Matthew S. S. Johnson
Matthew S. S. Johnson Matthew S. S. Johnson (Email)
Associate Professor
Director of First-Year Writing
Department of English Language & Literature
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Reviews Editor, Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds

Research interests: rhetoric-composition -- theory, pedagogy, and history; digital/electronic literacies and technology; basic writing; writing program administration; culture studies; game studies and ludology

Journal of Gaming & Virtual Worlds

Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds (ISSN: 1757191X / Online ISSN: 17571928)

As Reviews Editor for the Journal of Gaming & Virtual Worlds, I am always seeking reviewers for game/gaming-related academic books, websites, communities, and "popular" books, in addition to reviews of virtual environments and, of course, videogames (recent or older, single- or multiplayer, across all platforms). If you are interested writing a review for JGVW, please see the revolving call-for-papers (with additional information about reviews in particular), below, and/or contact me.

From the journal's front matter: The Journal of Gaming & Virtual Worlds is a peer-refereed, international journal that focuses on theoretical and applied, empirical, critical, rhetorical, creative, economic, pedagogical and professional approaches to the study of electronic games across platforms and genres, as well as ludic and serious online environments such as massively multiplayer online role-playing games and Second Life™.

JGVW aims at researchers and professional working in and researching creative new media and entertainment software around the globe, and seeks to document, harmonize, juxtapose and critically evaluate cutting-edge market trends and technological developments, as well as sociocultural, political, economic and psychological concerns. It informs its readers about recent events such as conferences, and features long articles, short papers, post abstracts, interviews, reports and reviews of relevant new publications, video games and virtual environments, machinima, websites and new hardware releases.

Reviews

If you are interested in writing a videogame-related or virtual space-related review, please email Dr. Matthew S. S. Johnson. For articles, please send your manuscript as a Word document via email attachment to Dr. Astrid Ensslin (Principal Editor) or Dr. Eben Muse (Associate Editor). For machinima-related reviews, contact Dr. Phylis Johnson.

Word Count Guidelines:
Long articles: 4,000-6,000 words
Short articles: 3,000-4,000 words
Conference reports: 500-1,000 words
Reviews and interviews: 1,500-2,000 words

For questions on formatting and spelling, please consult the Intellect Style Guide and/or contact the Editors, above.

Additional Information about Reviews

Reviews of all texts (books, conferences, articles, videogames, virtual environments), recent or older, are welcome. Reviews of games or virtual environments should be "scholarly" (as opposed to "commerical"); JGVW is looking for how texts contribute to the academic field or the object of study's "genre." All scholarly foci are welcome (new media studies, new literacy, rhetoric, games studies/ludology, culture studies, and so forth); reviews may connect to pedagogy or literacy development, relate to other texts, or illustrate how an object of study has made a cultural impact. All reviews will have their own titles (in an effort to recognize that they are more sophisticated than mere evaluations). I am happy to forward examples of previous reviews to potential reviewers. While I might request specific texts (or make particular suggestions to potential reviewers), I am keenly interested in reviewers selecting their own materials for review and I will remain flexible, accordingly. If I receive an unsolicited review and cannot include it in the next issue, I will hold onto it -- with its author's permission -- for a subsequent issue. For academic books in particular, I will work with the publishers to procure complimentary copies; however, this strategy does not work with videogames or subscriptions to MMOGs or other virtual worlds, of course, and different publishers have different policies concerning "free" materials (perhaps needless to say, neither I nor JGVW has a budget to purchase materials for reviewers).

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Rhetoric/Composition/Play Rhetoric/Composition/Play through Video Games: Reshaping Theory and Practice of Writing. Eds. Richard Colby, Matthew S. S. Johnson, and Rebekah Shultz Colby). (Palgrave Macmillan 2013)
Amazon.com Palgrave Macmillan
From the book cover: Video games, contributors to Rhetoric/Composition/Play assume, can not only be productive to play, but can greatly enhance learning -- specifically, reading, writing, and critical thinking -- in myriad ways. The collection explores games as rhetorical objects, as texts equally as sophisticated as their media counterparts (films and books), and as foundations on which a classroom curriculum can be built. Scholars in this volume investigate video games' theoretical and applied dimensions, offering innovative ways to enhance composition-rhetoric scholarship and teaching through the study of games, gamers, and gaming culture.
"Ludic Snags." with Richard Colby. Rhetoric/Composition/Play through Video Games: Reshaping Theory and Practice of Writing. Eds. Richard Colby, Matthew S. S. Johnson, and Rebekah Shultz Colby). (Palgrave Macmillan 2013)
Amazon.com Palgrave Macmillan
From the chapter: While game studies will remain an active academic field -- video games are too popular and widespread, too culturally significant and influential, too sophisticated a scholarly artifact to go away -- game pedagogy in general and game pedagogy in writing courses in particular can and should be met with a healthy dose of productive skepticism. Video games are not universally played or enjoyed by students, despite popular beliefs to the contrary. The games discussed in this collection (largely) are not intended for educational purposes. And the scholarship and lore of game-based pedagogies is still evolving, resulting in gaps in practice and theory. In any case, video games require some expertise or at the very least comfortable familiarity before they might be integrated into a course (84).
composing(media) = composing(embodiment) "Player, Avatar, Author: Subjectivities of a Computer Gamer." Composing (Media) = Composing (Embodiment). Eds. Kristin L. Arola, Anne Frances Wysocki. (Utah State UP, 2012).
Amazon.com Utah State University Press
From Anne Frances Wysocki's introduction: Matthew S. S. Johnson's chapter compares the processes of embodiment assumed in composition textbooks to those assumed in computer game manuals and games. As players choose the qualities through which they will understand themselves while playing, they come to understand the possibilities of experiencing complex, ready-made worlds from different perspectives. ... Johnson ... suggests strategies we might use to help students consider differing embodiments across differing media, with the hope that this will encourage more exploration in writing activities (9).
Techsty "Reflections of an Academic Gamer or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Work of Play." Techsty: Magazyn Ludologiczny/Ludological Journal 8.1 (2012).
English | Polish
Brief abstract: From one perspective, I shall be the first to point out, this essay is rather self-indulgent: I am serving as my own "case study" analyzing my own experience and trying to glean something from it. From a more generous perspective, and I hope a more accurate one, this essay provides an illustration of theories of game and play, traced over time in the life of an individual gamer, engaging theoretical, pedagogical, and popular texts about gaming as they work sometimes in conjunction, sometimes in tension with one another. In addition, the significance of personal gaming experiences reveals, implicitly, that as productive as the movement is, we need not turn to "serious games" -- those that specifically are designed to education -- to see the educational and literacy development value in commercially-available and extremely popular game titles. Last, I hope my anecdotes throughout this essay show how our own gaming histories and active self-reflection about them are exceedingly important for scholars investigating games and gaming practices as we continue to do good theoretical work on games and persuade others to recognize them as serious objects of scholarly study within the academy, and texts and activities to celebrate within and beyond it.
CCC June 2010 "Response to Jonathan Alexander's 'Gaming, Student Literacies, and the Composition Classroom: Some Possibilities for Transformation.'" with Richard Colby and Rebekah Shultz Colby. College Composition and Communication 64.4 (June 2010): 761-767. CCC Interchanges -- response article.
Writing and the Digital Generation "Rekindling Rhetoric: Oratory and Marketplace Culture in Guild Wars." Writing (and) the Digital Generation. Ed. Heather Urbanski. (McFarland, 2010).
Amazon.com McFarland
From Heather Urbanski's Introduction: Continuing what might be described as the "explaining gamers" section is Matthew S. S. Johnson's analysis of the marketplace in the MMORPG Guild Wars, "Rekindling Rhetoric: Oratory and Marketplace Culture in Guild Wars." Using the concept of the ancient Greek marketplace (agora) as his jumping off point, Johnson examines the activity and experience of game play in what I think may be an unexpected way, arguing that such games recreate a "space" that has been lost in contemporary culture, a space for public critique and social action that may reappear and bring forth change in the "real" world.
"Vicarious Play: A Jaunt through Computer Role-Playing Game History." Academic review of Matt Barton's Dungeons & Desktops (A K Peters, Ltd. 2008). Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds 1.1 (2009). Dungeons and DesktopsReview of Matt Barton's Dungeons & Desktops: The History of Computer Role-Playing Games (A K Peters/CRC Press, 2008).
Computers and Composition: Reading Games Computers & Composition: An International Journal. Co-guest-edited with Pilar Lacasa. Special issue, "Reading Games: Composition, Literacy, and Video Gaming." Matthew S. S. Johnson & Pilar Lacasa, eds. 25.3 (September 2008). While videogaming has been a strong cultural force since the advent of the popular coin-operated arcades of the 1970s, it is only within the last few years that video/computer gaming has been an academic focus: There is a lot of catch-up work to do. The average age of gamers has been steadily increasing as has the number of dedicated players. Inevitably, this dedication to gaming will have -- if it does not already -- a profound impact on learning and literacy. Video/computer games are historically- and culturally-situated texts that operate in particular social contexts significant to composition theory and praxis. This special issue of Computers & Composition examines the intersections of video/computer gaming and composition studies, addressing the following questions: How do gamers play the roles of readers and writers? How can games function as educational tools? How are video/computer games currectly used in the composition classroom and to what effect?
"Public Writing in Gaming Spaces." Computers & Composition: An International Journal 25.3 (September 2008): 270-283. Brief abstract: Although recent composition scholarship has focused on public writing and civic participation, classroom practices do not (yet) seem to match the theory. This trend should not indicate, though, that public writing is not being done -- rather that we may have to look beyond the classroom to see our students participating in it. "Public Writing in Gaming Spaces" argues that the writing that computer gamers do in and for their online communities is not only directed to clearly definable audiences and with specific purposes, but has the potential to institute real, measurable change within gaming communities and the larger gaming industry. What's more, unlike conventional academic spaces and workspaces, the playspace in which gamers write in comprised of textual exchange that is self-motivated; the writers themselves collaboratively construct them. "Gamer-authors" ultimately discover that they are agents who have the power, through writing, to shape the electronic worlds -- games and other online spaces -- they regularly inhabit, putting into sharp relief how writing does, in fact, matter.
College English "Teaching Iron Chef." College English 70.4 (March 2008): 401-402. A short pedagogical anecdote in a special topics issue on the pedagogy of food.
From Hip-hop to Hyperlinks "Teasing out Everyday Culture: Why Simple Questions Are Worth Asking." From Hip Hop to Hyperlinks: Practical Approaches for Teaching Culture in the Composition Classroom. Ed. Joanna Paull. (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008).
Amazon.com Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Brief abstract: Composition instructors have long integrated cultural studies into the writing classroom, and while some students have begun to expect analysis of minority culture, they are comparatively unfamiliar with analyzing mainstream cultures to which the vast majority of them belong: youth culture and university student culture. Teaching their "everyday" culture can be hugely productive in that it helps students to realize that they already know more history than they thought they did, that what they already know can serve as productive evidence for argument-making, that they already belong to numerous (sub)cultures simultaneously, and that they have been and always are enjoying rich cultural experiences of their own.
"Combat to Conversation: Towards a Theoretical Foundation for the Study of Games." Dichtung Digital 37.1 (December 2007): n.p. <http://www.dichtung-digital>. Brief abstract: In "Combat to Conversation," I first conduct a rhetorical analysis of representative examples of video game scholarship in order to reveal that much of digital game studies lacks the close-readings of individual games necessary to establish viable video game theory. I then provide an example of the type of close-reading that can be done -- specifically on the adventure game Indigo Prophecy -- which I argue illustrates a form of gameplaying and storytelling that resists easy classification by either ludologists or narratologists.
Techknowledgies "The Texts of Tamriel: Online Gaming Projects, from Playing to Writing." Techknowledgies: New Cultural Imaginaries in the Humanities, Arts, & TechnoSciences. Ed. Mary Valentis. (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007).
Amazon.com Cambridge Scholars Publishing
From Mary Valentis's introduction: Inside the Textual Web focuses on play and gaming spaces within the web that don't provide escape from certain pedagogical and gender issues. Matthew S. S. Johnson views the new "playspaces" of online gaming projects and communicates as affording new directions for humanities scholars and writing teachers, particularly in areas such as authorship and textual ownership. His exemplum is Morrowind, [whose] online gaming community ... supports individual writers and extends the imagined universe into a workspace complete with critique, schedules, and timelines (xx).

Tentative Fall 2015:
ENG 554: Composition Pedagogy (for Graduate/Teaching Assistants)
ENG 101: English Composition I

Tentative Spring 2015:
ENG 572: Theory and Practice of Teaching Writing with Computers
ENG 412: Digital Literacies

Fall 2014:
ENG 554: Composition Pedagogy (for Graduate/Teaching Assistants)
ENG 101: English Composition I

Fall 2013:
ENG 554: Composition Pedagogy (for Graduate/Teaching Assistants)
ENG 485: Methods of Teaching Secondary English -- Composition and Language

Spring 2013:
ENG 556: Theory of Composition and Rhetoric
ENG 490: Advanced Composition

Fall 2012:
ENG 554: Composition Pedagogy (for Graduate/Teaching Assistants)
ENG 485: Methods of Teaching Secondary English -- Composition and Language

Spring 2012:
ENG 490: Advanced Composition

Fall 2011:
ENG 574: Basic Writing Theory and Pedagogy
ENG 485: Methods of Teaching Secondary English -- Composition and Language
CIV 115: Composing Worlds -- Visualizing Words & Writing Images (w/ Erin Vigneau Dimick)

Spring 2011:
ENG 581: Topics in Teaching Writing -- Post-Process Theory and 21st Century Audiences
ENG 491: Technical and Business Writing

Fall 2010:
ENG 554: Composition Pedagogy
ENG 485: Methods of Teaching Secondary English -- Composition and Language
CIV 115: Composing Worlds -- Visualizing Words & Writing Images (w/ Erin Vigneau Dimick)

Summer 2010:
ENG 488: History of Rhetoric

Spring 2010:
ENG 558: Practicum in the Teaching of Writing
ENG 491: Technical and Business Writing
ENG 485: Methods of Teaching Secondary English -- Composition and Language

Fall 2009:
ENG 485: Methods of Teaching Secondary English -- Composition and Language
CIV 115: Composing Worlds -- Visualizing Words & Writing Images (w/ Erin Vigneau Dimick)

Spring 2009:
ENG 485: Methods of Teaching Secondary English -- Composition and Language

Fall 2008:
ENG 485: Methods of Teaching Secondary English -- Composition and Language
CIV 115: Composing Worlds -- Visualizing Words & Writing Images (w/ Erin Vigneau Dimick)

Summer 2008:
ENG 597: Not Minding the Gap -- Perspectives on the Teaching of Writing from Secondary to Post-Secondary Education
ENG 488: History of Rhetoric

Spring 2008:
ENG 597: Computers, Composition, and Writers with Learning Disabilities
ENG 581: Topics in Teaching Writing -- Writing in the Field: The Making, Teaching, and Publishing of Arguments
ENG 558: Practicum in the Teaching of Writing

Fall 2007:
ENG 574: Theory and Practice of Teaching Basic and Developmental Writing
CIV 115: Composing Worlds -- Visualizing Words & Writing Images (w/ Erin Vigneau Dimick)

Summer 2007:
ENG 487: Politics of Composition Pedagogy -- The Rifts, Turf Wars, and Arguments that Hold Us Together)

Spring 2007:
ENG 572: Theory and Practice of Teaching Writing with Computers
ENG 499: Crafting the Author -- Writing Identities, 1800-Present
ENG 490: Advanced Composition -- Investigating Communities
ENG 102: English Composition II

Fall 2006:
ENG 581: Topics in Teaching Writing: Currents in Composition
ENG 490: Advanced Composition -- Investigating Communities
ENG 101: English Composition I