Call for Papers: Digital Heroisms Special Issue

August 18, 2020

Call for Papers: Special Issue on “Digital Heroisms” 

Following the success of the “Digital Heroisms” online conference, we’re excited to announce a call for papers for the Press Start special issue which explores fantasy, the digital, and the concept of heroism. Press Start is an open access, peer-reviewed student journal that publishes the best undergraduate and (post)graduate research from across the multidisciplinary subject of Game Studies. The CFP is open to both under and postgraduates who contributed to the conference, as well as other students inspired by the topic. To submit, you must be a registered student or within one year of graduating. Please see and adhere to the Press Start submission guidelines (     


"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 (2014, p. 165)  

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, p. 68), a loose genre that can be described as a “fuzzy set” (Attebery, 1992, p. 12), or as being “the mirror of mimetic literature and its inner soul” (Mendlesohn, 2008, p.59), 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 the genre 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 that enable players to live the “posthuman fantasy of extending the human subject beyond itself” (Boulter, 2015, p. 3) and craft fantasy personas. 

The issue will be seeking submissions 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  
    • Feminism  
    • Postcolonialism  
    • Queer Studies  
    • Disability Studies  

Please email a 250-300 word abstract to by October 1, 2020. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out within a couple weeks and full papers will be due by January 1, 2021. 

Articles in Press Start are normally expected to be 3000-5000 words in length, but for this special issue, longer papers of up to 8000 words (including references and abstracts) will be considered. Informal enquiries may be directed to Gabe Elvery Cohen ( and Francis Butterworth-Parr (, or feel free to join our friendly Facebook Group at, as well as the Digital Heroisms Discord server ( where we will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.  



Attebery, B. (1992). Strategies of fantasy. Indiana University Press. 

Bioware. (2014). Dragon age: Inquisition [Multiple Platforms]. Electronic Arts. 

Boulter, J. (2015). Parables of the posthuman: Digital realities, gaming, and the player experience. Wayne State University Press. 

Collins, S. (2008) Hunger games. Scholastic.  

Fox, T. (2015). Undertale [Multiple Platforms]. Toby Fox. 

Hume, K. (2014). Fantasy and mimesis: Responses to reality in Western literature. Routledge. 

Mendlesohn, F. (2008). Rhetorics of fantasy. Wesleyan University Press. 

Nintendo EPD. (2017). The legend of Zelda: Breath of the wild [Nintendo Switch].  Nintendo. 

Sandars, N. K. (1972). The epic of Gilgamesh. Penguin. 

Todorov, T. (1975). The fantastic: A structural approach to a literary genre. Cornell University Press. 

Tolkien, J.R.R. (1994) The fellowship of the ring. Houghton Mifflin Company.