DiGRA 2018 Workshop Call for Participation

On Trial: Fun!

A DiGRA 2018 pre-conference workshop
July 24, 2018, Turin, Italy

The time has come to settle one of the more pressing questions for game studies: Are games fun?

The One Trial: Fun! organizers seek interested participants attending the DiGRA 2018 conference to join us in debating, discussing and working to resolve this question

On Trial: Fun! will pit the “games are fun!” believers against the “game are much more than fun” naysayers to answer this question once and for all.

This pre-conference workshop will “workshop” the idea of fun and its relationship to games. During the three hour, thirty minute session, we will divide into two groups: “Yeah, Fun!” and “Boo! Fun.” Both groups will construct arguments supporting or refuting the role of fun in games and play. These position will then be presented at a very serious trial one evening during the conference. One or two people selected from each group will serve as barristers presenting the pro-fun and anti-fun positions before a jury of DiGRA peers. A panel of judges and a jury of 6-12 DiGRA delegates will hear arguments and ultimately decide fun’s fate. Light costuming for the judges and barristers will help facilitate the right atmosphere. And for the audience, supplies will be provided to help voice opinions on the serious matter of fun.

To participate, email: sharp@newschool.edu. The workshop organizers will follow up with materials and additional information.

Long associated with games, yet seldom discussed by game developers or game-studying academics, fun is a topic ripe for game and play scholarship. John Sharp and David Thomas, the workshop organizers, have long been fascinated by the aesthetic function of fun in games. Their forthcoming book, Fun, Taste, & Games: An Aesthetics for the Idle, Unproductive, and Otherwise Playful (The MIT Press, 2019) proposes a framework for understanding how fun operates. In this model, fun is understood as the intersection of set-outsideness, ludic forms, and ambiguity. Just as important to the model is the role of taste and the multiple ways it manifests: choice of games, play style, and play community.

After the conference concludes, Sharp and Thomas will collaborate with interested workshop participants to produce a proceedings of more fully developed essays on the subject of fun. The intention of the collected essays is to more formally consider the uneasy relationship fun has to games and play. We are in active negotiations with an academic press to publish the proceedings and or a related collected essays.

Organized by John Sharp (The New School, NYC) and David Thomas (University of Colorado Denver).

Important Dates

Submission opens
December, 1st 2017

Final Submission Deadline:
February, 9th 2018

Acceptance Notification:
March, 1st 2018

We apologize for the delay in sending a notification about your DIGRA 2018 submission. Due to the high number of submissions, the review process is taking longer than expected but we plan to send out an official notification by next week. Other important dates such as Early Bird registration will be modified accordingly. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

DiGRA Program Chairs

Early Bird Fee Expiration:
March, 29th 2018

Final submission of revised papers and extended abstracts:
April, 15th 2018


John Sharp is a game designer, graphic designer, art historian and curator. He makes games, teaches game design and researches and writes about games, play, art and creative process. He is the Associate Professor of Games and Learning in the School of Art, Media and Technology at Parsons School of Design at The New School where he co-directs PETLab (Prototyping, Education and Technology Lab), a research group focused on games and game design as a form of social discourse. John is the author of Works of Game: On the Aesthetics of Games and Art (The MIT Press, 2015) and the co-author of Games, Design, and Play: A Detailed Approach to Iterative Game Design (with Colleen Macklin, Wiley Professional, 2016) and the forthcoming Iterate: Ten Perspectives on Creativity and Failure (with Colleen Macklin, The MIT Press, 2019). John is also member of the game design collective Local No. 12, which makes games out of culture, including The Metagame and Backchatter.

David Thomas is a semi-retired videogame journalist and academic researcher who focuses on fun, fun objects, and immersive design. His current work focuses on bringing fun to the workplace (The Wacky Workplace!) and applying the “Fun, Taste & Games” framework to areas widely outside of games.


Sharp, J & Thomas, D. Fun, Taste, & Games: An Aesthetics of the Idle, Unproductive, and Otherwise Playful. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA (forthcoming).