Book Launch Event

As part of this year’s conference, we will be holding a special event to celebrate the hard work of our membership over the last few years. Please join us on Thursday, June 2 at 11am EDT for Q&A as well as some remarks from the authors!

This year’s roster includes:

Who Are You? Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance Platform

Alex Custodio (2020)

Two decades after its release, Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance has not only declined to disappear but has actively generated communities that continue to hack, modify, emulate, make, break, remake, redesign, trade, and play with the platform. This book traces the network of hardware and software afterlives that make up the GBA platform and shape its ongoing use. Each chapter considers a key component of this assemblage, be it hardware, software, or practice, to illuminate how the platform operates as a computational system and cultural artifact.

The cover of "Who Are You?" The artwork features three Game Boy Advances stacked atop each other, illustrated in a silk-screen style on a red background.

The GBA is neither Nintendo’s most powerful handheld nor their most popular, but it is the platform that most fundamentally embodies Nintendo’s reliance on the aesthetics and materiality of nostalgia. As a contingent assemblage of objects and practices, the GBA’s many articulations each have something to say about its history, affordances, constraints, and potential for creative expression.

Alex Custodio is an academic, author, and artist based in Tiohtià:ke (Montreal) whose research focuses on fan communities, residual videogame platforms, and the cultural techniques of hardware and software hacking. They are currently pursuing a SSHRC-funded PhD in the interdisciplinary humanities program at Concordia University where they study how users modify and repair handheld videogame platforms decades after the end of their market lifecycles. Their other ongoing research projects include cataloging the Residual Media Depot’s holdings of early home computing equipment, developing a robust metadata scheme for talking about old hardware, and documenting best practices in modding circles.Their first monograph, Who Are You? Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance Platform, is available from the MIT Press. You can find more of their work at alexcustodio.com.


LEGOified: Building Blocks as Media

Edited by Nicholas Taylor and Chris Ingram (2022)

LEGOfied: Building Blocks as Media considers the system of interlocking bricks as a materially digital medium – an operating system built on modularity, semiotic fungibility, and atomized elements (or “palpable pixels”, as Kate Maddelana says in her) through which builders can remediate a near infinite range of possibilities.

The cover of "LEGOfied." The main illustration on the cover is a cloud made out of voxels floating in the sky.

Our analysis places LEGO on parallel footing, theoretically and culturally, with other play-based media, but where much of the work on LEGO to date has focused on its transmedial reach and representational politics, our connective ethnography of LEGO artists, hobbyists, and entrepreneurs is more concerned with how the pervasive toy materially intervenes into our ongoing constructions of (among other things) gender, environmentalism, artistic practice, and theory-building. In other words, the book explores how LEGO participates in the ongoing worlding of our sociotechnical present, and how our worlds, in turn, become LEGOfied.

Nicholas Taylor is a settler Canadian currently in North Carolina, where he serves as Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at North Carolina State University. His work confronts the exclusionary politics of play-based media practices, communities, and industries. Specific interests include the gendered politics of gaming’s physical contexts, including man caves and gaming tournaments, and, of course, the media practices of artists who work with lego. He is the lead editor (with CGSA’s own Gerald Voorhees) on Masculinities in Play, the first volume on the intersections of masculinities and games. He is the current director of the interdisciplinary PhD program in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media (CRDM) at NC State, and a member of the Advisory Board for Riot Scholastic Association of America.

Chris Ingraham is an Associate Professor of Communication and Environmental Humanities at the University of Utah. His interdisciplinary teaching and research generally concern three great problems of the 21st century: the influence of digital media on culture; the crisis of public discourse; and environmental collapse. In addition to authoring Gestures of Concern (Duke UP, 2020) and co-editing LEGOfied: Building Blocks as Media (Bloomsbury, 2020), he has a forthcoming book called Rhetorical Climatology with Michigan State University Press, and is working on a short, evocative book about darkness as an elemental medium, based on his fieldwork looking for global warming in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, the northernmost settlement on earth.


Japanese Role-playing Games: Genre, Representation, and Liminality in the JRPG 

Edited by Rachael Hutchinson and Jérémie Pelletier-Gagnon (2022)

Japanese Role-playing Games: Genre, Representation, and Liminality in the JRPG examines the origins, boundaries, and transnational effects of the genre, addressing significant formal elements as well as narrative themes, character construction, and player involvement. Contributors from Japan, Europe, North America, and Australia employ a variety of theoretical approaches to analyze popular game series and individual titles, introducing an English-speaking audience to Japanese video game scholarship while also extending postcolonial and philosophical readings to the Japanese game text.

The cover to "Japanese Role-playing Games." The text is overlaid atop a fantasy airship, which is essentially a wooden boat with propellers and balloons attached to it.

In a three-pronged approach, the collection uses these analyses to look at genre, representation, and liminality, engaging with a multitude of concepts including stereotypes, intersectionality, and the political and social effects of JRPGs on players and industry conventions. Broadly, this collection considers JRPGs as networked systems, including evolved iterations of MMORPGs and card collecting “social games” for mobile devices. Scholars of media studies, game studies, Asian studies, and Japanese culture will find this book particularly useful.

Contributors: Fanny Barnabé (Epitech); Nökkvi Jarl Bjarnason (University of Iceland); Joleen Blom (Tampere University); Andrew Campana (Cornell University); William Huber (Abertay University); Daniel Johnson; Yuhsuke Koyama (Shibaura Institute of Technology); Loïc Mineau-Murray (Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue); Frank Mondelli (Stanford University); Daichi Nakagawa (PLANETS); Douglas Schules (Rikkyo University) and Ben Whaley (University of Calgary)

Rachael Hutchinson is Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Delaware, where she teaches Japanese language and culture, including videogames. She has published widely on representation and identity in Japanese narrative texts, from the novels of Nagai Kafu to the manga of Tezuka Osamu, the films of Kurosawa Akira to the videogames of Kojima Hideo. Her work on games appears in the journals Game Studies, Games and Culture, Japanese Studies, and NMEDIAC: Journal of New Media and Culture, as well as the books Gaming Representation: Race, Gender and Sexuality in Video Games, (ed. Malkowski and Russworm), Introduction to Japanese Pop Culture (ed. Freedman and Slade) and Transnational Contexts of Culture, Gender, Class, and Colonialism in Play (ed. Pulos and Lee). Her book Japanese Culture through Videogames (Routledge 2019) was featured on the podcasts ‘Meiji at 150’ and ‘Japan Station.’ She is currently co-editing The Handbook of Japanese Games and Gaming for Japan Documents Press.

Jérémie Pelletier-Gagnon is Assistant Professor at the Université de l’Ontario français and member of the Homo Ludens research group. His work focuses on the study of digital games from a cultural and transnational perspective with an emphasis on Japan and spatiality, as well as on the application of natural language processing and AI-assisted text analysis methodologies in game studies. He published in The Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds and Space and Culture as well as co-edited special issues on Japanese game culture for Kinephanos and the Journal of the Japanese Association for Digital Humanities. He serves as associate editor for the Replaying Japan Journal and is currently preparing an upcoming monograph on space and play in Japanese videogame arcades (Routledge 2023). <www.jeremiepgagnon.net> @JeremiePGagnon


Digital Playgrounds: The Hidden Politics of Children’s Online Play Spaces, Virtual Worlds, and Connected Games 

Sara M. Grimes (2021)

Digital Playgrounds explores the key developments, trends, debates, and controversies that have shaped children’s commercial digital play spaces over the past two decades. It argues that children’s online playgrounds, virtual worlds, and connected games are much more than mere sources of fun and diversion – they serve as the sites of complex negotiations of power between children, parents, developers, politicians, and other actors with a stake in determining what, how, and where children’s play unfolds. 

The cover to "Digital Playgrounds." The main image is an isometric depiction of a children's playground.

Through an innovative, transdisciplinary framework combining science and technology studies, critical communication studies, and children’s cultural studies, Digital Playgrounds focuses on the contents and contexts of actual technological artefacts as a necessary entry point for understanding the meanings and politics of children’s digital play. The discussion draws on several research studies on a wide range of digital playgrounds designed and marketed to children aged six to twelve years.

Digital Playgrounds lays the groundwork for a critical reconsideration of how existing approaches might be used in the development of new regulation, as well as best practices for the industries involved in making children’s digital play spaces. In so doing, it argues that children’s online play spaces be reimagined as a crucial new form of public sphere in which children’s rights and digital citizenship must be prioritized


Open World Empire: Race, Erotics, and the Global Rise of Video Games

Christopher B. Patterson (2020)

Open World Empire asks how we can read the global reach of video games that do not appear ideological or nationalistic, yet whose very existence has been conditioned upon the spread of militarized technology, the exploitation of already-existing labor and racial hierarchies in their manufacture, and the utopian promises of digital technology. Like literature and film before it, video games have become the main artistic expression of empire today, and thus form an understanding for how war and imperial violence proceed under the signs of openness, transparency, and digital utopia. To understand games as such, this book discusses games as Asian-inflected commodities, with its hardware assembled in Asia, its most talented esports players of Asian origin, and most of its genres formed by Asian companies (Nintendo, Sony, Sega). Games draw on established discourses of Asia to provide an “Asiatic” space, a playful sphere of racial otherness that straddles notions of the queer, the exotic, the bizarre, and the erotic.

Christopher B. Patterson (Ph.D., U of Washington) is an Assistant Professor of The Social Justice Institute at The University of British Columbia. His first book, Transitive Cultures: Anglophone Literature of the Transpacific (Rutgers University Press, 2018), won the American Studies Association’s 2020 Shelley Fisher Fishkin Prize for International Scholarship in Transnational American Studies. His latest book, Open World Empire: Race, Erotics, and the Global Rise of Video Games (New York University Press, 2020) was a runner-up for both the 2020 Speculative Fictions and Cultures of Science Book Award, and the 2021 John Hope Franklin Publication Prize of the American Studies Association. He writes fiction under his matrilineal name, Kawika Guillermo, and his debut novel, Stamped: an anti-travel novel (2018), won the 2020 Association for Asian American Studies Book Award for Creative Prose, while his follow-up speculative fiction novel, All Flowers Bloom (2020), won the 2021 Reviewers Choice Gold Award for Best General Fiction/Novel.