Call for Abstracts 2021


Magic, while usually considered not entirely real, affects our lives in many ways. It can be a soothing fantasy, a useful and potent metaphor, or at the very least a void we desire to be filled, the universal placeholder for all the voids that make up the human condition. So we chase those magic moments and wait to feel the magic in the air; we aspire to create at least a modicum of magic in our crafts, and when we are at the end of our wits and abilities, more often than we’d like to admit, we give into a little bit of magical thinking.  

Magic in its most general form (as acknowledged by the ancient tomes of Merriam-Webster) is “a power that allows people […]to do impossible things”. It is the absolute (and thereby almost divine) ability to create, sometimes counter-intuitive, sometimes seemingly more intuitive than the strict, mechanical and demanding workings of the natural world.  Magic promises freedom from the laws of physics and society, it represents power through knowledge and the skill to apply this knowledge to the world.  

But by the same account, Magic is also “the art of producing illusions by sleight of hand”: it is the dazzler’s deceit, the tricks played on our mind (and our mind playing tricks), the deceptive gleam that diverts our gaze from the truth. Magic in this sense is something we need to beware of, lest it make fools of us. But it can also be something quite liberating, an escape from the cold hard truths of our daily routines, the welcome fantasy that things may, for a while, be a little more interesting than they usually appear.  

Between these two understandings of Magic, it quickly becomes clear that there is more than one connection between Magic and Games. In making games, we also exert the power to create otherwise impossible worlds; in playing games, we make experiences or gain abilities that are inaccessible in the real world (especially in times of a pandemic, when even access to the mundane aspects of the real world is often denied); in playing together, we make connections on a level that we can hardly achieve in daily live; when it comes to Magic itself, it is rarely so tangible as when represented in games; and finally, there is Johan Huizinga and his Magic Circle – the gift that almost magically keeps on giving by providing generations of game scholars with cause for debate and controversy, ranging from discussions of its general usefulness to the burning of argumentative strawmen and the not so basic question why Huizinga chose to put his concept in the context of Magic in the first place.   

Hence, the 15th Vienna Games Conference – FROG 2021 welcomes submissions that address „The Magic of Games” in its many forms and invites game scholars and creators from around the globe to discuss the ways in which their work is infused by a kind of magic. Furthermore, we welcome submissions to the planned anthology “THE MAGIC OF GAMES”. 

Possible topics include, but are not limited to: 

  • The Magic of Creating through Games: 
    how we harness the power of game design to create impossible worlds, to examine new ideas, to test new solutions and to conquer otherwise mortifying challenges of life; but also how this power can be used to manipulate and to make false arguments deceptively convincing (not only, but also in regard to COVID-19) 
  • The Magic of Immersion in Games:  
    how we use games to escape the hardships of life, how the joy of suspending disbelief and creating belief in games can give meaning not only to our play, but to the rest of our lives; but also how this immersion may keep us from seeing beyond the game where we should (and has COVID-19 changed our desire, ability and necessity to immerse in virtual worlds?) 
  • The Magic of Connecting through Games:  
    how games enable us to connect to each other, drawing on technologies of virtual presence, but infusing these technologies with experiences that go far beyond online meetings and conversations; how they put us in artificial situations that let us grow beyond our everyday personas and at the same time connect to each other on a level much more personal than most real-life encounters can provide 
  • Representations of Magic in Games: 
    how (and why) magic is represented in games as a subject, as a narrative device, as a game mechanic and as a metaphor; what its representations tell us about our real-life desires and perceived limitations; how it can be used to balance out the simple brutality of physical strength, but also how it is idealized and how its representations naturalize the superiority of the few, the (super)natural order of power and the false equivalence of spirituality and science 
  • Magic Circles in Game Studies:  
    how Huizinga’s Magic Circle concept is at the same time highly regarded and ridiculed in today’s game studies discourse; why and in what sense it may be about magic (and not simply about delineations); how the concept seems to oscillate between dusty relic and constantly re-discovered novelty; how and why (and if!) the game studies discourse itself seems to go back and forth in circles when it comes to its basic theoretical concepts; and what other historical and possibly outdates concepts have the games discourse under their spell today (and whether this spell can or should be broken) 

FROG – Future and Reality of Gaming 2021 
15th Vienna Games Conference 
Saturday, November, 27th 2021 
Location: Online, via Zoom 

Contributions to FROG 2021 can be submitted in the following formats: 

  • Option 1: talk (20 min presentation + 10 minutes Q&A) 
  • Option 2: poster presentation (5 min presentation, accompanying a poster on screen) 

Please submit your abstract here by filling out the form | Submission Deadline: 06.11.2021 

Submission includes: 

  • title of your presentation 
  • short abstract (200 – 350 words) 
  • short bio (max 100 words) and photo of the author 

Please indicate in the form if you are interested in writing an article for the planned anthology “THE MAGIC OF GAMES”. Deadline for submission of short abstracts for the anthology: 31.01.2022 | Submission of final articles: 15.04.2022 | Book release: Autumn 2022 

Conference language: English

There are no registration fees for submitters as well as no participation fees for attendees.

We are looking forward to your submission!