The second issue of Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC) has just been released! The March 15, 2009, special issue, entitled “Games as Transformative Works,” is edited by Rebecca Carlson and combines TWC’s general interest in fan works and fan cultures with a focus on games. Anthropology is the issue’s dominant disciplinary approach, but literary and cultural studies also frame the discussion. Although several essays address the role of production, the voices of the fans and the gamers themselves remain ever important.
The Praxis articles address many of the issues that surround computer games: editor Rebecca Carlson, for example, studies the complex position of gaming journalists, who are simultaneously fans and advertisers; Casey O’Donnell looks at the ambiguous role of game producers; and Robertson Allen’s study of the use of games in Army recruiting similarly complicates the social role of games and their real life effects. Three other Praxis essays focus on particular games and the communities surrounding them: World of Warcraft (Mark Chen), Kingly Quest (Anastasia Marie Salter), and tabletop role-playing game Exalted (Michael Robert Underwood). Kevin Driscoll and Joshua Diaz focus on fan creativity in their introduction to and explanation of chiptunes.
The Symposium section looks back and forward: pieces include Will Brooker’s recollection of early computer games of the 1980s and what specific effects these games had on a particular generation; Thien-bao Thuc Phi’s powerful analysis and personal response to the depiction of Asians in computer games; and Braxton Soderman’s meditation on fan labor and fan activities in various online computer games. Several essays focus directly on fan responses and productions, such as Rebecca Bryant’s account of the way players have rejected and circumvented recent Dungeons & Dragons updates; Amanda Odom’s look at the sensory experiences of live-action role playing; Joe Bisz’s description of player productivity in card collecting; and Julia Beck and Frauke Herrling’s provocative suggestion that reads role-playing game characters through the lens of fan fiction criticism.
The issue also features interviews with Paul Marino, cofounder and executive producer of Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences (AMAS); Doris Rusch, gaming scholar and video game designer; business professor Tony Driscoll; and Diane E. Levin, professor of early childhood education.
Check out the entire Table of Contents here.
The third issue of TWC will feature more general submissions and is scheduled for release on September 15, 2009. No. 4 is slated to be a special issue on the WB television show Supernatural, “Saving People, Hunting Things,” guest edited by Catherine Tosenberger, and will appear on March 15, 2010 (call for papers available here). TWC has also just issued a call for papers for a special historical issue, “Fan Works and Fan Communities in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” slated for spring 2011, guest edited by Nancy Reagin and Anne Rubenstein (call for papers available here).