Here at British Digra we’re really keen to make our events a really welcoming new voices to Game studies – so we asked Dr. Ying-Ying Law of Staffordshire University, our hosts this year, about her experiences last year at our Salford event:
Ying-Ying’s Blog – British DiGRA
Conference season… a term that begins around this time of year, where most people are either busy writing papers, reviewing abstracts, or both… followed by the conferences itself, which usually happens over summer holiday. I have always been quite frightful when it comes to conferences – What shall I write about? What happens if I don’t get accepted? What happens if I do, then what? And finally, why am I doing this? So I’ve decided to write a blog post about my experience presenting at conferences, and I would also like to make a disclaimer, that I am a British DiGRA (BDiGRA) organiser this year, so I will be promoting the event itself (at the end) – but please keep reading!
What shall I write?
This is a common question, as most academics may be writing on research they’re already working on, it could be an exploration of ideas, or it could even be something that has become very relevant in the world of games studies. Usually, what you submit is generally aligned with the theme of the conference. Does it match? If not, can you make it match? And will that draw out interesting ideas? For instance, this time last year I wrote an abstract piece to BDiGRA on female gamers and esports – I wanted to write a full paper, however, I was unsure how to expand my work – after presenting my work last year, I have taken away feedback to work on a full paper for BDiGRA this year. Therefore, it is important to highlight that it isn’t considered ‘shameful’ or ‘cheating’ to submit an abstract piece, instead it is encouraged to present your work you are interested in researching at conferences, and use it as a platform to explore ideas in a friendly environment and connect with the academic community.
What happens if I don’t get accepted?
If you have received an apology email that your abstract or paper has been rejected, it is important to not take it personally. This doesn’t mean your work was bad – as a conference organiser, there are only a certain number of days a conference is run, with so many slots and places available. For instance, DiGRA 2018 had over 300 submissions in the ‘general track’ this year. Hence, not everyone can be accepted and this is one of the reasons why we have a review process. Also, even if you don’t get accepted, the feedback from reviewers are insightful and useful for reflective purposes to improve your work and you can consider submitting to other conferences with a similar theme.
What happens if I get accepted, then what?
It’s wonderful news when you find out your abstract or paper has been accepted, but at the same time, it can also be a lot of work. From my own experience, I sometimes panic when I find out I’ve been accepted, because there’s a lot of things to organise; from checking your availability, booking accommodation and travel, not forgetting to register (early – for the early-bird fee), meet the deadline to make corrections, submit your presentation slides and practice, practice, practice!
Also, once you have received the full schedule of the conference, it’s also worth spending time looking at other key speakers/ speakers work to become familiar with their research and explore what gaps within the literature of game studies other academics are making their contribution towards – and if you have any questions about their work, conferences are a great opportunity for those questions to be answered.
Why am I doing this?
Finally, why am I doing this? Despite having previous experience presenting at a number of conferences, I’m not a great presenter – I regularly prepare a script to read (word from word) to my audience and hide behind my A4 sheets of paper.
As I previously mentioned, this time last year I submitted an abstract to BDiGRA, and I presented my work at a round table discussion (so, no PowerPoint slides – which meant no pieces of paper to hide behind) and I was told by Dr Esther MacCallum-Stewart to be my awesome self, and present my ideas – so I decided to do this without a script. To my surprise, I had a much better experience talking about my work to others in a more intimate setting (a round table of 10-15 people) – I felt relaxed and confident. I also felt glad that I wasn’t presenting a paper, as that required a PowerPoint presentation, but this time, I feel ready for it (fingers crossed my paper will be accepted).
So why do I still put myself in a situation where I often worry that my mind would go blank, others would think my ideas are irrelevant, and that it might be a ‘grilling’ process? Because it’s not like that, instead, it’s a place where you can be your awesome self and present your ideas in a friendly environment with like-minded individuals. It’s also an excellent opportunity for collaborative work with others too – so it’s always useful to have some business cards ready!
Finally, for those who are interested to submit to BDiGRA this year, we welcome submissions to our super friendly conference, including first time submissions and postgraduate research submissions. Also, we offer a mentorship scheme for those who seek guidance with their submissions, as well as offering mentors an opportunity to provide guidance to mentees – for more information about our mentorship scheme, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your time reading my blog post! And I hope to see you at British DiGRA 2018!
Dr Ying-Ying Law