[NetBehaviour] Counterplay: Gaming, Cheating and Control - The Fibreculture Journal - Call For Papers

Michael Dieter mdieter at gmail.com
Sat Aug 1 07:08:59 CEST 2009

The Fibreculture Journal

The Fibreculture Journal is a peer reviewed international journal that
explores critical and speculative interventions in the debate and
discussions concerning information and communication technologies and
their policy frameworks, networked and digital media, network cultures
and their informational logic, new media forms and their deployment,
and the possibilities of socio-technical invention and sustainability.

Call for Papers - Counterplay: Gaming, Cheating and Control

edited by Thomas Apperley and Michael Dieter

Final date for Abstracts: August 24, 2009
Final date for Full Submissions: October 30, 2009

How are illegitimate player actions in videogames collectively
defined, negotiated or governed? How do the conflicts that emerge
around the issue of cheating complicate the idea of software
materiality as a limit for participation, or as a determining
algorithmic system of regulation? Is there a complementary notion of
fair play for legislative debates on the fair use of intellectual
property? What can an analysis of so-called community standards in
networked videogames reveal about regulatory frameworks throughout
comparable global microstructures? Such questions bring to light how
gaming communities are routinely forced to settle the difference
between what a videogame as a designed object might allow and what
players, designers and corporate owners consider to be appropriate. An
exploration of these controversies can provide crucial insights into
how modes of governance are elaborated in highly distributed
socio-technological systems and, therefore, hold relevance for a
broader understanding of the improvised political gestures that
currently define network societies.

In this special issue of Fibreculture Journal, we invite contributions
on counterplay: a concept proposed to investigate the controversies
that surround certain insurgent actions or innovations in gaming
communities. From the perspective of software studies, these moments
might be considered as creative interrogations which fold the material
excesses of digital systems back into play in order to facilitate new
possibilities for action (i.e. exploits). However, counterplay
additionally suggests thinking about how this leveraging of a digital
abundance challenges the purity of gamespace by facilitating the
uneven accumulation of assets and agency. In other words, these
differences establish the potential for unfair advantage, the
consequences of which should be considered in terms of the strict
control of designers, programmers and corporations, but also highly
invested players. This is crucial for understanding the networked
contexts of contemporary new media, since distributions of agency
inevitably overflow the artificial borders of the game and are subject
to continual renegotiation as a result. The connective dynamics of
media ecologies, for instance, can be understood as providing one such
pathway for material advancement by leveraging points of difference
between systems, standards and agential flows. An example like
real-money trading (RMT) is exemplary of this situation; often a
partisan issue in online communities, recent studies have nevertheless
revealed that the legitimate economies of networked games are
dependent on these exterior exchanges of commodities. The millions of
people and dollars invested in the development and maintenance of
online communities demonstrates the high stakes of governing instances
of unruly invention, especially in their attempt to guide expressions
of counterplay in all forms toward processes of economic capture and

Counterplay, therefore, emerges from dynamics unleashed between the
intertwined qualities of the virtual and the actual, which work to
mobilize a series of subjects, objects and things toward a variety of
ends. We seek contributions that consider counterplay as a response to
these potentialities and the politics of their real outcomes,
particularly studies that provide theoretical resources for broader
discussions of governance, contestation and control in the context of
network societies. Some topics might include:

Gaming Governance
Software Materiality
Modification and Hacking
Exploits and Exploitation
Real-Money Trading
Media Ecologies
Distribution and Piracy
Political Activism
Game Art

Articles must be submitted, via email, to the editors (as below) in
full Fibreculture Journal house style.

You must first read the Guidelines for Submission at

You can access information about house style at

Please note, submissions not in house style will automatically be
returned to authors for formatting. That is, you will not be able to
have your paper considered for publication unless you have formatted
it correctly. The journal is peer reviewed and authors are expected to
take readers reports into consideration when finalising their articles
for publication. Negotiation with the editors over potential changes
is usual practice (and there is no guarantee of publication).


Thomas Apperley (ta at unimelb.edu.au)
Michael Dieter (mdieter at unimelb.edu.au)

For editorial enquiries.

More information about the NetBehaviour mailing list