Loading Special Issue on Kingdom Hearts


The Kingdom Hearts franchise straddles worlds, falling between the realms of Disney and Square Enix, invoking myriad characters and franchises from both companies and finding fans not just in Japan and America, but all over the world. Despite the success of this franchise, which now extends to eight mainline instalments produced since 2002 (not to mention additional remasters and mobile game spin-offs) collectively selling 24 million units to date (Minotti, 2018), Kingdom Hearts has yet to be fully interrogated as a nexus point for game culture. As a remedy, this Special Issue of Loading seeks to investigate how Kingdom Hearts occupies a locus point between cultures, industries and fandoms. In Kingdom Hearts, we argue, games studies finds an exemplar of current debates and theories, including, but not limited to issues like:  Ludo-adaptation and narratology (Punday, 2019), representation, identity and diversity (Chess, 2017; Kocurek, 2015; Malkowski and Russworm, 2017; Ruberg and Shaw, 2017) and participatory culture and fan taste cultures (Consalvo and Paul, 2019; Sharp and Thomas, 2019). In particular, we seek to find the moments of tension, synergy and unexpected synchrony enabled by the blending of Square Enix and Disney’s characters, worlds and business cultures. In doing so, we aim to interrogate the impact such transnational, transcultural and transindustrial co-productions can have on wider games culture

This Special Issue will build on an existing project about Kingdom Hearts, but we are looking to expand its remit, especially in the areas outlined below. If these, or any other topics interest you, please do get in touch with us:


  • Transmedia storytelling
  • Ludology within Kingdom Hearts
  • Ancillary merchandising
  • Adaptation of Disney characters in Kingdom Hearts
  • Music and sound in Kingdom Hearts
  • Kingdom Hearts in the history of the Japanese Role-playing Game
  • How Kingdom Hearts relates to current key theoretical debates in Games Studies
  • Issues of representation, particularly anthropomorphism, ethnicity and sexuality
  • Fan creativity around Kingdom Hearts


If you would like to submit a proposal, please send a 300 word abstract by 14 August 2020, including full contact details, to the editors at:


Works cited

Chess, S., 2017. Ready Player Two: Women Gamers and Designed Identity. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

Consalvo, M., Paul, C.A., 2019. Real Games: What’s Legitimate and What’s Not in Contemporary Videogames. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Kocurek, C.A., 2015. Coin-Operated Americans: Rebooting Boyhood at the Video Game Arcade. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

Malkowski, J., Russworm, T. (Eds.), 2017. Gaming Representation: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Video Games. Indiana University Press, Bloomington.

Punday, D., 2019. Playing at Narratology: Digital Media as Narrative Theory. The Ohio State University Press, Columbus.

Ruberg, B., Shaw, A. (Eds.), 2017. Queer Game Studies. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

Sharp, J., Thomas, D., 2019. Fun, taste, & games: an aesthetics of the idle, unproductive, and otherwise playful, Playful thinking. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.


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