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Immersions: Breaching Reality through Play
42nd Annual Convention of the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 7-10, 2011
New Brunswick, NJ

Contributions are sought for an April 2011 panel/publication on the
aesthetics and intermediality of immersive and pervasive gaming.

In a world which has all but gone digital, new ludic explorations of the
porous “magic circle” between reality and fantasy are now fully underway. As
part of one game environment or another, Danes now dress as hobos and live
as such for several days, Japanese women wander around a soccer field with
pre-programmed cell-phones to coordinate a musical piece via physical
proximity, Germans wear redface and practice what they see as Native
American customs, and New Zealanders collaborate with Weta Workshop to stage
vast pseudo-medieval battles, to name but a few. These events are often
recorded on video or film, but the immersive quality of the event itself
eludes its own record. Swedish game designer Andie Nordgren once described
such pervasive gaming as “a bit like being inside a movie, while watching it
at the same time.” Older recorded media forms are still inscribed into a
steadily diversifying body of games designed to blur boundaries between
character, player and person.

This panel seeks critical approaches to the aesthetics of immersive fiction
(e.g., live-action role-playing, historical reenactment, alternate reality
games, etc.) and non-fictional immersion (e.g., synthetic worlds such as
Second Life, reality shows, etc.), specifically attending to the tropes
deemed sufficient to “immerse” the subjects, communication about the
boundaries of fiction and the correspondingly cynical portrayal of such
subjects in television, literature, film and journalism. Though such
research has been typically left to researchers in marketing, communications
and the emerging field of game studies, this panel offers an important
opportunity for scholars trained in the humanities to weigh in on these
“new” forms of narrative and performance. Of particular interest are
submissions dealing with such tropes outside of a U.S. context, within a
cultural studies framework and/or against a backdrop of dramatic theory.

Possible topics may include:

* “Symptoms” of immersion
* First person and second person narrative theory
* Nordic and American role-playing theory (The Forge, Solmukhota, etc.)
* Filmographies / Bibliographies of role-playing games
* Games and performativity
* Alternative reality games / “Unfiction”
* Immersive marketing
* Games channeling real agency/problem-solving (cf Jane McGonigal, Malik
Hyltoft)
* Live-action role-playing - character immersion vs. performance
* Affect and immersive fiction
* Game rules as emotional, perceptive and narrative arbiters
* Living history television as reenactment documentary (Schwarzwaldhaus
1902)
* Reality television as construct of ritual and play
* Second Life as non-fictional immersion
* Immersion and “alief” (cf Tamar Szabó Gendler, Paul Bloom)
* Media fiction dealing with the dark side of immersion (The Experiment,
Mazes and Monsters)
* Non-fiction examining immersed subjects (Darkon, No Name City, Life 2.0)

Please send 300 word abstracts (MSWord preferred) to panel chair Evan Torner
(etorner[at]german.umass.edu).

Deadline: September 30, 2010

Please include with your abstract:

Name and Affiliation
Email address
Postal address
Telephone number
A/V requirements (if any; $10 handling fee with registration)

The 42nd Annual Convention will feature approximately 360 sessions, as well
as pre-conference workshops, dynamic speakers and cultural events. Details
and the complete Call for Papers for the 2011 Convention will be posted in
June: www.nemla.org.

Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session;
however panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention
participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative
session or participate in a roundtable. Do not accept a slot if you may
cancel to present on another session.

42nd Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 7-10, 2011
New Brunswick, NJ – Hyatt New Brunswick
Host Institution: Rutgers University

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