like to encourage potential contributors to contact the guest editor with an abstract (approx. 500 words) prior to handing in their full article. Please submit your abstract by September 15th, 2016.

The Next PCG-Conference will be held in Malta

The next conference in the PCG-series will bstefanodanielvallettae held in Malta, and will be hosted by The Institute for Digital Games, University of Malta. The organizing committee leader is Stefano Gualeni and the program committee leader is Daniel Vella.   Currently, the new chairs are in the process of constituting the committees. We are very grateful to the Malta-team for hosting the 10th conference in the series! More updates will follow later on.

Book: The Philosophy of Emerging Media

9780190260750A new book on the philosophy of emerging media has been published by Oxford University Press, editors Juliet Floyd and James E. Katz. It does not have a focus on computer games specifically, but the wide variety of issues it discusses should certainly be of interest to our field as well. I have a paper in it called “Agential Properties in Computer Games”, which outlines the idea that games and computer games are based on non-representational “agential properties” projected using the same cognitive mechanisms as social ontologies make use of.


CfP for Inaugural Issue for Journal of the Philosophy of Games

We are very happy to present the call for papers for the inaugural issue for Journal of the Philosophy of Games. The journal was first mentioned as an idea at the conference in Istanbul, but now it is happening. We believe that this journal will be an invaluable tool for our community.

Note that a special issue is planned for the papers from the last conference. Please help us forward the call to relevant people or lists.


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Call for Papers for Inaugural Issue

The Journal of the Philosophy of Games (JPG) welcomes papers for the inaugural issue. JPG is an open-access publication hosted by the University of Oslo, Norway.

JPG aims to explore philosophical issues raised by the study of games, with a particular emphasis on computer games. We invite contributions both from traditional philosophers and from scholars in other diciplines.

Articles are subject to double blind review and evaluated on the basis of originality, philosophical argumentation and mastery of relevant literature.

The journal does not accept submissions that are under consideration for other publications.

Examples of issues for which we invite submissions are definitions of key concepts in the study of games, the ontological status of objects and events in games, the nature and role of mental attitudes central to game play, rules, the player-avatar relationship, the moral evaluation of in-game actions or the societal role of games.

Contributions should make use of specific examples of games and not merely invoke them in general terms.

We welcome book reviews. Please contact the editorial board to ascertain that a review would fit the editorial profile.

The submissions should be no longer than 7000 words and adhere to the Chicago Manual of Style, Sixteenth Edition.  Articles are submitted electronically on the journal website. Please refer to the author guidelines. The final deadline for the inaugural issue is March 1, 2016.

A separate call will be issued in 2016 for a special issue about the theme “Meaning and Computer Games” (Editor Sebastian Möring).

Editorial board

C. Thi Nguyen, Utah Valley University, United States
Johnny Hartz Søraker, Department of Philosophy, University of Twente, Netherlands
Anita Leirfall, University of Bergen, Norway
Prof. Dr. Stephan Günzel, BTK – University of Art and Design, Germany
Patrick John Coppock, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy
Rune Klevjer, University of Bergen, Norway
Olli Leino, City University Hong Kong, Hong Kong
John Richard Sageng, University of Oslo, Norway (Editor-in-Chief)

Advisory board

Olav Asheim, University of Oslo, Norway
Kendall Walton, University of Michigan; Stanford University, United States
Grant Tavinor, Lincoln University, New Zealand
Ian Bogost, Georgia Institute of Technology, United States
Espen Aarseth, IT-University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Luciano Floridi, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Graeme Kirkpatrick, University of Skovde, Sweden
Don Ihde, Stony Brook University, United States
Thomas Hurka, University of Toronto, Canada
Eric Olson, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
David Myers, Loyola University, United States
Jesper Juul, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Denmark
Dominic Lopes, University of British Columbia, Canada