Book: Virtual Existentialism – Meaning and Subjectivity in Virtual Worlds

Virtual ExistentialismStefano Gualeni and Daniel Vella have just published a new book on Palgrave’s Pivot imprint, treating the intersection of existential philosophy and virtual worlds.

How do experiences in (and of) virtual environments affect the ways in which individual human beings understand and attribute meaning to their own existence? Virtual Existentialism adopts a variety of scholarly perspectives in the combined attempt to understand and answer that question.

The book’s drive is twofold. It uses existential philosophy as a frame through which to understand and interpret the significance of virtual environments in the context of our existence. At the same time, it considers how our capacity to be in (and towards) these technologically mediated domains might lead to new understandings of the concerns of existential philosophy.

In this pursuit, Virtual Existentialism is firmly grounded, not only in philosophical works of existentialism and phenomenology, but also in philosophy of technology, virtual worlds research and game studies. articulates several perspectives from which virtual worlds can be understood as existentially (and even evolutionarily) relevant. Specifically, it claims that, in virtual worlds, human beings can reflect on their values and beliefs, take on new subjectivities, explore previously unexperienced ways of being, and take reflective stances towards their existence and their subjectivity in the actual world.

Virtual Existentialism introduces the notion of ‘virtual subjectivity’ to describe our being in virtual worlds, and discusses the experiential and existential mechanisms by which can move into, and out of, these virtual subjectivities. It also includes chapters containing focused engagement with the thought of Helmuth Plessner, Peter W. Zapffe, Jean-Paul Sartre and Eugen Fink, and their relevance to thinking through the existential significance of the virtual.  

The book should prove equally useful to scholars in philosophy, game studies, virtual worlds research and media studies. 

Journal Article: Virtual Subjectivity – Existence and Projectuality in Virtual Worlds

The forthcoming issue of Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology features a paper by Daniel Vella and Stefano Gualeni titled “Virtual Subjectivity: Existence and Projectuality in Virtual Worlds.”

Their paper draws on the notion of the ‘project,’ as developed in the existential philosophy of Heidegger and Sartre, to articulate an understanding of the existential structure of engagement with virtual worlds. By this philosophical understanding, the individual’s orientation towards a project structures a mechanism of self-determination, meaning that the project is understood essentially as the project to make oneself into a certain kind of being. Drawing on existing research from an existential-philosophical perspective on subjectivity in digital game environments, the notion of a ‘virtual subjectivity’ is proposed to refer to the subjective sense of being-in-the-virtual-world. The paper proposes an understanding of virtual subjectivity as standing in a nested relation to the individual’s subjectivity in the actual world, and argues that it is this relation that allows virtual world experience to gain significance in the light of the individual’s projectual existence. The arguments advanced in this paper pave the way for a comprehensive understanding of the transformative, self-transformative, and therapeutic possibilities and advantages afforded by virtual worlds.

A pre-print draft can be accessed here.


Registration for PCG 2016 open


Registration for the 10th International Conference in the Philosophy of Computer Games, being held at the University of Malta, 1-4 November 2016, is now open. Please go here to register. Early bird rates apply if you register before 29th September.

For more information regarding the conference, including travel and accommodation options, please visit the conference site.

We look forward to welcoming you to Malta!

Katja Kwastek is the Third Confirmed Keynote for PCG2016


Prof. Dr. Katja Kwastek is the third confirmed keynote speaker for the 10th International Conference in the Philosophy of Computer Games, being held in Malta, 1-4 November 2016.

Prof. Kwastek is professor of modern and contemporary art history at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Prior to this, she taught at Ludwig-Maximilians-University (Munich), the Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, RI) the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research (Linz, Austria), and at Humboldt-University (Berlin). Her research focuses on processual, digital and post-digital art, media history, theory and aesthetics, and digital humanities. In 2004, she curated the first international exhibition and conference project on Art and Wireless Communication. She has lectured internationally and published many books and essays, including her most recent Aesthetics of Interaction in Digital Art (MIT Press, 2013). 

More information about the conference is found on the conference website.

PCG 2016 Extended Submission Deadline and PhD Consortium

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The deadline for abstract submissions to the 10th International Conference in the Philosophy of Computer Games, being held at the University of Malta, November 1-4 2016, is being extended by ten days. The new deadline is 23:59 GMT on Friday 10th June 2016. Abstracts submitted later than this date will not be considered.

The call for papers with the updated deadline is available here:

In conjunction with the conference, a PhD consortium is being organized at the University of Malta on Tuesday, November 1. The consortium is intended for current PhD students or PhD applicants to present and discuss their current or proposed research. The consortium will be organized in a way that will give students a space to receive feedback and suggestions from a panel of mentors and experts in the fields of philosophy, game studies, game design, philosophy of technology, and other topics relevant to the themes of the conference.

For more details regarding the PhD consortium, including how to apply, please visit

Jos de Mul is the Second Confirmed Keynote Speaker for PCG 2016

We are very pleased to announce the second confirmed keynote speaker for the 10th Philosophy of Computer Games Conference, being held in Malta, November 1-4 2016.


Prof. Dr. Jos De Mul is full professor of Philosophy of Man and Culture at the Faculty of Philosophy, Erasmus University of Rotterdam (the Netherlands). He has also taught at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, USA) and at the Fudan University (Shanghai, China), and is a visiting fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, USA. His book publications in English include Cyberspace Odyssey: Towards a Virtual Ontology and Anthropology (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010), and Destiny Domesticated: The Rebirth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Technology (SUNY Press, 2014). More information will follow on the conference website.

Dan Pinchbeck is the First Confirmed Keynote Speaker for PCG 2016

We are very pleased to announce the first keynote speaker for the 10th Philosophy of Computer Games Conference, being held in Malta, November 1-4 2016.

pinchbeckDr. Dan Pinchbeck is Creative Director at The Chinese Room, a Brighton, UK-based game development studio specializing in experimental first-person perspective games. He has acted as writer, producer and designer on a number of acclaimed and influential games, including Dear Esther (2011) and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs (2013). Pinchbeck’s most recent game is Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (2015), which was nominated in ten categories at the 12th British Academy Games Awards in 2015, including Best Game, Artistic Achievement and Game Innovation. In addition to his work as a game designer, Dr. Pinchbeck is also Visiting Professor in the School of Creative Technologies at the University of Portsmouth, where he teaches Game Design and Game Studies. He is the author of DOOM: scarydarkfast (University of Michigan Press, 2013), a monograph in the University of Michigan Press’s Landmark Video Games series.

The two other keynote speakers will be announced soon. More information will follow on the conference website.

CFP: 10th International Conference in the Philosophy of Computer Games

vallettaWe invite scholars in any field of studies who take a professional interest in the relation between philosophy and computer games to submit papers to the 10th International Conference on the Philosophy of Computer Games, to be held in Malta, 1-4 November 2016.

This year’s edition focuses on the theme of Knowledge. Games inspire curiosity – as we explore and experiment with a game, our engagement is to a great degree shaped by epistemic processes of inquiry and discovery. What knowledge is learned through playing a game? What does it mean to know a game? We invite papers tackling questions related to epistemology, knowing how versus knowing that, embodied knowledge, normative knowledge of rules, ecological knowledge and affordances, cybernetics, systems theory and knowledge.

We look forward in particular to receiving contributions that address the following areas of inquiry, though we are also open to contributions that identify different angles from which to engage with the topic of knowledge of games:

  1. Inquiry, discovery, exploration and experimentation. Is an attitude of curiosity intrinsic to play? Do epistemic processes of inquiry and discovery shape play? How do exploration and experimentation in games reflect, or depart from, the empirical processes by which we gain experience of the world?
  2. The epistemology of play. What do we know when we ‘know’ how to play a game? What modes of knowledge pertain to games? What rational concepts shape our experience of a game? Is the unknown, or the unknowable, a factor in games?
  3. Knowledge through games. Can games and game design grant us extrinsic knowledge, and add to what we know about the world – as simulations, or as ontological, phenomenological or epistemological thought experiments?
  4. (Philosophical) knowledge of games. As this conference series reaches its milestone tenth edition, it is time to take a self-reflexive look at its motivations and accomplishments. What knowledge do we seek to gain by thinking about (and with) games from a philosophical perspective? What epistemic methodologies can we employ to do so?

In addition to this central theme, the conference also features an open category, for which we invite welcome contributions that do not fit this year’s theme, but that nonetheless offer a valuable contribution to the philosophy of computer games.

Submitted proposals should have a clear focus on philosophy and philosophical issues in relation to computer games. They should also refer to specific games rather than invoke them in more general terms.

Submissions should be made in the form of extended abstracts of up to 1000 words (excluding bibliography). Please indicate if you intend your paper to fit in the open category. The deadline for submissions is 23:59 GMT, Tuesday 31 May 2016. Please submit your abstract through All submitted abstracts will be subject to a double-blind peer review process.

Notification of accepted submissions will be sent out by Monday 11 July 2016. A full paper draft must then be submitted by Monday 17 October 2016 and will be made available on the conference website.

Accepted submissions will be also be eligible for consideration for a special issue of the Journal of the Philosophy of Games on the topic of Knowledge and Games.

We also invite proposals for themed panels and workshops on the 1st November. Please contact the program committee chair if you are interested in organizing one.

In conjunction with the conference, a PhD workshop is being organized by the Institute of Digital Games at the University of Malta. This will give doctoral students working on research related to the intersection of philosophy and games the opportunity to present their works-in-progress and ongoing research, and obtain feedback from a panel of mentors. If you are a doctoral student interested in participating in the workshop, please contact Note that participating in the PhD workshop does not exclude you from submitting an abstract to the main conference.

For information about the conference please visit and

Organizing committee
Dr. Stefano Gualeni (chair)
Prof. Ivan Callus
Prof. Claude Mangion
Dr. Daniel Vella
Dr. Krista Bonello Rutter Giappone
Francesca Borg Taylor-East
Johnathan Harrington
Geraldine Sammut
David Chircop
Marcello A. Gómez Maureira

Program committee
Daniel Vella (chair)
John Richard Sageng
Sebastian Möring
Stefano Gualeni
Olli Tapio Leino
Alison Gazzard
Christopher Thi Nguyen
Anita Leirfall