Breaking the Magic Circle

Game Research Lab Spring Seminar 2008 Tampere Finland 10-11 April

Call for papers

*Breaking the Magic Circle*

Call for Papers: Game Studies Seminar, Tampere 10-11 April, 2008

One of the classic theories of games and play was presented by Johan Huizinga in his work Homo Ludens (orig. from 1938). Huizinga wrote about the free and voluntary nature of play, how it is “an activity connected with no material interest” and how it “proceeds within its own proper boundaries of time and space”, involving and absorbing players utterly into a separate world set off from the “ordinary” life, while being created and maintained by communities of players.

Huizinga’s view has become widely known within contemporary game studies, and it is often referred as the ‘Magic Circle’ view on games and play. This concept has also been widely criticised, as it has become increasingly obvious how various “games external” areas play an important role in digital play, and also because digital games have become more widely enmeshed with and applied into various economical, educational and other social and cultural processes and uses.

“Breaking the Magic Circle” seminar invites presentations from multiple points of view, including theoretical as well as empirically based studies into that question or expand existing conceptions regarding digital games and play.

Particular fields of study might include, but are not limited to:

  • pervasive, mobile or location based gaming,
  • alternate reality gaming
  • casual, non-immersive or coincidental forms of play,
  • professional gaming,
  • money gaming, betting and gambling within digital games and play.

The seminar is fourth in the annual series of game studies working paper seminars organised by the Games Research Lab in the University of Tampere. Due to the work-in-progress emphasis, we strongly encourage submitting late breaking results, working papers and/or submissions from graduate students. Early considerations from projects currently in progress are most welcome, as the purpose of the seminar is to have peer-to-peer discussions and thereby provide support in refining and improving research work in this area. After the seminar, separate consideration will be given to various options of publishing the seminar papers. The papers to be presented will be chosen based on abstract review. Full papers are distributed prior the event to all participants, in order to facilitate discussion.

The two-day event consists of themed sessions that aim to introduce current research projects and discuss ongoing work in studies of games, play and their relation to surrounding phenomena. The seminar will be chaired by professor Frans Mäyrä (Hypermedia Laboratory, University of Tampere).

Paper commentators include researchers Markus Montola, Aki Järvinen and Simon Niedenthal, associate professor of interaction design. The seminar will be held in Tampere, Finland and will be free of charge; the number of participants will be restricted.

Important Dates

  • Abstract Deadline: January 15, 2008
  • Notification of Acceptance: January 30, 2008
  • Full Paper deadline: March 27, 2007
  • Seminar dates: April 10-11, 2007

Submission Guidelines


Abstract submissions should include maximum of 1.000 words (excluding references). Abstracts should be send to info-gamestudies{at} as plain text only (no attachments).

Full seminar papers: 

Guidelines for submitting a full seminar paper will be provided with the notification of acceptance. Our aim is that everyone participating has been able to read materials submitted to the seminar, therefore the maximum length for a full paper is set to 6.000 words (excluding references).


Note also that the presentations held at the seminar should also encourage discussion, instead of only repeating the information presented in the papers. Tentatively, every paper will be presented for 10 minutes and discussed for 20 minutes.


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