The social histories of games in Asia are tied inextricably to its cities. The biggest cities were where games news, devices
and software percolated through, bought or smuggled in by extended family, enterprising entrepreneurs or grey market
profiteers. And yet, we have a very limited understanding of how cities and games are connected across the continent. What determined the availability of a particular cross-section of games in particular cities, and how did these grey markets operate within them?
Beyond this, the Asian city is also poorly represented in games. Usually used as a bit of exotic flavour (such as Singapore in the Battlefield games, “Calcutta” in No One Lives Forever 2, and the Kowloon Walled City of Hong Kong in the Call of Duty series). the complexities and nuances of Asian cities and megalopolises are ignored in favour of a generic ‘bustling’ and ‘chaotic’ trope.
The recent success of Cities: Skylines also demands a closer look at Asian cities from a mechanical level: what would an Asian city builder look like? The critic Cara Ellison has written about the fundamentally ‘American’ nature of the Simcity games, a pedigree that Skylines continues. The other paradigm, as seen in the Caesar/Pharaoh/Zeus city builders or the Anno games, are fundamentally “colonial” – based on the idea of extraction and displacement.
Issue 3 of the e:\>_ zine focuses on cities and games histories in Asia. We want to hear about how games have represented the cities you grew up or lived in, and how they can do better.
Articles could be personal narratives of how games, or a game,changed the way you viewed a certain place (regular players of Ingress, I’m looking at you). They could be essays about how games represent cities in an Asian context, and critiques thereof. They could be speculative pieces about how an “Asian” city builder might play, or an analytical/anthropological piece about how video games grey markets work. They could be big-picture accounts of sociality in games culture in a particular city.
We particularly welcome submissions from people who don’t necessarily identify as ‘gamers’, or have an interests in specific niches or gaming subcultures. You don’t have to send us a complete article – do feel free to pitch ideas and proposals, and we’d be delighted to work with you.
Do contact us with questions or suggestions. The deadline is April 30, but we’re flexible. Send your submissions/ideas by