The symposium will explore what is means to undertake interdisciplinary or ‘indisciplinary’ research into digital play. More than this, it aims to showcase the range of research into digital play already underway at King’s and foster cross-departmental collaboration by bringing together staff and PhD students from departments such as the Digital Humanities, English, Culture, Media & Creative Industries, War Studies and Psychology. It will also build connections with two other institutions that have strong international reputations in the area of game studies, the IT University of Copenhagen and Abertay University. There will also be an international mix of participants.

We will adopt an experimental methodology, departing from the standard conference format of presented papers. The symposium will be structured around a series of ‘provocations’ steered by a list of selected participants (many from King’s, ITU, and Abertay), which will be tailored to elicit debate and catalyse collaborations. The provocations will consist of a few contentious claims that summarise the debate in an area of enquiry relevant to digital play, and which may be responded to from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The participants in each ‘provocation’ will give very short position pieces of up to five minutes in response to the provocation, with the rest of the time being used in discussion with other selected participants and with attendees. Through this format, we aim to encourage focused explorations into areas of interest that reveal fundamental commonalities and differences between the various approaches of the selected participants and the attendees.

The symposium will feature two keynote speakers. Espen Aarseth is the Head of Research at the Center for Computer Games Research at the IT University of Copenhagen. He is also director for the Games Program there, and has visited the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s in 2018 to understand potential for collaborations. The second keynote, William Huber, is President of the Digital Games Research Association (2016-present), and Head of the Centre for Excellence in Game Education at Abertay University.



9:15-9:45 Registration

9:45-10:00 Welcome

10:00-10:45 Keynote 1: William Huber: title tbc

11:00-12:00 Contemporary forms and rhetorics of play following digitisation

12:00-13:00 Lunch

13:00-14:00 Habit and practice in digital play

14:00-14:30 Break 1

14:30-15:30 Gameplay and life writing/biography

15:30-16:00 Break 2

16:00-17:00 Ecologies of play and computer games

17:00-17:45 Keynote 2: Espen Aarseth: Post-game studies – towards a philology of the ephemeral

17:45-18:00 Closing statements


The organising committee consists of: Feng Zhu (Digital Humanities), Rob Gallagher (English), Conor McKeown (Digital Humanities), Stephanie Janes (Culture, Media & Creative Industries), Mercedes Bunz (Digital Humanities), and Jonathan Gray (Digital Humanities).

If you would like to register your attendance, please contact Feng Zhu (feng.zhu@kcl.ac.uk) or Rob Gallagher (robert.gallagher@kcl.ac.uk). Please note that there are only an extremely limited number of places remaining.

This symposium is funded by both the King’s Arts and Humanities Conference Support Fund and the Department of Digital Humanities Impact Fund.

Image: Conor McKeown



Date and time

Fri, 21 June 2019
9:45 – 18:00 BST


King’s College London
Edmund Safra Lecture Theatre
London WC2R 2LS


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