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1. General Article Guidelines

First Person Scholar is seeking submissions from game critics and game scholars on the topics of games, games culture, and new media for our weekly publication. We publish Essays (1.1), Commentaries (1.2), and Book Reviews (1.3) that approach these topics critically and creatively.
All documents are reviewed by the editorial staff prior to publication. We will request revisions prior to publishing your article. General criteria for all submissions:

  • 2000 words.
  • Images should be in .JPG, .PNG format. Images embedded in articles should be submitted separate from the word document with in text placement indicators. Please ensure image sizes are 700 x 700 pixels or larger.
  • Studious in tone
  • Accessible in language.
  • Composed for a broad audience that might include game scholars and game developers, but also those interested in the field of game studies.
  • MLA or APA Citations – but no footnotes or endnotes
  • Embedded hyperlinks
  • Submissions should be given in .docx format
  • Videos will be accepted in .MP4 format or as a youtube link
  • Sound files to be submitted in .MP3 or as a soundcloud link
  • Although FPS is a Canadian site, submissions do not need to follow the conventions of Canadian English.

Please direct general inquiries to questions@firstpersonscholar.com

1.1 Essays

Essay submissions for FPS address critical, theoretical, and methodological considerations as they pertain to game studies. Essays should be theoretically grounded, but theory may be discussed in the context of particular games or play experiences. Essays require a minimum of three secondary sources such as texts, journal articles, researched blog posts, articles from reliable games media, etc. Embedded hyperlinks to secondary sources are strongly encouraged whenever possible to make sources as accessible as possible. Works cited/references does not count towards the 2,000 word limit on FPS essays.

Example: Silent Performers of Myth: Structuralist and Poststructuralist Approaches to The Stanley Parable by Sam Tjahjono

Section Editor:

  • Sarah Stang Email Essays

1.2 Commentaries

While our essays emphasize more theoretical approaches to games, our commentaries emphasize more experiential ones. Commentaries may draw upon many of the same scholarly sources as essays to contextualize those experiences, but place more emphasis on novel arguments about subjective player experiences. We encourage authors to be daring and experimental in their discussion. In essence, commentaries should be just that—a commentary on a game, an aspect of games culture, or a venture into new theoretical territory. Commentaries can include more personal examinations of games or games related topics as well as creative endeavours, timely responses to current events, and close readings. In contrast to our essays, our commentaries can but are not required to utilize academic sources, but context needs to be provided through use of embedded links.

Example: Immersed in a Fantasy World: GISHWHES by Elise Vist

Section Editor:

  • Lillian A. Black twitter-lEmail Commenaries

1.3 Book Reviews

Book Review submissions should offer a thoughtful consideration of the book and its arguments, while also situating that book within the field of games studies and the topic of the book. A review’s critique and commentary on the book should address the arguments but also the cohesiveness of the book, its relevance to games studies, its possible application in the classroom, and what the book means to you. We like to think that book reviews do more than simply review a book; we believe reviews are valuable for getting conversations started around topics and issues presented by books, encouraging further scholarly engagement and discussion.

Example: Unraveling Anthologies: A Review of Unraveling Resident Evil by Betsy Brey

Section Editor:

  • Patrick Dolan Email Book Reviews & Interviews

1.4 Special Features & Alternative Scholarship

On occasion we publish special features on a range of topics and formats. If you’re interested in pitching a special feature, contact the editor-in-chief. Past special features include a roundtable on safeguarding research , curated selections from the Queerness and Games Conference 2014 and an interview with Austin Walker.

We also highly encourage alternative forms of scholarship such as video essays, critical let’s plays or self-developed videogames. Any videos or sound files submitted will be re-hosted on the FPS Youtube channel or FPS Soundcloud account respectively. Contact the Editor-in-Chief with questions or submissions.

2. Formal Responses and Replies

We here at First Person Scholar have a unique philosophy, one situated in the emergent genre of middle-state publishing where contributors are encouraged to be proactive in their analyses and speculative rather than conclusive in their thinking. Because of this we welcome short replies to our essays or formal essay length responses. For an example please check out our round table on Shovel Knight.

3. Commenting Policy

Comments are welcomed and encouraged here on First Person Scholar; after all, constructive, thoughtful conversations are what we aim to generate with our articles. In that spirit, comments should be written with the aim to enrich our understanding of the material and to engage others in a dialogue that is conducive to learning.

However, comments that use derogatory language, that show little to no engagement with the article, that maintain a divisiveness and hostility that would degrade rather than enrich conversation will not be posted. While other sites have more relaxed policies in this regard, this is our policy.

Lastly, First Person Scholar is run by a group of volunteers. This means that the moderation of comments conforms to the schedule befitting a volunteer and so it may take between 24-48 hours (and perhaps longer delays on weekends, holidays, etc.) for your comment to be posted.

Frequently Asked Questions

The first step is to reach out to one of our section editors! Their contact info can be found in the Articles Guidelines Section below.

Here’s what we are looking for in a pitch:

  • Tell us in a paragraph or so what you want to write about. We are happy to help you refine your ideas (this is a collaborative process, after all) but you should have a more refined idea at this point than just what game you want to write about–ideally you have a specific argument. Book Reviews are an exception–it’s enough to know what book you’d like to review for us, especially if we are sending you a copy.
  • Things to ask yourself as you’re pitching: has this idea been done before? Is it important to you? How are you going to get that idea across to our audience? Are you inadvertently perpetuating the exclusionary and gatekeeping practices that presently pollutes gaming in all of its spheres? Think hard on that last one.

Here’s what we are looking for in a partial or full draft:

  • We ask that submissions have been proofread by their authors before sending it our way.
  • A draft should have some kind of clear argumentative thesis (early on in the work, please!)
  • Please do not send us work that is already significantly over the word limit–you can send us 2,200 words, for example, but not 10,000 words with the hope we’ll cut it down for you.
  • If you are referencing the intellectual work of someone, cite it. We accept MLA or APA, and please don’t use footnotes or endnotes.

You don’t need to send pitches to the EiC–they’ll just send you along to the appropriate section head. And if you’re not sure which section head to email, pick the one that sounds the most interesting to what you want to write.

Not too bad, hey? We’re happy to work with you from whatever stage you are in, but please take a look over your submission before sending it our way–it helps us get you published more quickly.

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We know we don’t work like a traditional journal. We’re very proud of that. But since it’s a different process, we wanted to explain how it usually goes. Our editorial pipeline usually works on shorter timescales than, say, an academic journal, but we are also grad students. Delays happen, but we will do our best to communicate and keep you updated. Don’t hesitate to email us if you have a question.

  • Step 1: You send us something cool!
  • Step 2: You should receive a quick email from the section head saying they got it. Depending on our schedule, you may also receive an estimate on how long it will be until they are able to return your draft with feedback and comments.
  • Step 3: Submissions are reviewed by a team of at least two, including the section editor as well as an associate and/or assistant editors. Many of our contributors are publishing for the first time, and our feedback emphasizes helping you polish your arguments and ideas for an online venue.
  • Step 4:  You will receive your draft back with a proposed date to return it to the editorial team. We usually suggest two or three weeks for a revised draft, but it’s something you can talk to with the editor. We want the timing to work for you.
  • Step 5: Repeat Step 3 and Step 4, usually 2-5 times. We work in small writing iterations and not large-scale, all-suggestions-at-once “Reviewer 2” style. You might do more than five revision cycles, you might do just one or two. It all depends on the needs and schedule of both you and of the editorial team. You’ll be kept in the loop the whole time, though.
  • Step 6: Once we’re happy with the piece, we’ll set a tentative publication date and your submission will move to copy-editing for final review. Copy editors just look for typos or small errors and make sure all the links work.
  • Step 7: Your article is published on a Wednesday at noon thirty. We disseminate our articles on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Step 8: Bask in your accomplishment, you awesome human-being. Coerce your friends, colleagues, and family into sharing and retweeting your article.
  • Step 9: Your section editor should send you some forms to fill out at the time your piece is published. That’ll help ya get paid for your work. Because you should be paid for writing, academic, journalistic, any form of professional writing is labour!
  • Step 10: We hope you enjoyed working with us and keep reading. We welcome repeat submissions, but we try to limit submissions from one single person to about once per year.

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  • Step 1: Your editor should send you some forms the same week we publish your piece.
  • Step 2: Fill out the forms. You don’t have to fill out every field, so check for instructions from your editor about which fields we need from you.
  • Step 3: Email those forms to payments@firstpersonscholar.com. Please do not reply back to the section editors! They are not allowed to be involved in the payment process past this step, and if they do anything related to paperwork beyond giving you the form, our admin team will ground them. No really, our editors don’t know how to help you past this stage, so just ask at the Payments email if you have questions or concerns.
  • Step 4:  Our admin team will input your form into the University of Waterloo’s payroll system. They may contact you if they need additional information to make your payment go through smoothly.
  • Step 5: Payment begins its miraculous journey, making its way through over 9,000 miles of red tape because that’s how universities work. After it is approved by payroll, it goes back to our admin for reapproval, then it goes to human resources for approval, and then back to our admin for re-reapproval, and then it should be headed your way. There are a lot of checkpoints here, so if things are taking a while, the delay would be happening in this stage. You can contact our admin at the Payments email with questions. But be aware that Payments can’t speed things outside our roles; HR and Payroll can’t be controlled.

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Please direct general inquiries to questions@firstpersonscholar.com 

“Is this an essay or a commentary?”

The eternal question. The alpha and omega. There isn’t really a strong difference. In fact, there’s a lot of overlap. Broadly speaking, however, if your idea more strongly emphasizes a theoretical bent with a lot of citation, it’s probably best suited to essays. If your writing is more experiential or experimental, try Commentaries. It’s also ok to pick one and ask! The section heads will talk and find the right home for your work.

“How can I be an editor for FPS?”

We are a group of current graduate students who are earning degrees in Canada. Did ya know we’re Canadian? Now you do. If you want to work for us, you need to be a graduate student based in Canada (international students at a Canadian University, you’re eligible! But not Canadians studying abroad–sorry expats). Editor positions are for one academic year, although if you’re doing well in your program and your supervisor isn’t chasing us with a torch and pitchfork for distracting you, you’re welcome to renew a position or ask for a different one. You can also quit after a year, but we will be sad, unless you are leaving us for another heckin’ cool job, in which case we will be sad but also proud. We accept applications from PhD or MA students each August-September for vacant positions.

“Do editors get paid?”

Yeah but it’s really not much. It’ll help with groceries but it won’t pay your rent. Sorry, we’re working on it!

“How much do contributors get paid?”

For anything money-related, contact payments@firstpersonscholar.com

“How often can I publish with FPS?”

We like working with familiar folks as much as we like new faces. You’re more than welcome to send something our way in the future, but we ask that you limit your submissions to one per academic year; we want to make sure we can include as many different voices as possible.

“How long does it take to finish a piece?”

That’s really up to you. We’re flexible and can schedule revisions around your needs.

“Are you peer-reviewed?”

I mean, in the sense that a group of peers is reviewing your paper? But for the traditional metric of academic currency, no. We aren’t a journal and if you need journal publications for tenure, applications, grants, scholarships, etc., we probably don’t check that box.

That being said, we’re super cool and we have a wide international readership across academic, journalistic, and industry spheres. Our stuff is regularly cited by academics in our discipline and frequently shows up on course syllabi. So there’s that.

“When is the soonest I can get published?”

We usually have between 1-3 months of articles prepared or in the works at any given time. We’re faster than a journal, but it does still take a bit. Occasionally, something happens and we might have a hole in our publishing schedule. In that case, we’ll contact you and ask if that date works for you. Alternately, we publish special issues from time-to-time, or may otherwise need to shift our publishing schedule around a bit. In these cases, we will reach out to confirm revised publishing dates with you. You won’t be “surprised-published.”

“How do I pitch a special issue?”/ “How can I collaborate with FPS?” / “I want to help fund FPS” / “I have an opportunity for FPS”

Email the Editor-in-Chief! We’re always excited to hear about collaborations, grants, joint-publication efforts, special issues, and more.

“I have a response to an article already published on FPS.”

Cool. We treat these as regular submissions and they go through the same process. Just don’t be an asshole to the original author. We won’t publish dunk pieces. We will publish critiques that punch nice and high up (but then it’s not really a dunk piece, is it?). We live by the rule that all research starts with people; treat your responses accordingly.

“I have an idea for a video/multimedia submission.”

We are primarily a print publication (with occasional podcasts, interviews, and even games), but we have accepted submissions in other forms in the past! A good approach in most cases is to treat non-print stuff as a support or supplement to a print submission. Don’t put a hundred hours into editing a video essay or game and cold-submit it to us, because that’s just going to be more work for you when we ask for revisions. Start with the print version first, and when we’re happy with that, then start putting the multimedia component together.

“I’d like to collaborate on a cross-promotional/paid post.”

No.

“bUt WhAt AbOuT eThIcS aNd GaMeS jOuRnAlIsM?”

Heck off, buddy.

“How often do you deal with trolls like the above, but unironically?”

It does happen. We try to keep an eye on known hotbeds for trolling/harassment and keep our contributors apprised of the situation. Seriously, we have an editor who checks the Bad Parts of the internet weekly to make sure we’re in the clear. We take the security and safety of our contributors seriously; you’re part of the team, too. We will only ever publish contact information that you specifically give us permission to publish.

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