Digital Heroisms

Digital Heroisms
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From Fri 5 June 2020 to Sat 6 June 2020
From Friday 5 June 2020 to Saturday 6 June 2020
9:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Digital Heroisms (5th June, 2020)

In partnership with the University of Glasgow’s Games and Gaming Lab (GGlab)

“The power of the fantasy increases if it offers us something genuinely new and compelling. The limitations of our own corporeality can be abolished or the ground rules changed to give us new experiences.”

Kathryn Hume, Fantasy and Mimesis

Where readers once understood heroism through a Gilgamesh, a Frodo or a Katniss, the digital subject can now figure heroism through actions, decisions and events that are in many ways their own. Video gaming has an especial talent for creating heroes that are lived-through by their users, whether this is via the experience of leading characters such as Link through the temples of Hyrule; via choice-based play utilising avatars such as Frisk of Undertale fame; or by creating entirely unique personas in role play games such as Dragon Age. In a contemporary moment enabled and mediated by a multiplicity of digital spaces, the way we conceptualize heroism will be both enabled and contaminated by games, the virtual, and ever-increasing screentime. The realm of the digital, functioning as a receptacle of imagination can equip players with the means to express the self. Digital spaces can serve as a conduit for both ludic and fantastical impulses. Heroic research must adapt to this interactive environment – its places, its communities, its values – if it is to keep a handle on the heroic constellation formed of informatic, computational and digital materials.

Fantasy scholars and authors alike have sought to define the Fantasy genre. Whether that be as experienced by characters as ‘hesitation’ (Todorov, 1970), a loose genre that can be described as a ‘fuzzy set’ (Attebery, 1992), or as being ‘the mirror of mimetic literature and its inner soul’ (Mendlesohn, 2008), digital iterations of fantasy have enhanced and extended our capability to experience the immersion of fantastic worlds. Though Fantasy video games may pay tribute to the literature from which it sprang, each form with its differing modes of performance allows the Fantastic an opportunity be presented in all of its heterogeneity; players are given the opportunity to experience a new kind of protagonism, a heroism that enables the player to effect and interact with fantasy narratives. The interactivity offered by video games can enable players to experience the self in new ways, whether that be through choice-based narratives, the player-led exploration of a Walking-Simulator or via avatars which enable players to live the ‘posthuman fantasy of extending the human subject beyond itself’ (Boulter, 2015) and craft fantasy personas.

The symposium will be seeking submissions for 15 min papers accompanying creative workshops (1 hour) on themes such as, but not limited to, the following topics:

Defining/constructing digital heroism

The converging interests of fantasy and digital heroism

Digital and fantastic video game environments and their effect on heroism

Fantasy video games and avatar creation

Fantastic VR experiences, the self, and digital heroism

The social/theoretical implications of digital iterations of fantasy

Considerations of digital spaces as fantastic ones

Heroic fantasy video game character(istics)

Considerations of what heroism means in the digital age

Problems with digital heroism

Digital heroism examined through:

Convergence culture

Participatory culture



Queer Studies

Disability Studies


Digital Heroisms will run with the view to contributing a special issue to the student video game journal Press Start. We encourage speakers to submit their drafted proposal to the organising committee after the conference (date TBD). Please see the Press Start website for the submission guidelines and style guide.

Please submit your presentations/workshops as a 250 word abstract and 100 word bio to before May 5th.

Digital Heroisms is unfortunately unable to contribute towards its speakers’ travel or accommodation.

We look forward to receiving your contributions to Digital Heroisms!


Organising Committee:

Monica Vazquez (University of Glasgow)

Gabe Cohen (University of Glasgow)

Francis Butterworth-Parr (University of Glasgow)

FB: Digital Heroism

Twitter: @DigitalHeroisms


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