Popular Ludology No.0 – Call for Submissions


Popular Ludology is now accepting submissions of papers for an issue ‘zero’ to test the waters and ensure that there’s sufficient interest to continue with the effort. Provided you have direct experience of game design and publication in a commercial sense (even Indie) or have academic/scientific qualifications you can submit a  paper (see below).

The theme for the first issue is: “Defining & classifying games,” though you do not have to submit on that theme, it would be preferred.

More information is below.

Submit to grim AT postmort DOT demon DOT co DOT uk with [PopLud] in the title.

Submissions for issue zero are open until JULY 31st 2015

Popular Ludology

POPULAR: [ATTRIBUTIVE] (Of cultural activities or products) intended for or suited to the taste, understanding, or means of the general public rather than specialists or intellectuals.

LUDOLOGY: The study of games and gaming, especially video games.

Popular Ludology is an attempt to set up a new Ludology/Game Studies journal with a focus on positive, practical measures to understand and improve games, as games. Existing Ludology/Game Studies groups and journals tend to fixate on literary and critical theory and, as such, provide little or nothing of use from a game design or scientific perspective.

We want Popular Ludology to be an accessible, readable, useful, genuinely academic, scientific and practical resource for game developers and engaged game fans to understand and improve the medium as an effective tool for enjoyment and storytelling.


You should fit into one of two categories to submit a paper.

  • Category 1: You have practical experience of game design and publication and have successfully, commercially, published at least one game.
  • Category 2: You are an academic or scientist with a degree or higher educational attainment.

Popular Ludology is not limited to video games. If you have research or practical experience relating to tabletop RPGs, board games, card games or other such recreational games of similar ilk (excluding gambling) you are welcome, indeed encouraged, to submit.

You should be able to provide evidence of your qualifications or publication history. If you wish to submit anonymously you must satisfy the editor of your bona-fides.

Papers may be of any length but try to keep the total file-size reasonably low (<5mb).

Popular Ludology strives for openness and readability. Try – so much as is possible – to avoid jargon and keep to an accessible reading level (Grade 12, High School).

Papers should include a short 1-2 paragraph summary at the beginning.

Papers should be submitted in RTF format if at all possible, otherwise DOC (but not DOCX) is also acceptable. This requirement is to ensure more transferable formatting.

Papers should be submitted in point-size 10 font, with titles of sections and subsections in bold descending in point-size (20/14/12/10) as necessary to show sections and subsections.

Tables, images and other such visual data should be submitted as attachments separately to the document,rather than embedded in the document.

Papers should fit into one of two categories.

  • Category 1: The relation of direct practical experience (these are the papers to be accepted from game designers). These will not be held to such a high standard but their worth is in the transfer of experience. Claims and ideas presented in these are to be considered for future examination.
  • Category 2: Academic and scientific studies or the relating of such information to the audience. Include proper citations, avoid speculation and bias. Avoid foregone conclusions. Stick to the facts and the relation of those facts or relay how you discovered facts. Minimise opinion. Original research is greatly encouraged.

The Process

When you submit a paper it will be examined by the editorial staff and those who have previously submitted and had their papers accepted. It will be accepted or rejected on the basis of a simple majority (with 50% being a pass). Either way you should be informed.

If your paper is accepted you will be invited to the Popular Ludology email group. You do not have to accept and participation is not mandatory, but it will allow you to participate further as the journal and effort – hopefully – expand.

A month will be given for papers to be accepted.

At the end of that period the accepted papers will be collated and published in an ‘alpha draft’.

This alpha draft will be made available publicly to anyone and everyone for open review, criticism and objection.

You should monitor this feedback and, as you feel may be necessary, make changes, clarifications and extensions to your paper over the following month.

The final version of the journal (with any amendments, additions, retractions etc from review) will then be published. Papers may only be forcibly withdrawn against your will if 75% or more of the editorial and previously published authors agree in a vote.

Voting procedures will be made public in the journal itself.


Popular Ludology’s founding principles can be summed up thusly:

  • Hard science, hard data.
  • Usefulness.
  • Openness.
  • Experience.

The existing procedures have already come under some fire, and the use of Ludology as a term has been both questioned and supported. In order to get the project going I feel it necessary to be somewhat dictatorial, but I should also explain why I have made the decisions that I have.

Firstly, yes, this publication is motivated by Gamergate and in response to groups such as DiGRA. Throughout the year-or-so that Gamergate has been ongoing I and many other gaming fans, publishers, developers academics and scientists have been shocked and appalled to discover the poor state of academia and the existing structures when it comes to studying games. Many of us have lamented, nearly from the start, that a better alternative is needed. One wing of that effort looks like it will focus around League for Gamers becoming more supportive of academic and scientific efforts and it is my hope that PopLud will become another wing of that. However, I hope it will become more than simply a response to the problems we see and the aim is to create a genuinely useful resource, which is more than simply a reaction. People who do publish in or for what we consider to be ‘bad’ journals and organisations are welcome to submit, their papers will be considered on merit.

Secondly, the decision was made to allow papers from non-academics for several reasons. I have no academic qualifications myself, nor have many of the critics of the existing structures, but our criticisms and reviews have highlighted many serious problems and deserve to be taken seriously. This has underlined existing issues with ‘echo chambers’ in these sorts of fields of study (and the fields from which participation sometimes comes) and has, in my opinion, demonstrated a need to break that circle. Designers have useful, experience which people can relate to. They may not be able to tell you precisely why something has worked, but they can show it has worked and relate things like marketing data and studies from their experience which is useful both to researchers and other designers.

The decision to go with an open process relates to this. We want the journal to be accessible and useful and to avoid the aforementioned echo chamber. It is worth entering a note of caution however, in that this open process superficially resembles that of the ADA journal and the ‘fembot collective’, and has singularly failed to solve those issues in that case. Given that ADA has an explicit bias in its research goals and philosophy and we do not, hopefully this approach can work in this instance. Researchers need to understand their audience and their subject, something which the span of Gamergate has shown, in abundance, that they currently do not.

The decision to stick with ‘Ludology’ was not one which I personally supported. In my opinion the terms ‘Ludology’ and ‘Game Studies’ have become tainted. They do not, primarily, seem to be about games at all, rather a great deal of effort seems to be put into lit/crit theory, gender studies and opinion pieces about representation, race etc with little or no statistical or scientific backing. The consensus amongst interested parties appears to be that the terms ‘Ludology’ and ‘Game Studies’ are worth fighting for and that the more genuine and useful research attached to the name the better. So I bow to that consensus.

The Future

If this enterprise is successful, I intend to bow out of the editorship by Issue 3 and to hand off to a new, elected editor from applicants, voted for by those who have participated. Editorship terms should, in my opinion, run for a year or so or be removed by a 75% vote of no confidence. New editors should be approved by a 50% or more vote (from those participating). Again, all in my opinion but these are things that remain to be thrashed out.

If you have any questions, queries or worries please address them to the comments, or to the email address provided earlier.

3 responses to “Popular Ludology No.0 – Call for Submissions

  1. Accessible.reading if memory serves is not 12th grade level…it’s more 8th-9th grade level (at least in the States). Now game designers SHOULD be able to read/understand 12th grade level…but scientific writing isn’t what creatives typically gravitate toward. Or at least I don’t unless I’m really tired but can’t sleep.

    Good luck with the project though!!

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