Call for Papers: Understanding Machinima: essays on filmmaking in virtual worlds – deadline 30 August 2010

essays on filmmaking in virtual worlds

Call for Papers

Submissions are invited for an edited book with the working title Understanding Machinima: essays on filmmaking in virtual worlds. Machinima – referring to “filmmaking within a real-time, 3D virtual environment, often using 3D video-game technologies” as well as works which use this animation technique, including videos recorded in computer games or virtual worlds (see also – is challenging the notion of the moving image in numerous media contexts, such as video games, animation, digital cinema and virtual worlds. Machinima’s increasingly dynamic use and construction of images from virtual worlds – appropriated, imported, worked over, re?negotiated, re-configured, re?composed – not only confronts the conception and ontology of the recorded moving image, but also blurs the boundaries between contemporary media forms, definitions and aesthetics, converging filmmaking, animation, virtual world and game development. Even as it poses these theoretical challenges, machinima is expanding as a practice via internet networks and fan-based communities as well as in pedagogical and marketing contexts. In these ways, machinima is also transformative, presenting alternative ways and modes of teaching and commercial promotion, in-game events and, perhaps most significantly, networking cultures and community-building within game, virtual and filmmaking worlds, among others.

Divided into these two sections – machinima (i) in theoretical analysis; and (ii) as practice – this first collection of essays seeks to explore how we can understand machinima in terms of the theoretical challenges it poses as well as its manifestations as a practice. We are primarily concerned with offering critical discussions of its history, theory, aesthetics, media form and social implications, as well as insights into its development and the promise of what it can become. How does machinima fit in the spectrum of media forms? What are the ontological differences between images from machinima and photochemical/digital filmmaking? How does machinima co-opt the affordances of the game engine to provide narrative? How may machinima, developed from the products of game and virtual world marketing, be used as an artistic tool? How is machinima self-reflexive, if at all, of the virtual environments from which they arise? What are the implications of re-deploying these media formats into alternative media forms? How does the open-source economy that currently defines much of global machinima relate it to broader cultural production generally?

In particular, we are looking for essays that address (but not limited to) the following ideas:

* History: context; definitions; culture; relationships to gaming and play; development of technology; hardware and games; archiving of play;

* Theory: image; ontology; time; space; narrative; realism; spectatorship; subjectivity; virtual camera; materiality;

* Aesthetics: poetics; play; visuality; détournement; remix; digital mashup; appropriation; recombinative narratives; audio and visual theory; spatiality; narrative architecture;

* Contemporary media contexts: comparative media; machinima vis-à-vis video games, (digital) cinema, animation, virtual worlds; the visual economy of machinima versus film

* Communities: Machinima as community-based practice and performance; user created content; online publishing; fan (fiction) communities; open source; cultural reflection

* Pedagogy: digital literacy; teaching models and practices; student-centered learning; critical making; collaborative authorship; rhetorics; problem based learning;

* Marketing: crowd sourcing; viral marketing; peer to peer sharing; commercials, trailer promotions; grass roots versus astro turf; serials and sequels.

Please submit a 300 word abstract and a short bio via e-mail to (NOT the address of the sender above) by 30 August 2010. We expect that final essays should not exceed 7,000 words and be due on 30 December 2010.

Jenna P-S. Ng
James Barrett
HUMlab, Umeå University