Diverse and Inclusive Design:
Making Games for and about Everyone
Proposals Due November 1, 2019
Promoting diversity and inclusivity in games is often met with harassment from those aiming to preserve game culture’s perceived exclusivity. The harassment of already marginalized players, developers, researchers, and journalists continues to make work and play in games risky, especially for those hoping to dismantle systems of oppression in and around the medium. In response to these antagonistic practices, game studies scholars have repeatedly shown that the unique, participatory quality of games can simulate alternative perspectives, challenge the status quo, and support social justice (Shaw 2015, Mukherjee 2017, Murray 2018, Isbister 2018). As ADL fellow Karen Schrier writes, “[Games] can enable players to experiment with their own or other’s identities, they can enable empathetic interactions with other players, and they can immerse players in new worlds, systems, and mindsets” (2019). Numerous game designers have likewise recognized the radical potential of games to challenge player assumptions, presenting an increasingly greater depth of lived and emotional experiences that can foster empathy and inclusivity across a wide range of titles including Gone Home, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Life is Strange, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Virginia, and many more.
Inspired by scholarship and games that demonstrate the medium’s possibilities, our next volume of OneShot invites proposals that engage with how different forms of critical play (role-play, social play, etc.) and designed elements of games (world-building, storytelling, interface, art style, sound design, rules, mechanics) can encourage players to consider their own and others’ identity politics in rhetorically-situated contexts. Proposals may consider any of the following questions:
- How can designers promote more inclusive spaces, both in and out of games?
- How can designers create games with accessibility in mind?
- How can games represent and enact meaningful diversity?
- How can games explore or enact social justice?
- How can games encourage informed civic engagement?
- How can games challenge, resist, and critique normative narratives and expectations?
- How can games support education and learning in college classrooms?
- What marginalized identities, communities, and discourses can games include?
- What cultural rhetorics are at play in designing games?
Proposals should include a description of the game’s design and an outline of the critical essay that will accompany it. Essays may use a text or video format and should discuss the theoretical underpinnings of the game, its audience and context, and the game design process. Accepted authors will develop the game and essay over the following months through OneShot’s alpha and beta playtesting peer review process with a release date set for late summer 2020.
Submissions should not exceed 750 words and are due November 1, 2019 via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.