The Call for papers for the European Sociological Association 2019 conference in Manchester includes a Research Stream on ‘Gaming at the Boundaries’:

Gaming at the Boundaries: Imagining Inclusive Futures

Despite the cliché that digital games are played almost exclusively by young, white, cisgendered, heterosexual men, gaming is now more diverse than ever. Some elements of this diversity has seen extensive study, such as gender, whilst others such as age or class have been comparatively overlooked. For this stream, participants are invited to submit papers that consider diversity and cultural change within the production and consumption of digital games. Past, present and future visions of digital gaming affect how social inclusion is viewed by players, developers and policy makers. We seek papers that interrogate those who exist at the ‘boundaries’ of games culture, whether as a matter of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality and/or class, to make visible the ‘barriers’ but also examples of ‘belonging’ that emerge through digital gameplay.

As such, this stream responds to the identity crisis (or crises) materializing within games culture. Phenomena such as GamerGate, the rise of live streaming on, and the growth of “independent” games that tackle serious real-world issues, all push us to reconsider who gamers are, and who they might be. As stereotypes of ‘the gamer’ breakdown to reflect the appeal of digital games across society, labels of ‘addiction’ and ‘gambling’ are in danger of stigmatizing play, and casting players as pathological subjects. We invite papers that contest these barriers and challenge the social construction of gaming as a ‘disorder’. What alternative futures are possible? How do we confront these controversies? Why must inclusivity be a core part of our imaginings?

Coordinators: Thomas Brock, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, t.brock[at]; Aphra Kerr, Maynooth University, Ireland, aphra.kerr[at]; Mark R Johnson, University of Alberta, Canada, markrjohnsongames[at]; Paolo Ruffino, University of Lincoln, UK, pruffino[at]


For more details of the conference visit the ESA website.