Ludic Violence and Playful Control

The multidisciplinary journal “CROSSROADS” (“ПЕРЕКРЁСТКИ” ) published by the European Humanities University announces the call for papers for the special issue on Game Studies. More specifically, the issue will be dedicated to social and cultural effects of control (or lack thereof) and violence in games.

How is control executed in playful forms? What forms of violence emerge when the game is taking control over the player? Are non-violent games even possible? Violent games are not just misunderstood — they might be able to reach beyond understandable in humans. Ludic mediums and interfaces continue to challenge our ideas of power and control, and the radical gamer theory states that digitalization is violence done to reality, if there is one.

We invite papers that focus on digital and physical games as their main object of academic inquiry. Not limiting the scope to purist game studies, we hope to see more contributions from media studies, cultural studies, sociology, philosophy and other related disciplines. 

We encourage authors to submit articles on following topics.

  • Technologies of control in games and beyond;
  • Ludic violence: a carnival, a ritual, a call to action?
  • Exploitative game design and its moral implications;
  • Gaming beyond control: addiction and digital gambling;
  • The Player is absent: non-human and post-human agency in games,
  • The many gender troubles of video game cultures;
  • The Gamer Theory: when reality is a game arena, and more.

Many of these topics have been discussed at workshops Games and Gender, Games and Violence and the conference Games against Players organized by the European Humanities University and the game research community  Games & Scholars. Prospective authors are encouraged to check the agendas to get a better understanding of the work already done.

The first deadline for submissions is November 15, 2019.

We consider original articles (up to 40 000 characters), reviews (up to 20 000 characters) and authorized translations. This special issue accepts articles in English and Russian languages. All articles will be subjected to double blind peer review (and violent editing if needed).

Full guidelines for Crossroads

Original articles and reviews should be e-mailed to 

Feel free to contact Viktoriya Kanstantsiuk (Executive Secretary) for more inquiries on the journal:

The Committee will answer any other game- and/or violence-related questions you may have at

Submit and prosper!


  1. Condis, Megan. Gaming Masculinity: Trolls, Fake Geeks, and the Gendered Battle for Online Culture. Fandom & Cuture. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2018.
  2. Mitchell, Liam. Ludopolitics: Videogames Against Control. Zero Books, 2018.
  3. Schott, Gareth. Violent Games: Rules, Realism and Effect. Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2016.
  4. Sicart, Miguel. The Ethics of Computer Games. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2009.
  5. Wark, McKenzie. Gamer Theory. Harvard University Press, 2007. 

Games against Players: the Conference Program

Day 1

Sunday, April 14

  • Language of the day: Russian
  • Time: 12:00 — 18:00
  • Location: Media Center of European Humanities University (located in the building of Lithuanian National Radio and Television), S. Konarskio street. 49
  • Google Maps:

12:00 — 12:15 Introduction

Section 1. Deconstructing Game Cultures

12:15 —13:00 Keynote: Konstantin Ocheretyany. Why Should We Love Games Which Hate Us?

13:00 — 13:30 Vladimir Ilin. Instability of Systems as a Determining Factor in Relationships between Players and Developers

13:30 — 14:00 Denis Artamonov & Sofia Tikhonova. Indie Games about Medieval Ages: Aesthetics of Historyhacking 

14:30 —15:00 Coffee Break

Section 2. Psychoanalysis of Video Games

15:00 —15:30 Viktoriya Kanstantsiuk. Invisible Violence: Tyranny of Infinity and Enjoyment in Computer Games

15:30 — 16:00 Daniil Krylov. Video Games as a Means to Integrate the Shadow

16:00 — 16:30 Valentina Ilicheva. Inhumanity as an Instrument of Narrative Design

16:30 — 17:00 Coffee break

Section 3. Elements of video games architecture

16:30 — 17:00 Alina Solomonova. Representation of Distorted Consciousness: from the Narrative to Game Architectonic

17:00 — 17:30 Sergey Buglak. What Buttons Do Not Tell: Game Design Rhetoric and Systems Language

17:30 — 18:00 Alesja Serada. False Affordances in Game Studies: The Gun on the Wall Is Not What It Seems

19:00 — 22:00 Dinner

Day 2

Monday, April 15

  • Language of the day: English
  • Time: 09:00 — 18:00
  • Location: European Humanities University, Savičiaus g. 17, Room 104.
  • Google Maps:

Section 1. Politics of Game Cultures

09:00 — 09:45 Keynote: Liam Mitchell. Games against Players, Players against Games: On the Ludopolitics of Tool-Assisted Speedrunning

09:45 — 10:15 Dzmitry Boichanka. The Savage Folks: Ritual Violence as a Cool Factor of Game Cultures

10:15 — 10:45 Innocentiy Martynow. Perversive Gaming: From Psychotic Intersubjectivity to a Post-Machinic Corporeity

10:45 — 11:15 Mateusz Kłak. “I will Pass This Game Because…”- Different Types of Motivations for Different Challenges

11:15 — 11:45 Coffee Break

Section 2. Perversion and Sadism in Video Games

11:45 — 12:15 Jean Ketterling. Torture, Kink, and the Uncanny in GTA 5

12:15 — 12:45 Miruna Vozaru. An Exploration of the Mechanical and Audio Visual Portrayal of Self-Harm in Video Games

12:45 — 13:15 Damian Stewart. A Play of Wills: Narrative Entanglement and Psychological Violence in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

13:15 – 13:45 Margarita Skomorokh. Pain or Pleasure? The Typology and Interpretation of Sadistic Design Techniques in Masocore Games

13:45 — 15:30 Lunch

Section 3. Monstrosity and Mutations in Game Design

15: 30 — 16:00 Keynote: Alina Latypova. Glitches as a Source of Gameplay Mutation

16:00 — 16:30 Nina Houe. Playing as The Monster: Towards a Typology of Monstrous Player-Character in Computer Games

16:30 — 17:00 Sebastian Bednarek. Designing a Lovecraftian Digital Game

17:30 — 18:00 Panel Discussion. From Violent Media to Mediated Violence: How (Not) To Talk About Christchurch Moderator: Alesja Serada.

18:30 — 21:00 Farewell Dinner

Games against Players

It is our pleasure to invite you to our third international event on game studies in Lithuania — the Games against Players conference.

The conference is a 2 day event aimed at students and young scholars of media studies, cultural studies and other areas of humanities and social sciences. It will take place on April 14-15, 2019, at European Humanities University (Vilnius, Lithuania).

The event is organized by Games & Scholars (Vilnius) in partnership with the Laboratory for Computer Games at the Research Center for Mediaphilosophy (Saint Petersburg) and the Laboratory of Studies of Visual Culture and Contemporary Art (European Humanities University, Vilnius). The conference became possible thanks to support from the Department of Social Sciences of EHU.

The conference invites game researchers, critics and designers to discuss how games interact with players, and how this experience enriches players and changes the games themselves;  we will talk about different forms of oppression within game cultures and/or new productive imperatives of labour, creativity and life born in game media.

Following topics and cases are offered for discussion:

  • Games that play us: learning, dialogue, competition.
  • The game is broken: glitch in media studies.
  • Conversion of glitch: from destruction to creation.
  • Difficulty level: (im-)possible (tortureware, exploitationware, masocore games).
  • Games against players? Hardcore as a path to the Real.
  • Gamer theory: between utopia and dystopia of a perfect game.
  • Masocore: violence or ‘lulz’?
  • The good, the bad and the ugly: provocative aesthetics of indie games.
  • Non-human horror: the violent Other or escape from the ordinary?
  • Exploitative game design and its moral implications, and other related topics.

We are particularly interested in cases when the game takes the initiative from players and makes them do, see or feel things they would not consent to in a different context. Violence, in this case, is understood as uncontrollable disruption of player’s experience. The simplest example, as mundane as it could be, is Flappy Bird, which  wobbly controls reportedly made its players smash their phones. That Dragon, Cancer is a more elaborate example of gameplay violence: game’s deceptive affordances frustrate the player in dramatic situations when manipulations with available objects do not produce desirable results. On the storyline level, disturbing and baffling Doki Doki Literature Club is a violently subversive example. Finally, visual violence comes in many forms in video games, from hyperrealistic gore in horror games to intricate art of glitch. In the latter case, the game as an automated medium goes rogue and accidentally creates situations which the player fails to control. However, chaos created by the glitch cannot be seen exclusively as destructive; glitch in games fuels new art projects and forms new game practices, providing an opportunity for players to sharpen their skills.

The question is: why does the game go on, even if it breaks, if it abuses the player, and if the player confronts it? The situation of tension, overstrain, superchallenge in games produces an epistemological rupture in the process of play. How does it influence development of games and evolvement of players? What analytical perspectives can we apply to such cases? Can we talk about violence and cruelty in games, are these concepts consistent with new gaming environment? Who is being violent, and why? Is it media technology at large, or should we look for violence in the player’s gaze? How can we compare the horror of video games to the horror of other media (let alone horrors of the real world or human existence in general)? It can be stated that any game is an ambiguous experience that implies not only rewarding players but also punishing them for violating the rules (and sometimes even when conforming to the rules). We will discuss these, and similar questions, after the talks and during panel discussions.

Submission is CLOSED now. Recommended talk length is 15 to 20 minutes, followed by a 5 minute discussion.

The final decision about the program and submitted talk will be made before April 1, and the authors of all submissions will be notified about the result of reviewing process.

The organizers provide visa support and discount prices on accommodation to the accepted speakers who submitted before March 15 and need help with finding accommodation.

Articles based on presentations at the conference will be recommended for publication in the game studies issue of the university’s academic journals, Crossroads. Crossroads is included into EBSCO-CEEAS (Central & Eastern European Academic Source) and indexed in the MLA International Bibliography.

If you have any questions please address them to

Information for Guests of our Workshops

Information on logistics around Vilnius for guests of our workshops.

Our workshop will take place in the building at Valakupių Street, 5 (Valakupių gatvė 5). The university building is located in the quiet park at the edge of the city in the Antakalnis district. 

The building is shared between EHU and Mykolas Romeris University, so don’t be confused. Here’s how to get there. Читать «Information for Guests of our Workshops» далее