Friday, September 29, 2006

*The Third Digital Games Research Association International Conference
(DiGRA 2007) "Situated Play"*

Second Circular and Call for Papers

1. Date and Venue

The conference is planned to take place from September 24th to 28th.
This will be immediately after the Tokyo Game Show 2007, which is
currently scheduled from September 21st to 23rd (There is still a small
chance that these dates might change).

The conference venue is expected to be the University of Tokyo's Hongo
campus in Tokyo, Japan. As a thriving center of digital culture and
games, Tokyo is an extremely relevant location for the conference
especially given the proposed theme of "situated play."

2. Conference Theme: Situated Play

Games are everywhere. On subways, we see people playing Tetris with
cell-phones. On the street and in restaurants, kids play with GameBoys
and other portable devices. At home, we gather around the console or
collaborate with a family member to take out a monster in a multiplayer
game. In our offices, we spend stolen moments playing PC games. Our
elderly are whiling away free hours playing online games. Games are
everywhere, and becoming more deeply embedded in the fabric of our
everyday lives.

As digital games penetrate our life and society, they are increasingly
difficult to ignore. Games have created huge industries in some
countries, while still others note this success and clamor to build
industries of their own. The idea of games as mere entertainment is
beginning to fade: the potential of games is now being recognized as
they are becoming progressively more employed for education, job
training, physical exercise, rehabilitation, psychotherapy and more.
Children and adults spend a substantial portion of their life playing
games - in many cases, spending more time with games than television or
other media. Games are now an integral part of our societies and lives.
Games, therefore, deserve serious attention.

Yet, we have a problem. A digital game is an extremely complex
aesthetic, social and technological phenomenon. Games are not isolated
entities that one can effectively study in vitro. Games are situated in
culture and society. To truly understand the phenomenon of digital
games, it is not enough to merely study the games themselves or
short-term impacts as described by laboratory experiments -- these are
only part of the story. Their context begins when the games are
marketed and circulated, and they reach the hands of players. Context
continues to build as potential players satisfy certain prerequisites:
resources to obtain a console or a PC, time and motivations to play
games, and skills to enjoy sometimes very complex digital games. We
need to understand not just narratological and ludological aspects of
the games, but also the industrial and economic contexts that produce
them, and the socio-cultural backgrounds that produce game players and
generate gameplay. In short, to understand games, we need to
investigate at them from multitude of different perspectives.

To make the case even more complex, while games are ubiquitous, they are
geographically diverse, and game play is local. Games are produced and
consumed differently in Japan and in North America. Online games have
different meanings and functions in Korea and in Europe. When we look
at the situatedness of games, we see greater cultural diversity in
games, even beyond the superficiality of geo-political boundaries into
myriad sub-cultures that might find unifying interests across
traditional cultural lines. Gameplay is messy. Yet we must strive to
understand it, even if that means pulling together many small pieces of
the overall puzzle together in the hope that the whole might reveal
itself over time.

We, therefore, need to unite. We need to mobilize all those who can
provide any insights about digital games, from academia to industry,
across a wide range of disciplines and expertise. In particular, we
need to gather voices from around the world to better reflect the wide
range of experiences and perspectives that games solicit. Tokyo is a
very appropriate city for game researchers from around the world to
meet, and an excellent place for game studies scholars to talk with
practitioners from game industry. We propose that this conference be an
opportunity to act as a bridge between West and East, Industry and
Academia, the result being a greater holistic understanding of games,
their impacts, and potential in our world.

3. Call for Full Papers

Papers and panel proposals are invited for the third Digital Games
Research Association International Conference (DiGRA 2007) in Tokyo. The
theme of this conference is "Situated Play." Its goal is to shed light
on various kinds of situatedness of games. In particular, the conference
aims to create a bridge between professionally and geographically
diverse scholars and practitioners. We therefore welcome panel proposals
and papers that tackle various facets regarding the situatedness of
digital games and attempt to combine a range of approaches in innovative

The deadline for papers and panel proposals is midnight (Apia time),
February 14, 2007. The selection will be based on full papers and panel
proposals. The time allotted to one paper is 30 minutes, and the
submitted papers should be between 2500 to 6000 words and an abstract
must be attached. A panel session will have two hours, and a panel
proposal should be up to 800 words in addition to all the full papers in
the panel. Authors and organizers of panels will be requested to
specify a relevant thematic focus (see below) and their relevant
disciplinary backgrounds. Submission will be accepted by an online
review system. Practical details of submission will be announced on the
conference website in January.

Based on the abstracts and the specified disciplinary backgrounds, the
Review Committee Chair Douglas Thomas will assign papers and panel
proposals to a Review Committee member, who will assign three or more
reviewers to the paper. Based on the double-blind evaluation of the
reviewers and taking the relevance of the papers to the conference theme
into consideration, the Program Committee will select approximately 50

In addition to full papers, there will be lightening sessions, student
round tables, and poster sessions. A call for papers for these kinds of
sessions will be announced later. The deadline of submissions for these
sessions is planned to be in May. Further details of the conference will
be announced on the conference website (
as the preparation proceeds. For inquiries, contact Kenji Ito at
kenjiito67 [at]

4. Thematic Foci

Thematic foci are meant to be used to help organize sessions and tracks.
They are mainly for the convenience of conference attendees, and is
certainly not meant to be overly prescriptive.

- Player-Focus: Sociology and economy of MMORPGs, sociological
approaches to games, gender and gaming, player engagement, player
co-production, cross-cultural issues, etc. Relevant disciplines
include: sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, gender studies,
history, economics, and psychology.

- Content Focus: Theory and practice of game design, game storytelling,
game graphics, etc. Relevant disciplines include: literature, film
studies, art studies, and game design theory.

- Learning/Education Focus: Teaching and curriculum development in game
programs, serious games, games at school, learning and games. Relevant
disciplines include: education and psychology.

- Technology focus: Game programming, AI, computer graphics, computer
hardware. Relevant discipline include: Computer science and electronic

- Business Focus: Economics-based studies of game industry, business
models, sociology of game production, copyright and legal issues,
national policy of game production and training, independent/amateur
designers, etc. Relevant disciplines include: business and management,
economics, sociology, history, law, and political sciences.

- Interdisciplinary: Any studies to cross these themes or innovative
attempts that do not fit in any other theme areas.

5. The Review Committee Chair, International Advisory Board, and the
Local Organizing Committee Douglas Thomas (University of Southern
California) has kindly agreed to be the chair of the Review Committee.

The International Advisory Board provides advice to the Local Organizing
Committee and oversees the Review Committee. The current members of the
International Advisory Board are:

Espen Aarseth, IT-University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen
Matteo Bittanti, IULM University, Milan
Staffan Björk, Göteborg University and The Interactive Institute, GAME
Studio, Göteborg
Suzanne de Castell, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver
Tak-Wai Chan, National Central University, Jhongli
Adrian David Cheok, National University of Singapore, Singapore,
Marinka Copier, University of Utrecht, Utrecht
Patrick Crogan, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide
Drew Davidson, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh
Gonzalo Frasca, IT University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen
Jesper Juul, IT University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen
Tanya Krzywinska, Brunel University, London
Frans Mäyrä, University of Tampere, Tampere
Janet H. Murray, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta
David Surman, Newport School of Art, Media and Design, Newport
Annika Waern, Swedish Institute of Computer Science, Kista
Sang Min (Leo) Whang, Yonsei University, Seoul
Eric Zimmerman, Gamelab, New York

The members of the Local Organizing Committee are:

Akira Baba, The University of Tokyo (Chair)
Akinori Nakamura, Ritsumeikan University
Kiyoshi Shin, IGDA Japan
Kenji Ito, The University of Tokyo

The Local Organizing Committee is a part of DiGRA Japan, which was
recently established as a Japan Chapter of DiGRA. DiGRA Japan's website
is: For inquiries, please contact Kenji Ito
at kenjiito67 [at]

--- end of call ---

Monday, June 12, 2006

DiGRA 2007 website

The webpage for DiGRA 2007 has been uploaded. It does not have much information yet, but it is going to have a lot more.
The URL is:

Sunday, May 28, 2006

DiGRA 2007 Review Process Proposal

I have been busy writing this:

DiGRA 2007 Review Process Proposal version 0.01

This document is produced to elaborate the review process proposed in the original DiGRA 2007 proposal. The review process proposed here generally follows the guideline outlined by "DiGRA Review Process: A guide for the review Process in DiGRA Conferences" ( In particular, the review process proposed here aims to achieve the same goals as described in "DiGRA Review Process." There are, however, several differences in its way to achieve these goals. Those differences will be mentioned later.
The following review process is proposed to be applied to the category of full paper presentations (or pre-organized sessions of full paper presentations). The review process for other categories of presentations will be discussed elsewhere.
The review organization is proposed in consideration of the unique difficulty of an interdisciplinary conference like DiGRA 2007. In order to maintain high academic standards of DiGRA conferences, we need to tackle the following issues:
1. We need to recruit qualified reviewers.
2. We need to find a way to make a good match between a submitted paper and its reviewers.
This proposal attempts to solve these problems by giving a greater role to the Review Committee members, making their function similar to that of an editor of a journal. An author is expected to submit a paper to the Review Committee member whom the author can trust about his or her familiarity with the relevant literature and ability to assign appropriate reviewers.

Review Organization
Two committees will be involved in developing the conference program: The Program Committee and the Review Committee.
The Review Committee will evaluate papers and make recommendation using 1 to 5 scale (strong accept, weak accept, neutral, weak reject, strong reject).
The Review Committee Chair will be recommended by the International Advisory Board and appointed by the Local Organizing Committee.
The Review Committee Chair will recruit the Review Committee members in consultation with the International Advisory Board so that the Review Committee members as a whole can cover all the relevant fields in game studies. However, there can be more than one specialist for one thematic topic, or one Review Committee member can be an expert of more than one thematic topic. The Review Committee Chair will supervise the Review Committee members in their assignment of reviewers and their evaluation of papers.
The Review Committee members will recruit reviewers from their own network and from the list of volunteers and assign papers to appropriate reviewers. The Review Committee Chair and the International Advisory Board will assist locating appropriate reviewers.
The Program Committee is chaired by the Conference Chair and consists of the Review Committee Chair, a representative from the International Advisory Board, a representative from the Local Organizing Committee, and the President of DiGRA. The role of this Program Committee is to make the final decision about which papers to accept following the recommendation of the Review Committee, and compile the program.

Thematic Categories
Tentatively, themes include:
 Player-Focus: Sociology and economy of MMORPGs, sociological approaches to games, gender and gaming, player engagement, player co-production, cross-cultural issues, etc. Relevant disciplines include: sociology, anthropology, history, economics, and psychology.
 Content Focus: Theory and practice of game design, game storytelling, game graphics, etc. Relevant disciplines include: literature, film studies, and game design theory.
 Learning/Education Focus: Teaching and curriculum development in game programs, serious games, games at school, learning and games. Relevant disciplines include: education and psychology.
 Business Focus: Economics-based studies of game industry, business models, sociology of game production, copyright and legal issues, national policy of game production and training, independent/amateur designers, etc. Relevant disciplines include: business and management, economics, sociology, history, law, and political sciences.
 Interdisciplinary: Any studies to cross these themes or innovative attempts that do not fit in any other theme areas. May include game studies-related sessions or symposia.

Review Preparation
1. Guidelines
The general guideline to review a paper will be drafted by the Program Committee based on the version used for DiGRA 2005. Each Review Committee member, however, can modify the guideline to make it fit in the disciplinary convention.
A guideline for evaluating a session proposal will be drafted by the Program Committee.

2. Online review system
Currently, it is our plan to handle the entire reviewing process though a web-based online system.

3. Recruiting Process
The Review Committee Chair is the key in the entire review process. The Review Committee Chair must be a highly regarded scholar with a long career in game studies who has a long experience in reviewing papers and an extensive network of game studies scholars. The International Advisory Board will make the necessary recommendation about the selection of the Review Committee Chair. The Local Organizing Committee will negotiate with the candidates.
As stated above, the Program Committee will be chaired by the Conference Chair and consist of the Review Committee Chair, the President of DiGRA, a representative of the International Advisory Board, and a representative of the Local Organizing Committee.
To facilitate assignment of reviewers, a list of possible reviewers will be compiled by the Local Organizing Committee with the help of the International Advisory Board. The Local Organizing Committee will announce a call for reviewers. In addition, the Local Organizing Committee will recruit appropriate candidates for reviewers by contacting those who served as reviewers in previous DiGRA conferences and those who are recommended by the International Advisory Board.
Those who agreed to be on the list of potential reviewers will be requested to register their contact information and their specialties and interests through the online review system. The Review Committee members will contact them or not depending on what kind of papers are submitted. Reviewer candidates are free to decline to review assigned papers, but must do so immediately.

Review Process
a) Individual paper
1. Submission
Those who wish to present a paper should submit an electronic version of a full paper to the appropriate Review Committee member through the online review system by the deadline set by the Local Organizing Committee. The length of the paper should fit in the time allocated to one presentation (30 minute per paper), and the submitted paper should be as close as the final form of the paper to be presented to increase the chance to be accepted. Along with the text, it will be made possible to submit electronic forms of audio-visual materials such as PopwerPoint presentations.
It is primarily the responsibility of the authors to choose an appropriate Review Committee member for their paper and to identify an appropriate thematic focus (or foci). The Review Committee member, however, must decline to review the paper when there are possible conflicts of interests, as discussed in "DiGRA Review Process." When they were not able to find an appropriate Review Committee member, they should contact the Review Committee Chair.
2. Reviewer assignment
The Review Committee members will read the submitted papers and assign appropriate reviewers. Reviewers will be chosen from the list of reviewer candidates prepared by the Local Organizing Committee or from Review Committee member's personal network based on the content of the paper. In choosing reviewers, any conflict of interests must be avoided.
At least three reviewers should be assigned to each paper, and the Review Committee member assign additional reviewers when necessary.
3. Review
The actual review will be conducted in the double-blind method, namely, both authors and reviewers do not know each other's identity. The reviewers will write a review report along with the guideline defined by the Review Committee member.
When revisions will drastically improve the quality of a submitted paper, a reviewer can suggest revisions of the paper. The evaluation of the paper is still based on the original draft but possibilities of revisions should be noted on the review report and taken into consideration in the final decision to accept the paper or not.
The review committee chair will make the final evaluation of the papers based on the review reports from reviewers.
The review reports should be accessible to the authors, but the names of reviewers will be kept anonymous.

4. Program
The Program Committee will make the program based on the evaluation of Review Committee members.

b) Organized sessions
In the case of organized sessions, each paper of the session should follow the same process as individual papers. There should be a separate session proposal, which should also be evaluated in the same manner. When the session proposal is interdisciplinary, the proposal should be submitted to the Review Committee chair. The responsibility to evaluate the session is on the Review Committee member (or chair) who received the session proposal. The evaluation will be based on the review

Differences from the "DiGRA Review Process"
There are three significant differences:
1. The author takes the primary responsibility to choose an appropriate Review Committee member, whose role is similar to the editor in an academic journal. This prevents mismatch of the paper and reviewers because the author of the paper should know who is the best qualified scholar among the Review Committee members to evaluate the paper (otherwise, that author is not worthy of presenting at DiGRA). In the review process suggested in the "DiGRA Review Process," there are double chances of mismatches. First, a thematic chair might be not completely appropriate to review papers in that thematic genre. Because one thematic category can have a wide range of topics, the thematic chair might not cover all. Second, since there are always possible gaps between thematic categories set by DiGRA and actual topics of the papers, one paper might not completely be judged within one given thematic category.
2. One thematic category (or thematic focus in this document) is not necessarily represented by one thematic chair. Thematic foci are categories more for the convenience of organizing a program without allocating the same time slots to sessions that are likely to have same audience. As stated above, it is not always the case that one scholar can cover all the relevant topics within one thematic category (or focus). Or, in some cases, one scholar can command multiple topics over different thematic categories (or foci). In these cases, it is inappropriate to bind one scholar to one thematic topic.
3. The Review Committee and the Program Committee are separated, whereas in "DiGRA Review Process, there is no independent "Review Committee." The Review Committee should carry out evaluation of papers as thoroughly as possible. It should mobilize as many qualified scholars as possible in order to be prepared to evaluate adequately papers in any genre. The Review Committee Chair should recruit at least 8 to 10 scholars. The Program Committee needs to compile the final program as a team. The program of the conference needs to be coherent and consistent to the theme of the Conference ("Situated Play). Therefore, the size of the Committee should be as small as possible in order to facilitate communication and consensus building among the members. Since the role of the Review Committee and the Program Committee are so different, they need to be separated.

The DiGRA 2007 Dates

The dates of Tokyo Game Show in 2007 are set to September 21-23. We are now considering September 24 to 28 as the dates of DiGRA 2007.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Japan Times article on the DiGRA Japan inaugural meeting

Almost same article is here.
They are probably the first English-language news articles on DiGRA Japan.
Unfortunately, these articles not really accurate about DiGRA Japan. It says, for example:
"According to the group, the association will also try to develop visually impressive game software using the latest image processing technologies and promote academic-industrial collaboration by providing newly developed technologies to companies."
I really don't think that is what we are going to do.
Moreover, this articles does not mention DiGRA 2007.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

DiGRA Japan Inaugural Meeting

I haven't been writing here for a while. This is partly because the skype meetings with Frans and Tanya have been canceled, but mostly because I have been too busy working for DiGRA Japan.
The inaugural meeting of DiGRA Japan took place on May 19. DiGRA Japan has already been declared to be established on April 28 but for various reasons we could not have a meeting on that day. The purpose of this inaugural meeting is to announce the establishment of this new association to the general public and recruit members.
The meeting was a great success. It attracted a lot of media attention. About 120 people attended the meeting (much better attendance than DiGRA itself!), all the major newspaper companies and a lot of game related news companies came to cover the meeting. The meeting went smoothly, the inaugural address of Prof. Baba, president of DiGRA Japan was very successful, and nearly 40 from the audience joined DiGRA Japan. On the next day, newspapers reported this meeting, some news websites had a fairly extensive coverage, and users of SNS sites and blogs began discussing DiGRA Japan.
All these indicate that this new association is something really wanted by society at large. This also means that we have huge responsibilities to make DiGRA Japan a success.
Along with the news of DiGRA Japan, the news of DiGRA 2007 was announced and circulated through the Japanese mass media. Such media attention is important for us organizers because soon we need to start raising funds to support DiGRA 2007. Already, an organization linked to the Tokyo Metropolitan government has offered some support (so at least you will get at least free maps and brochures of To

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Some developments in DiGRA Japan (2)

As in previous entries, DiGRA Japan, the host organization of DiGRA 2007, has been established on April 28, and its website is up and running (although all in English). These days, we have been busy to prepare its first general assembly. This will be an important opportunity to announce DiGRA 2007 to potential Japanese participants. We have released information of the assembly to both general and game related media, and, in spite of the bad timing (the PS3 announcements and E3), we have been attracting fair amount of interests. At least two major game related news websites and one newspaper have reported on this event. Already more than eighty people have registered to attend the first assembly, and it is likely we have to stop registration because of the limited space (the room we prepared can only accommodate 120 people).

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Board member benefits?

Althought I am an enthusiastic advocate of transparency and supporter of making anything "open-source," I intend to be discreet when personal information is concerned. So, I am not going to write down a list of candidates for the International Advisory Board.
In stead, I post an issue less (but not very much less) sensitive. What benefits should an International Advisory Board member should get? This needs to be made clear because we will be asking peoploe to become a member of the IAB. My answer (at this point, at least) is "virtually nothing."
True, when I was asked to be a member of the International Advisory Board of DiGRA 2005, an idea that I might at least get a waiver for the conference registration fee was not absent in my head. I didn't get it, of course, and I don't think that was necessarily bad. The members of the International Advisory Board were (and will be) mostly (myself being an exception) senior scholars and in a good position to get funding from their university. The only visible benefit I got at DiGRA 2005 was that I was invited to the VIP party. Of course, invisible benefits were far more important than some free drinks. I felt honored and delighted to work for the international community of game studies scholars. Of course, we might get enough funding to make up for registration fees of several people. But from the perspective of the conference organizers, it is not wise to make such financial commitment early on.
So, with this precedent in mind, our policy will be that members of the IAB will not be waived registration fees and will not get any financial support from the conference. Probably, we can do a VIP party at least. Also, we can certainly afford to make the color of their badges different (VIP badges?) or even provide a fast lane for their registration.
Same for reviewers. Reviewers will do more work than some of IAB members, but they will not get anything for their work. Success of an academic community can only be possible because of unappreciated hardwork of anomymous reviewers, and that is also the case with DiGRA 2007.