Varios game imagry including an assassin, Super Mario, blind football players, a goose and a night club scene

Lost in the Game: Philosophical explorations of play, power, and partying through the apocalypse

Philosophical explorations of play, power, and partying through the apocalypse. Two-day conference feat. optional games night & afterparty!

In a world where glistening leisure industries coexist with increased working hours and generalised austerity, ailing superpowers wage gamified wars while communities of beautiful misfits embrace the norm(ie)-unsettling potential of life as a hyper-aggressive goose. Meanwhile, diverse inquiries into conceptual, aesthetic, ethical and political questions raised by games and play are taking off in philosophy departments and beyond.

This conference, hosted by the Department of Philosophy and Centre for Social Philosophy at the University of Nottingham with the generous support of the British Society of Aesthetics and the Aristotelian Society, will assemble an international, world-leading cast of exciting and/or excited philosophers (and others) to think and play together.

Sounds amazing, but can I afford it?

Yes, it's free! Bursaries are available to contribute towards travel and subsistence costs for all speakers - contact us for more info.


Friday 15 September 12pm - 6pm A02, Humanities Building

Saturday 16 September 9am - 12pm: B16, Trent Building 

Book your tickets

Register here.

Conference organisers

Koska Duff

Joseph Kisolo-Ssonko

Conference essentials

Getting to the University

Parking on campus


If you require book accommodation we recommend the on-campus Orchard Hotel 

The Orchard Hotel


  • Nele van de Mosselaer (Department of Philosophy, Tilburg University)
  • Aggie Hirst (Department of War Studies, King’s College London)


  • The Aristotelian Society
  • University of Nottingham School of Humanities

Call for papers

We invite philosophical and interdisciplinary contributions exploring play and games in the broadest sense. Questions might include, but are not limited to:

  • How can we define games and play (and their various sub-categories)? Should we even try?
  • How are (different forms of) games and play gendered, racialised, classed, abled, and otherwise entwined with structures of social power? What does it mean to play with gender? To play with power?
  • What(if anything) can games and play teach us about ourselves?
  • Can games and play alter, enhance, or impair our agency? What kinds of agents do different forms of play make of us?
  • How (and how effectively) can one do, or teach, philosophy through games?
  • What are the relationships between games and fiction?
  • How does (and how should) narrative work in games? What is the significance of ‘player characters’?
  • When and how are games implicated in the reproduction of organised violence, e.g. by valorising institutions like the police and military, training people to participate in them, or fostering militarised aesthetics, ethics and affects?
  • What is gamification? Is it good or bad or beyond good and evil?
  • How can play be art or art be playful? Do any unique aesthetic and/or ethical issues arise from considerations of games and play, beyond those familiar from other artforms?
  • How do we make sense of historical and contemporary ‘moral panics’ around games and play, e.g. Grand Theft Auto, Dungeons and Dragons, kink at Pride?
  • What is the significance of stigmatised/criminalised forms of play and partying, e.g. BDSM, 'chemsex', psychedelics, play parties, illegal raves? What role might associated practices like edgework, dark leisure, consensual non-consent, and collective joy play as responses to social conditions?
  • Can counter-cultural play and aesthetic practices liberate us from capitalist realism or are they a distraction from the struggle?
  • How much fun could a fully automated 'post-work' utopia be?

Contributions are especially welcomed from scholars who are junior, precarious and/or from non-traditional backgrounds. Some spaces are reserved for graduate students and un-/under-/precariously employed contributors. If you would like to be considered for these spaces, please note it on your abstract. Proposals for full session activities (e.g. workshops, game jams, panels) are also welcomed, and applicants are expected to take representation into consideration when planning or inviting contributors.

Please send anonymised abstracts of 100-300 words for individual papers (20 mins presentation + 25 mins Q&A), or 200-600 words for full session proposals (up to 90 mins total including audience participation) to by 17:00 BST on 31st July 2023.

The conference will be primarily in person, but there may be limited options to present online. Please include a request to present online in your abstract if you require this.


  • All conference spaces are fully accessible and rooms for conference sessions have hearing loop fitted (all speakers will be asked to use microphones). Disabled parking is available nearby.
  • Conference venue will include a quiet (low-sensory environment) space, and seating will be available in communal areas.
  • Delegates are encouraged to use our AccessAble app: 
  • Please feel free to contact the conference organiser ( for any accessibility queries.
  • Accessibility requirements  can be noted during the delegate registration process.
  • Online attendance available.
  • Delegate pack will include detailed information regarding the venue, transport links, emergency contact etc.


The University of Nottingham
University Park

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5151