„Fantastic Games. Ludic Imaginary Spaces and Their Socio-Cultural Impact”, 5th Annual Conference of the Association for Research in the Fantastic, Klagenfurt, Austria : 11th-14th of September 2014

    The Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung e.V. (GFF) [Association for Research in the Fantastic] is the first academic association in the German-speaking world committed to furthering research on the fantastic in art, literature and culture. GFF was founded in 2010 in Hamburg and strives to broaden scholarly and cultural insight in this area.

    GFF is one of the most important research associations on fantastic in art, literature and culture from continental Europe.

    Therefore, the association publishes its membership journal “Zeitschrift für Fantastikforschung”  (Research in the Fantastic Journal) twice a year as well as its own book series “Beiträge zur Fantastikforschung” (Contributions to the Research in the Fantastic). In addition, an annual conference provides the opportunity for a membership assembly, taking place in different locations each year.

    Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung

    GFF Board members are :

    Chair of the board: Lars Schmeink

    • Initiator of the GFF and co-organisor of the “Fremde Welten” (Strange Worlds) Conference
    • Lecturer at the English department of the Hamburg University
    • Memberships:

      • American Studies Association (ASA)
      • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Amerikastudien (DgfA)
      • Gesellschaft für Medienwissenschaften ( GfM )
      • Gesellschaft für Kanada-Studien (GKS)
      • International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts (IAFA)
      • Modern Language Association (MLA)
      • Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA)
      • Society of Utopian Studies (SUS)
      • Utopian Studies Society Europe (USS)
      • Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung (GFF)

    Chair of the board: Prof. Dr. Sabine Coelsch-Foisner

    • Head of the department for English at the Salzburg University
    • Head of the interdisciplinary research center ‘Metamorphischer Wandel in den Künsten’/’Metamorphic Change in the Arts’ (IRCM)
    • Head of the FWF-project: Fantastische Körpertransformationen (Fantastic Body Transformations, 2004 to 2007)

    Treasurer: Julia Gatermann

    • Student of American Studies at Hamburg University
    • Member of International Association for the Fanastic in Arts and Science Fiction Research Association
    • Works on science fiction, intertextuality, and magical realism

    Minutes: Prof. Dr. Ingrid Tomkowiak

    • Head of research and chair of the board at the ‘Schweizerisches Institut für Kinder- und Jugendmedien SIKJM’/Swiss Institute for Children and Youth Media (
    • Head of the department for popular literature and media at the ‘Institut für Populäre Kulturen’ (Institute for the Popular Cultures) at the Zürich University
    • Head of the project “Übergänge und Entgrenzungen. Welt, Wissen und Identität in fantastischer (Kinder- und Jugend-)Literatur und ihren Verfilmungen”/Transitions and Delimitation. World, Knowledge and Identity in the Fantastic (Children and Youth) Literature and their Film Adaptations, sponsored by the Swiss National Fund SNF

    Online-Assistant: Dr. Peter Seyferth

    • Lecturer and Research Fellow for theoretical politics at the Ludwig-Maximilians Munich University
    • Researcher in Utopianism, Anarchism, evolutionary theory and philosophical anthropology

    The Annual Conferences of the GFF are regular member meetings of the association and international, bilingual conferences on all aspects of the fantastic.

    The official beginning of the GFF 5th annual conference (Fantastic Games. Ludic Imaginary Spaces and Their Socio-Cultural Impact) is Thursday, 11.09.2014 at 2 p.m. with a welcome session and the ending of the conference is on Sunday, 14.09.2014 at 12 noon.

    The event is taking place at the Department of English and American Studies of Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt (Alpen-Adria University of Klagenfurt), Austria.

    The Guests are Tanya Krzywinska, Evelyn Hribersek, Barbara Flückiger, Konstantin Mitgutsch, Thomas Römer.

    We’ve noticed the participation of Dr.Pawel Frelik (President of the Science Fiction Research Association, Lublin University, Poland) with the lecture “When Media and Genres Collide – What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Science Fiction Games” and of Prof.Dr.Ana-Maria Tupan (University of Bucharest, Romania)  with the lecture “The Dice-Playing God.”

    „In Homo Ludens (1938), his essential and seminal study that is frequently seen as the beginning of Game Studies as we understand them today, Johan Huizinga claimed an ontological connection between culture, as the quintessentially human endeavour, and play. Refuting the constantly raised accusations that play is a futile and escapist activity, Huizinga in contrast attributed it a significant function, both in its metaphorical (i.e. “it is important”), as well as its literal (i.e. “it signifies”) meaning (1971: 1). By its very nature, play opens up spaces and worlds beyond primary, everyday reality, new frameworks of meaning that are, however, not devoid of meaningful interactions with it. Culture, Huizinga argues, needs the free space of play to come into existence in the first place, to change and to adapt.

    This intricate and complex web of interconnections between ludic otherworlds and the everyday life of individuals and groups is the core interest of the fifth annual conference of the Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung e.V. [Association for Research in the Fantastic].

    We have deliberately chosen the very open and inclusive phrasing “ludic imaginary spaces” for the objects of the papers, so that the range of media fitting the description is as wide as it can be: hypertext and other ludic forms of text, board- and card games, pen&paper role-playing games, live-action role-playing games (LARPs), video and computer games, alternate reality games, and gamified activities of all kinds are possible, but this list must in no way be seen as exhaustive. No matter the medium chosen, what is essential is that there is this “free space of movement within a more rigid structure” that exists “because of and also despite the more rigid structures of a system ” that Eric Zimmerman has identified as essential to any definition of play (2004: 159). The organisers of this conference also would like to send a strong message that the conflicts over interpretive authority between Ludologists and Narratologists in playable media that have hindered Game Studies since the late 1990s are a thing of the past, so papers suggesting ways to bridge this gap will be especially welcome.

    As the second focus of the conference, according to its title, is on the social and cultural exchanges between the secondary, or even tertiary realities created and the primary reality in which they are in turn created, played, and observed, possible approaches to these media reach from the implicit and explicit social and cultural politics of games and playable media on both the content and the structural level, to the regimes of representation and configuration present, the psycho-social phenomena surrounding the experiences created, to the political and social regulation of playful behaviour, and beyond. Game Studies are necessarily “a multidisciplinary field of study and learning with games and related phenomena as its subject matter” according to Frans Mäyrä (2010: 6), so theoretical perspectives from the whole range of academic disciplines and contributions from those working practically in the design and creation of ludic spaces would ideally come together to provide this fifth annual conference of the GFF with a kaleidoscopic overview of the full range of possibilities, problems, and the future potential of games and playable media in negotiating between the realms of the fantastic and everyday life.

    As usual for GFF conferences, there will be an additional Open Track for all papers not directly related to the conference topic to safeguard a pluralism of perspectives in our research in the Fantastic.”


    Huizinga, Johan. 1971. [1938] Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture. Boston/MA: The Beacon Press.

    Mäyrä, Frans. 2010. [2008] An Introduction to Game Studies: Games in Culture. Los Angeles/CA, London et al.: Sage.

    Zimmerman, Eric. 2004. “Narrative, Interactivity, Play, and Games”. In: Noah Wardip-Fruin and Pat Harrigan [Eds.]. 2004. First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game. Cambridge/MA and London: MIT Press. 154 – 164.

    Program :


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