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[Commlist] CfP journal gamevironments Special Issue "End Games: Apocalyptic Play"

Fri Feb 26 03:37:37 GMT 2021





End Games: Apocalyptic Play

edited by Rachel Wagner


Deadline for 300-word abstracts 01. April 2021


Video games are, in a way, a natural vehicle for telling apocalyptic stories. Games are structured to involve an imminent end to life as we know it, and often involve a limited time frame in which to complete the game’s mission. They can involve a messianic savior figure, especially in the form of the first-person narrative shooter, in which the player takes on a role of saving the world through self-determined judgment and violence. They may involve otherworldly journeys or otherworldly figures that function as guides to a reality beyond the game itself. They may draw explicitly on biblical imagery, or they may approach fears about the world’s end through more secular means.

Apocalypticism has been around since before the formation of Christianity, showing up in ancient Jewish and Christian traditions in which the authors describe an imminent end to the world as we know it, and positing a coming violent judgment on those perceived to be the enemies of believers. Apocalypticism crops up throughout Christian history, most often as a means of coping with crisis, such as massive illness, social or political threats, and perceptions of powerlessness. One can consider apocalypticism as a genre of religious literature, as a political perspective, and as an approach to storytelling. Apocalypticism can be viewed literally by those who expect a transcendent deity to forcefully intervene in human affairs, or more symbolically, in the secular apocalypses that depict fictional crises like zombie uprisings, cataclysmic wars, or resource shortages leading to social unrest. Contemporary artists might consider the apocalyptic impact of natural crises like water pollution, polar melt, and climate change. Apocalyptic visions may be driven by human messianic urges, or they may depend upon an external force of redemption. They are almost always characterized by violence or destruction. And they seem an incredibly common focus for the creators of video games.

The analysis of video games with apocalyptic impact can take a number of different approaches. It may involve reference to the contemporary analysis of ancient apocalyptic literature. It may refer to biblical themes like those presented in Daniel or Revelation. It may draw on contemporary evangelical Christian dispensationalism, Islamic apocalypticism, or Jewish apocalypticism. And of course it may also be a form of contemporary secular apocalypticism, drawing on widespread fears about climate change, nuclear war, or social unrest.

The scope is broad. Submissions may focus on design-based or structural links to apocalypticism in video games, as in otherworldly journeys to fantastic spaces that evoke heaven or hell or some other realm. They may consider how games work, looking at the periodization of time as provoking a kind of apocalyptic experience. They may consider the function of rewards and punishments as an apocalyptic theme in gaming, or they may consider how games approach (or deny) hopes for an afterlife. They might ask what it means that players take on crucial roles for themselves with new agency as apocalyptic messiahs, god-figures, or agents of punishment.

Submissions might consist of readings of video games with /post/-apocalyptic themes (religious or secular), imagining what the world might look like /after /an apocalyptic event, and what it might mean to survive in the violent (or not-so-violent) aftermath of world-shifting events. Authors might also consider games that deal with actual contemporary apocalyptic fears, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, portraits of Donald Trump as a messiah, or the threat of global collapse. Considerations of games of any style are welcome: serious games, fictional games, religious games, and games intended for entertainment (but please query what other functions they may also serve). The hope is that all submissions will thoughtfully consider what happens when games introduce apocalyptic elements, what synergies and tensions are produced, and what the cultural impact of this relationship might be.

We live in a world awash in apocalyptic concerns.

  * How can we learn more about our world and ourselves by thinking
    about the apocalyptic games we play?
  * What is gained by looking for apocalyptic themes, structures,
    influences, or approaches in video games?
  * What role does violence play in accomplishing a game’s apocalyptic
    mission, and why might this matter?
  * Who wins and who loses, and why does a game or set of games present
    these dualistic perspectives?
  * What can we learn about ourselves as players or as people by looking
    at the games we make and play with apocalyptic purposes?



Submit a title and 300-word abstract to Rachel Wagner ((rwagner /at/ <mailto:(rwagner /at/>) by 1. April 2021.

Possible formats for submission include:

a) regular academic articles

b) interviews

c) research reports

d) book reviews

e) game reviews

All articles submitted will be subject to double-blind peer-review.There is no article processing charge.

For more on submission formats and guidelines see: <>__


For further information visit:


Title and abstract submission: 1. April 2021

Full text submission: 1. July 2021

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