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Spelunking 2020: Games, Cultures, Societies

A BSA Postgraduate Forum Regional Event

22 July 2020
University of York, UK (Room ENV/005)

About the Event

In her recent monograph Playing with Feelings (2018), Aubrey Anable contends that games researchers should become lost and disorientated in games in order to reach deeper critical insights, an action which she refers to as spelunking.

Gaming is a diverse term used to encapsulate a variety of experiences: analog or digital; singular or multiplayer; simple or complex; equitable or contentious; long or short; professional or amateur; all consuming or just engaged with in short bursts. In the context of this symposium we engage with the term ‘gaming’ at its broadest experiential understanding.

Pockets of sociological enquiry have interacted with games including Gary Alan Fine’s seminal work on frame analysis in Shared Fantasy (1983). More recently, Garry Crawford’s (2012) work on gamer identities, or Daniel Muriel and Crawford’s recent volume Video Games as Culture (2018) have demonstrated the need for further considered sociological analysis on gaming and gaming culture. As such, it becomes apparent that there is an urgent need to address this vibrant yet underdeveloped area of research. Especially when considering that by 2020, according to a report published by UKIE (2018, 33), that the ‘total UK games revenue is expected to overtake total spending on books.’

Call for Papers

Moving into a new decade, this symposium aims to consider the variety of forms in which games impact on both culture and society, and the diverse narratives which they create, develop and propagate. Alongside a keynote address from Dr Jo Twist (UKIE), we welcome abstracts from members of any discipline which look to engage in critical enquiry of games, gamers and their culture, based on themes including:

  • Games industries
  • Value of gaming in society
  • Gaming as labour
  • Critical readings of games
  • Histories of gaming
  • Studies of gamers
  • Theoretical approaches
  • Pedagogy and gaming
  • Economies of play/games
  • Social stratification and games
  • Women, trans and non-binary identities
  • LGBTQ identities in gaming
  • Mobile gaming
  • Analog gaming
  • Live Action Roleplay Gaming

Abstract Submission

Abstracts of no longer than 200 words, accompanied by a 50-word biography, should be submitted to Matt Coward by no later than 31 March 2020. Accepted papers will be 20 minutes in length, with an additional ten minutes allotted for Q&A.


Registration opens at 9:00am and the event will begin at 9:30am. Close will be between 17:00-18:00 (TBC).

Department of Environment and Geography
Wentworth Way
University of York
YO10 5NG 

This event is supported by the British Sociological Association’s Postgraduate Forum Regional Day Event Fund with assistance from DaCNet.