Digital Heroisms

May 13, 2020

Hello Digital Heroes!

We are excited to announce the Digital Heroisms Conference, which will be held completely online on August 5th. The deadline for submissions is July 8th and papers accepted to the conference can be submitted for potential publication in a special issue of Press Start. Please see the full CFP below:

Digital Heroisms is an online conference exploring Fantasy, the digital, and the concept of heroism in collaboration with the Games and Gaming Lab based at UofG College of Arts, University of Glasgow School of Critical Studies and Game Studies at Glasgow.

"The power of the fantasy increases if it offers us something genuinely new and compelling. The limitations of our own corporeality can be abolished or the ground rules changed to give us new experiences.” -Kathryn Hume

Where readers once understood heroism through a Gilgamesh, a Frodo, or a Katniss, the digital subject can now figure heroism through actions, decisions, and events that are in many ways their own. Video gaming has an especial talent for creating heroes that are lived-through by their users, whether this is via the experience of leading characters such as Link through the temples of Hyrule; via choice-based play utilising avatars such as Frisk of Undertale fame; or by creating entirely unique personas in role play games such as Dragon Age. In a contemporary moment enabled and mediated by a multiplicity of digital spaces, the way we conceptualize heroism will be both enabled and contaminated by games, the virtual, and ever-increasing screentime. The realm of the digital, functioning as a receptacle of imagination can equip players with the means to express the self. Digital spaces can serve as a conduit for both ludic and fantastical impulses. Heroic research must adapt to this interactive environment – its places, its communities, its values – if it is to keep a handle on the heroic constellation formed of informatic, computational and digital materials.

Fantasy scholars and authors alike have sought to define the Fantasy genre. Whether that be as experienced by characters as "hesitation" (Todorov, 1970), a loose genre that can be described as a "fuzzy set" (Attebery, 1992), or as being "the mirror of mimetic literature and its inner soul" (Mendlesohn, 2008), digital iterations of fantasy have enhanced and extended our capability to experience the immersion of fantastic worlds. Though Fantasy video games may pay tribute to the literature from which it sprang, each form with its differing modes of performance allows the Fantastic an opportunity be presented in all of its heterogeneity; players are given the opportunity to experience a new kind of protagonism, a heroism that enables the player to effect and interact with fantasy narratives. The interactivity offered by video games can enable players to experience the self in new ways, whether that be through choice-based narratives, the player-led exploration of a Walking-Simulator, or via avatars which enable players to live the "posthuman fantasy of extending the human subject beyond itself" (Boulter, 2015) and craft fantasy personas.

The symposium will be seeking submissions for 20 minute papers on themes such as, but not limited to, the following topics:

Defining/constructing digital heroism
The converging interests of fantasy and digital heroism
Digital and fantastic video game environments and their effect on heroism
Fantasy video games and avatar creation
Fantastic VR experiences, the self, and digital heroism
The social/theoretical implications of digital iterations of fantasy
Considerations of digital spaces as fantastic ones
Heroic fantasy video game character(istics)
Considerations of what heroism means in the digital age
Problems with digital heroism
Digital heroism examined through:
Convergence culture
Participatory culture
Queer Studies
Disability Studies

After the conference, authors will be encouraged to submit their papers to be considered for publication in a special issue of Press Start. Speakers interested in this opportunity can submit their drafted proposal to the organising committee after the conference. Please see the Press Start website for the submission guidelines and style guide.

Please submit your paper as a 250 word abstract and 100 word bio to by July 8th.

We look forward to receiving your contributions to Digital Heroisms!
Organising Committee:
Monica Vazquez (University of Glasgow)
Gabe Arcana (University of Glasgow)
Francis Butterworth-Parr (University of Glasgow)
FB: Digital Heroisms
Twitter: @DigitalHeroisms