In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Introduction to the Game Studies Issue: A Metagame
  • Edmond Y. Chang and Ashlee Bird, Themed Issue Editors

As we have argued elsewhere, video games are here, video games are everywhere; they are in our homes, in our workplaces, in our classrooms, in our politics, and in our everyday lives.1 And now, video game studies is here and everywhere and crosses and connects nearly every theory, discipline, and practice, academic and otherwise. The essays gathered here represent the continued and growing interest— from academia, publishing, industry, and gaming communities—in games critique and game studies. We are honored to be the first themed issue on game studies in the long, storied history of Configurations. Our first goal is to insist that game studies is interdisciplinary, collaborative, intersectional, even convivial. To this end, essays are often co-authored and contribute to multiple fields, including genre studies, disability studies, philosophy, political economy, popular culture studies, cybernetics, simulation studies, environmental studies, and science and technology studies. And they are in conversations with issues of identity, embodiment, stereotypes, autotheory, rules, interfaces, modeling, metagaming, neurodivergence, nationality, wholesomeness, labor, and attention.

This themed issue also represents a subset of the community of game scholars, artists, designers, and players that found one another at the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (SLSA) annual meetings [End Page 73] to forge what would become the conference’s collaborative “game studies stream.” Game studies research and presentations have become a staple at SLSA, including streams at the most recent (2023) conference. But they began in 2011 with the first stream, an interdisciplinary series of panels, organized then by Patrick Jagoda, Stephanie Boluk, Patrick LeMieux, and others, which ran from 2011 to 2013, and was resuscitated in 2017 by us alongside Alenda Chang, Timothy Welsh, and others.2 In fact, we are excited to pair this themed issue with the collaborative essay “Playing at SLSA: A Game Studies Stream Retrospective,” which was published last year as part of the thirtieth anniversary celebration of Configurations. Originally, “Playing at SLSA” was to be the introduction to this themed issue, but we are honored to be able to hold space in two ways in the journal and in the community. According to this retrospective essay, the “serendipitous connections and less formal economies of the stream would forge conversations, collaborations, mentorships, and friendships that well exceed the conference and organization . . . [the retrospective] collects together first-hand accounts, responses, and meditations from past and present stream participants to help situate game studies in the history of SLSA, to reflect on the streams’ reach and interdisciplinary impacts, and to celebrate an ever-growing community of scholars, teachers, artists, and players that found a ‘home’ at SLSA.”3 Many of those people and perspectives are included in this themed issue, but we also strove to foreground new work, new interventions, and especially emerging voices in game studies.

We believe an investment in game studies is critically needed at SLSA and beyond, given the ubiquity of game play, game spaces, game aesthetics, ludic norms, gamic policies, and gamification in our world. The writers and creators represented here urge us to recognize that the focus should “be on the need for critical interventions and medium-specific” theories, pedagogies, and designs “to address the fact that games are embedded in the fabric of everyday life and more importantly embedded with the norms, values, promises, and problems of the culture at large.”4 Game studies scholars in this issue value the forms and functions of worldbuilding, world changing, even world saving. They also recognize the imperative to think and work interdisciplinarily, [End Page 74] interculturally, and intertextually to develop not only imaginative and innovative games scholarship but also more diverse and inclusive citational, pedagogical, design, and gaming practices.

Peter McDonald, Chris Carloy, and Julianne Grasso open the issue with their collaborative conversation “After the Jump: An SLSA Exchange on Platforming Games,” which draws on their personal, academic, and theoretical understandings of play, nostalgia,5 game genres, music,6 pleasure, and fun; games are “an invitation to endless experimentation that transforms every player into a researcher.”7 Next, Doug Stark’s “Games as Epistemic Mediators” reimagines and reworks “gamification” as knowledge making...