literary intersections with play

File coordinated by Pierre Gabriel Dumoulin (UQAM), Emmanuelle Lescouet (UdeM) and Amélie Vallières (UQAM).

This file will be published in the journal Cultural Express.

We want to question the use of tools, devices or interfaces mobilized by playful practice in order to reflect on the use of these tools for narration. This reflection is articulated in a transdisciplinary and mediating perspective, which aims to explore how playful practices are invested, diverted and used by players. Thus we wish to encourage discussion at the crossroads of immersion and narration in playful contexts, and this, from the support mobilized from practice.

Thus, we intend to continue the reflection of several scholars on the notions of immersion (Bréan, 2020; Murray, 1997; Ryan, 2001) and corporeality (Amato, 2005) through the prism of Slater’s work. and Sanchez-Vives (2016) as well as those of Calleja (2011), for which the notion of immersion must be crossed with that of presence (p. 21), which means that playful works require an adaptation between tools or supports and the effects that are. formed in the players.

Beyond the materiality necessary to capture the work (Cavallo and Chartier, 2001), thinking about this physical and bodily presence (co-presence) within the framework of reception studies becomes essential: the diversity of forms, props and gestures invoked compel contemporary interlocutors to including their body in the aesthetic experience. This contact is at the core of the inscription of the self in the work and, therefore, of the issues of immersion (Triclot, 2017).

The parallel evolution of board games and video games also opens up different and multiple narrative embodiments and gestures. Similarly, the possibility of encounter and hybridity should be studied both in the context of narration and the construction, updating and illustration of fictional metatexts.

In this sense, it is about reflecting on the relationship between narrative and playful mechanics. How do the tools mobilized by playful practices support the narrative? In what ways do mechanics contribute to immersion? How do interdisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches enable the development of new analytical tools?

We propose to discuss the proponents from three axes.

Axis 1: narrative and playful interaction between physical and digital media

The variety of game media (card, board, meeple or pawn games, console, smartphone or computer video games) tends to hybridize to create unique propositions. The co-presence of these media in the works enables the development of narratives: if in Unlock! The app (Space Cowboys) checks the answers to puzzles, maps are necessary for world building; whether [kosmopoli:t] (Opla games) requires a table, the audio application is necessary to solve the investigations.

Many RPG creators provide additional materials: figurines, maps, navigation apps, audio visual playlists, etc. to enrich the experience.

The interactions between these different supports, these distinct materialities, call into question the player’s agentic co-presence: In what dimension does he fit? Where do his traces materialize? How do these contribute to the construction of the narrative?

The coexistence of the digital in interaction with the physical supports continues the hyperlink (Agostini-Marchese, 2020) and enriches it with a special gestural and narrative metatext.

The question also exists in video game studies. Playing on one console or another, on a fixed installation or a smartphone, with a controller or touch controls changes the experience. These gestural differences are the basis of different and potentially unique experiences.

Axis 2: differences between tools, devices, interaction devices

The limits and possibilities that gaming offers in terms of storytelling are constantly being multiplied by the combinations offered by development tools, game devices and interaction devices. From visual novels to point-and-click, through board games, augmented or virtual reality games, the ways in which players invest diegesis invite us to deepen theories on narrative spaces (Coavoux et al., 2012) from a spectrum of interactivity and a variety of tools.

The narrative spaces that form in playful universes disturb the classical notion of literature and invite us to think differently about how a story is told or experienced (Dubbelman, 2016). On the one hand, players invest in the story, they come to interact with it; on the other hand, narrative spaces specific to ludic forms impose their own limitations on interactive possibilities. This means that the modes in which the game is created (game engine, programmed actions, game physics) multiply the ways of interacting with the story.

If narrative is based on a repertoire of actions (Gervais, 2005; Citton, 2012), the natural interplay of playful forms makes it possible to develop new ways of living literary experiences, and this, through tools, technical devices or devices. As much as these devices make it possible to deploy new methods (the contribution of virtual reality to immersion, for example), the same devices are limiting: the lack of sound from board games, the accessibility problems of controllers, the limits programmed in the universe playful etc.

Each interaction device comes with its own repertoire of actions, which is part of a history of interaction practices. For example, some mechanical elements have meaning (“A” to jump, “WASD” buttons on the keyboard to move), while the tools themselves are constantly evolving (from the Nintendo Entertainment System controller to the virtual reality headset).

This second axis invites us to think about the modalities that allow interaction, even immersion, with playful universes, the limits of devices and the way in which the latter develop to offer new paradigms of immersion.

Axis 3: interfaces and their impact on immersion and narrative

The immersive experience is shaped by how the fictional universe challenges players and how they manage to interact with the codes of the living universe. Interfaces thus participate in the mobilization of certain affects and define, at least in part, the playful experience.

Described as “the experience of being transported to a simulated and elaborate place” (Murray, 1997, p.98, we translate), immersion is at the heart of any funny and narrative process. The interface interferes with the immersive experience, in that players interact both in and with the work (Ensslin, 2012). The role that the interface plays in producing impacts affects the immersive process, but also how immersion can be used as a tool by developers.

Immersion occurs when players are embodied in the virtual world, and the latter reacts to their presence (Calleja, 2011). The interface thus becomes the filter through which actions are mediated, both from the point of view of the user interface and from the point of view of the tools that allow the connection between the players and the universe. fictitious (eg mouse, gamepad, keyboard, camera, etc. .).

By proposing this line of research, we wish to encourage discussion on the role(s) played by the interfaces and tools necessary for playful experiences and how these experiences modify, change, or influence our understanding of immersion and playfulness.

We would like to invite interested researchers to question the works, practices, but also to question the theories and methods of game analysis.

Important dates:

March 3: Presentation of article proposals
end of March: Return of coordinators to authors
June 16: Submission of full articles, if the proposal is accepted
September 29: Back to the Authors
Release planned for 2024.


Paper proposals should contain an abstract of 500 words, several relevant references and be accompanied by a brief biobibliographic notice, including the university of origin. Proposals should explain the axis in which they fall and briefly summarize the theoretical framework, the research objective and its methodology.
If the proposal is accepted, the article must be written in French and contain 30,000 to 40,000 characters (notes and spaces included, bibliography not included). This will be subject to a double blind peer review.
Cultural Express magazine formal requirements are available here:


Amélie Vallières,

References used in this text:

Agostini-Marchese, E. (2020). How to make cities with words. The City, Space and Literature in the Age of Hyperlinking. In J. Moore and C. Proulx (eds.), Operating in a hyper-connected state. University of Montreal Press.

Amato, EA (2005). Videogame reframing of the human body: the videogame stance. In S. Genvo (dir.), Video game design: approaches to video game expression (pp. 299-323). Harattan.

Brean, S. (2020). Towards participatory immersion: a comparative study of fictional artefacts in literature, cinema and video games. Cahiers de Narratologie, 37. Retrieved from

Calleja, G. (2011). At Play: From Immersion to Incorporation. MITPpress.

Citton, Y. (2012). Gestures of humanity: the wild anthropology of our aesthetic experiences. Armand Collin.

Coavoux, S., Rufat, S. and Ter Minassian, H. (2012). The space and time of video games. Theoretical issues.

Cavallo, G. and Chartier, R. (eds.). (2001). The history of reading in the Western world. Threshold.

Dubbelman, T. (2016). Narrative game mechanics. Interactive Storytelling: 9th International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling.

Ensslin, A. (2012). The language of games. Palgrave Macmillan.

Gervais, B. (2005). Reading stories and understanding action. Vox Poetica.

Murray, JH (1997). Hamlet in the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. MITPpress.

Slater, M. and Sanchez-Vives, MV (2016). Enhancing our lives with immersive virtual reality. The forehead. Robot. AU, 3 (74).

Ryan, M.-L. (2001). Narrative as virtual reality. Immersion and interactivity in literature and electronic media. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Triclot, M. (2013). The video game body: devices, positions, emotions. Digital Art Criticism, (3), 64-79.

Triclot, M. (2017). The philosophy of video games. The discovery.

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