Call for Proposals: “Hades” Special Issue for JSMG

Guest Editors: Christopher Hill (University of Birmingham), Demetrius Shahmehri (Columbia University), Silvia Mantilla-Wright (University of York), Stephanie Lind (Queen’s University).

This special issue focuses on the sound and music of Supergiant Games’ rogue-like dungeon crawler Hades. Winner of “Best Indie Game” and “Best Action Game” categories at the Game Awards 2020, Hades has emerged as one of the most critically acclaimed games of recent years and remains popular among roguelike and action fans and casual players alike.

Hades focuses on Zagreus, the son of Hades and prince of the underworld, as he attempts to escape his father’s realm and find his mother. As a rogue-like, Hades requires players to lead Zagreus to numerous, repeated deaths in trying to make their first successful escape. The game then rewards the player with narrative progression with each successful run as each death returns Zagreus to his father’s House of the Dead. This merging of disparate elements — the repetition of the dungeon crawl through the underworld and the slowly unfolding narrative surrounding Zagreus, the underworld’s denizens, and the Olympians — makes for an emotionally moving and fulfilling gameplay experience for players. The sound and music of the game similarly merge disparate stylistic elements, one of the reasons the game’s soundtrack has been intriguing to scholars in music.

In this context, this issue will showcase how the music and game sounds of Hades shape and contribute to the gameplay and player experience; act as a conduit to the narrative development of the game; and establish the game environment from a sonic perspective.

We especially welcome submissions on topics that address:

  • How the soundtrack sets up or subverts player expectations.
  • Theoretical and narratological analysis of the soundtrack and its relationship to the gameworld and story.
  • Relationship between game design, setting, or narrative and Hades’s cross-genre sound aesthetics.
  • Musical representation of identity (e.g., gender, sexuality, and/or race/ethnicity)
  • The influence of contemporary/popular music genres on the composition of the soundtrack.
  • Genre and genre-bending.
  • Representation (arguably re-presentation) of Greek myth and how this is achieved between game and soundtrack.
  • Comparative analysis between Hades’ soundtrack and other games in an Ancient Greek mythological setting.

The submission process will be two-part: interested participants are asked to submit a 500-word abstract summarizing their potential article. Successful applicants will be invited to submit a full article for consideration, which will be blind peer reviewed.

Abstracts should be sent as a Microsoft Word or PDF document and should be submitted by January 20th, 2023. Please submit abstracts or any questions about the application process by email to  Contributors will be contacted by February 20th, 2023, and full paper submissions will be due June 1st, 2023.

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