Call for Proposals: The Sporting Mindset: A Well Played Special Issue

Though often viewed as special category of games, sports is really an approach to play. The popular conception of the sporting mindset puts certain values ahead of others, and positioning games as a means to an end rather than an experience unto itself. Sometimes, the sporting mindset brings out the best in us; sometimes, the worst. Sports as community institutions play a complex role in our culture. Sports produce values, behaviors, and cultural conventions that simultaneously include and exclude; that encourage and nurture some while rejecting others; and that celebrate aesthetic performance and violent behavior all at once. These cultural and play values manifest in all manner of games: crossword puzzles, videogames, collectible card games, athletics, cooking competitions, and reality TV shows, to name a few.  

Well Played seeks essays for a special issue on play experiences through the lens of sports. Submissions by women, people of color, LGBTQ+-identifying, and differently abled are especially welcome.

Like all Well Played essays, successful submissions will combine “close playing” combined with broader insights into the experiential, critical, cultural, historical, and/or formal meaning and impact of gameplay. We are open to essays for esports, physical sports, sport simulation video games, and any other form of play that can be categorized as a sporting experience.

Through this issue, we hope to explore a number of questions about the relationship between sports and game, between simulation and representation, and the impact of player attitude toward a game.

  • How does a game change when played as a sport?
  • How does it stay the same?
  • Who do sports communities include?
  • Who do they exclude?
  • Are sports metagames inside of other games?
  • Or a category of game unto itself?
  • Are there essential qualities that keep us from seeing sports as games, and sporting play as play?
  • What are the ways in which the sporting mindset positively and negatively impact culture?

Submission Details

  • ETC Press is accepting submissions for this special issue of the Well Played journal now, and all submissions are due by June 11, 2018.
  • All submissions should be sent to: well-played (at) lists (dot) andrew (dot) cmu (dot) edu
  • For more information about our formatting guidelines, visit our Well Played Style Guide

This special issue of Well Played is edited by editorial board member John Sharp in conjunction with “A Whole New Ballgame: playing through 60 years of sports video games,” an exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image from July 15 2018 to January 3, 2019.

Does my submission count as a sport?

Sports is a broad category. If you’re wondering whether your proposal might fit this special issue, please feel free to ask. Just send an email to well-played (at) lists (dot) andrew (dot) cmu (dot) edu and our editors will respond!

About the Well Played Journal

The Well Played Journal is a forum for in-depth close readings of games that parse out the various meanings to be found in the experience of playing a game. It is a reviewed journal open to submissions that will be released on a regular basis.

Contributors are encouraged to analyze sequences in a game in detail to illustrate and interpret how the various components of a game can come together to create a fulfilling playing experience unique to this medium. Through contributors, the journal will provide a variety of perspectives on the value of games.

The goal of the journal is to continue developing and defining a literacy of games as well as a sense of their value as an experience. Games are a complex medium that merits careful interpretation and insightful analysis. By inviting contributors to look closely at games and the experience of playing them, we hope to expand the discussion and show how games are well played in a variety of ways.

The ETC Press is an academic and open-source publishing imprint that distributes its work in print, electronic and digital form. Inviting readers to contribute to and create versions of each publication, ETC Press fosters a community of collaborative authorship and dialogue across media. ETC Press represents an experiment and an evolution in publishing, bridging virtual and physical media to redefine the future of the publication.

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ISSN 2164-344X (Print)
ISSN 2164-3458 (Online)