For the tenth time, the Clash of Realities international research conference is providing the opportunity for interdisciplinary exchange and dialogue. Experts from the academy, science and research, economics, politics, and the game industry will discuss pressing questions concerning the artistic design, technological development, and social perception of digital games, as well as the spreading of games literacy.
This conference welcomes scholars, social scientists, game developers, specialists in education and media, up-and-coming creative talents, students, and all those interested in and excited by digital games.
More than 50 international speakers from the academy, science and research, economics, politics and the game industry along with an enthusiastic audience will convene at the Cologne Game Lab, TH Köln – University of Applied Science, a pillar of interdisciplinary exchange and dialogue.
The conference kick-off including the opening keynote will be followed by a day of summits featuring talks, project presentations, panel discussions, and workshops. Finally, the main day of the Clash of Realities will feature renowned speakers from all around the globe.
As part of the tenth anniversary edition, the conference will also host the interactive touring exhibition „Games Culture in Germany. Milestones“ by the Computerspielemuseum, which presents a selection of milestones in German games culture.
We are looking forward to welcoming you to the Cologne Game Lab of TH Köln in November 2019.
November 19, 2019 – Conference Opening
• Young Academics Workshop: Games, Play, Mental Health [more]
• Conference Opening Event featuring a keynote by Jörg Friedrich as well as a theatrical performance by the European Ensemble G.I.F.T.
November 20, 2019 – Summit Day
• Game Studies Summit: Paratextualizing Games [more]
• Media Education Summit: Digital Games and Children [more]
• Game Development Summit: Strange Worlds – About Spatial Experiences in Digital Games [more]
• History in Games Summit: Contingencies of an Authentic Past [more]
• Film and Games Summit: Crossing Boundaries in Narrative [more]
November 19 – 21, 2019 – Interactive touring exhibition by the Computerspielemuseum
• Games Culture in Germany. Milestones [here]
How games trivialize fascism, why this should concern us and how we could change it.
This lecture aims to shed light on the long and pop culturally interwoven history of digital games, historical fascism and authoritarian thinking.
It will show how the way historical Fascism is portrayed in video games is often dangerous and wrong, why we need to change it and how this can be achieved.
1. How it is wrong
Most games fail on a fundamental level when they portray historical Nazism because they are:
– Reducing historical fascism to the military aspects of World War Two
– Skipping the slow rise of authoritarianism in the early 1930ies
– Using tropes like the “brave and honourable German soldier in WW2”
– Repeating and imitating fascist aesthetics
– Leaving out the persecution and murder of Jews and other groups
2. Why this should bother us
As game developers we should realize that our creations form and change human culture.
– Neo-Nazis build their communities around games that don’t challenge their revisionist histories.
– Gamer Gate worked as a blueprint for later similar Alt-Right and Pro-Trump-groups.
– Games must learn to deal with critical topics responsibly if they want to be equally valuable as movies or books.
3. How to change it
Games need to take responsibility when portraying such critical parts of history as the historical Nazi-Fascism:
– Developers need to look out for different views outside of war and military.
– We need to incorporate civilian perspectives and destinies into our game medium
– We carefully choose our aesthetics and avoid fascist tropes and aesthetics.
– Taking a stance – Making games post Christchurch – there is no neutral stance when it comes to hate.
On the occasion of the Bauhaus 100th anniversary, the Goethe-Institut presents Virtual Bauhaus, an exhibition on the German school of art and design using the medium of virtual reality. Taking place within the school building in Dessau, constructed in 1925–26 according to designs by the school’s first director Walter Gropius, Virtual Bauhaus offers visitors a one-of-a-kind experience, transporting them into the architectural space of the building as it existed in the 1920s. Through this immersive environment visitors explore the school’s central ideas through encounters with its architecture, people and objects.
The project was created by Cologne Game Lab commissioned by Goethe Institut Boston. From the first feasibility study in 2017 until its release in 2019 the application went through serveral stages of development. The project lead and artist Ilja Burzev will talk about the creation process of this interactive exhibition.
„Beethoven – Follow the Music“ is an AR game in which you trace the melodies of various Beethoven pieces through the movements of your phone.
After winning the Beethoven-themed Game Jam held at Cologne Game Lab in early 2019, creative director Yasaman Farazan and her team collaborated with Massive Miniteam to further develop the prototype for the public-broadcasting institution WDR. The full release will be this December on Google Play and the iOS Appstore to celebrate the 250th birthday of Beethoven in 2020.
In this mid-mortem a few weeks before release, producer Milan Pingel will interview Yasaman Farazan about the challenges encountered when developing a game about experiencing classical music. Together, they will take a deep dive into the design process of the game and elaborate on the iteration of visual feedback mechanisms, tools design and user feedback testing by showing elements and pictures from various stages of the development process.
Questions from the audience are very welcome and everyone is invited to try out the game after the talk!
‘Not Game Footage’, ‘Coming soon’, ‘only on selected platforms’. These phrases often found within paratextual promotion serve to create a distinction between the (forthcoming) text, and the (present) paratext. Yet as media scholars elsewhere have noted, product experience is multifaceted, and can begin prior to, and separate from the text itself (Chin & Gray; 2001, Heath 1977). Our awareness of texts, including videogames, is heavily mediated, curated and framed by a promotional and paratextual surround – as Consalvo noted, gameplay ‘does not exist in a vacuum’ (2007, 176).
Elsewhere, Couldry (2000) has called for definitions of the text to extend beyond the boundaries of finite individual elements, into that which audiences consider to be a discrete unified whole. This throws the onus of textual definition onto the perceived relationship between different elements and offering up the possibility of considering the game text as an assemblage of textual experiences, echoing the work of T.L Taylor (2009). Yet despite developments to the paratextual ontology debate in other fields, game studies scholars still frequently affirm a binary between text and paratext.
By focusing on game trailers, this paper explores the ways in which paratexts present, and represent the game itself. It draws on the work of Genette (1987), Johnston (2009), Gray (2010), Vollans (2014; 2017), and Barker (2017) to synthesise a framework grounded within examples that better allow us to see how these trailers function at an intertextual level, and offers audience-centred consideration of textual experiences.
Ultimately, this paper argues that game paratexts are as much a part of the game as the act of play, and that just as games are an assemblage, so too are they an assemblage of textual experiences. It resultantly makes the case for a dedicated shift in games studies to explore the textual assemblage rather than paratextual divide.
The gaming industry dedicates entire research departments to the development of its scenarios, which are based on examples from architecture and urban planning. But even though the industry spends millions on exploring realistic qualities, most elaborate productions merely offer a montage of selected, formal fragments, which may be indebted to a composition of the real, but which fail to stage its inner logic. At the same time, amazingly few game productions dedicate themselves to their own research on spatial qualities in the virtual.
The architectural perspective, on the other hand, shows increasing interest in game design, but neglects to even perceive the sets of rules that exist there. However, without this prerequisite it is impossible to reveal the relationship between functional conditions and spatial order in game spaces. Architecture and urban planning are becoming aware of game engines and of augmented or virtual realities, but they mostly use such technologies for illustrations with glossy renderings. Compared to architectural designs from decades ago, such contributions are far from opening themselves to narrative and utopian qualities.
The frequently assumed proximity between architectural spaces in reality and their virtual counterparts in video games is based on false assumptions. It is grounded on a selective and superficial discussion, which overlooks the thematic core of the other discipline, while the graphic output obscures the potential of virtual reality as a fantastic medium. Misinterpretations and misunderstandings, but also creative lethargies define the image that the developers of real and virtual space have of one another. At the same time, the results of photorealistic representations are so impressive that they become guiding images in the discussion of how space can even be depicted at all. A strange hybrid arises from the use of functionless bits and pieces of the respective other discipline: if real constructions are called “architecture,” these results could instead be described as “architectoids”.
The talk references the publication “Architectonics of Game Spaces. The Spatial Logic of the Virtual and Its Meaning for the Real.”, edited by Andri Gerber and Ulrich Götz.
Authenticity seems to be the new watchword. People seem to crave for the authentic, the authentic experience almost everywhere, especially on all levels of mediated reality and consumption, be it food, dress fashion or the latest TV-show with celebrities or those who wish to be one using various media-to let the public into their private homes and lives (actually what is staged as such).
Expectations of authentic experiences are just as high when directed towards present-day lives as they are towards encounters with the past. Regardless of whether people stroll around an open-air museum or are chauffeured through ‚historical parts‘ of the town, whether they watch a historical drama on TV or play a videogame with a historical setting: The expectation of authenticity, allowing for the highest degree of immersion, is always present.
The talk is to discuss the meaning of authenticity of the past in videogames, seen against this background of a general craze for the authentic today. What does authenticity actually mean: for game-developers and within the game, for gamers, for the media in general? Does authenticity correspond with realism in a game? The talk will present categories or patterns of staging authenticity in videogames in order to show the variety of history(ies) they already provide and the needs they actually fulfill.
Looking at the public as the scientific debate, there is a controversial discussion about the use of digital media in early childhood. While one side vehemently argues against smartphones and tablets, the other side sees no greater risk for children from the age of two onwards, if they use digital media appropriately. The latter even argue that certain applications could be well used by children 18 months and older. The question that arises from developmental psychology as well as from media education is whether children in or from this age on are able to use applications on a computer and tablet sensibly at all.
We will present an experimental study about the navigation behaviour in tablet applications of children aged between two and six years. The children were presented with both known and unknown applications. Their navigation behaviour was recorded by screen recording, video recording and eye tracking. In addition, the children were asked about their understanding of the application. Their use of media in a family context was determined through oral interviews with a parent. The research question relates to the public and professional discussion as to the age at which children can use digital media sensibly and develop an understanding of its contents. The first results with eight children from the age group mentioned above show that younger children are already able to develop a good understanding and appropriate navigation behaviour.
In this presentation, I will share some of the insights I have gained from undertaking various research projects about children and Virtual Reality. Specifically, I will draw on three studies in this area and share key findings that have specific implications for how we design and think about this technology for younger users. The first is a commercially funded project, undertaken as part of my work for Dubit (https://www.dubitlimited.com/) a company specialising in strategy, research and development of digital media for children. The study known as the CVR report (http://childrenvr.org/) was undertaken at the dawn of this latest wave of VR, and provides initial insight into how children interact with a range of virtual content on both low and top-end Head Mounted Displays. This study also provides insights into health and safety aspects of using VR with under 12-year-olds. The presentation will then go on show how the CVR study provided some interesting insight into the role of physical materials in children’s virtual play. This will lead to sharing details of a second project that was part of a large-scale EU study on how children can use makerspaces and Fablabs to create with and for VR. This was a collaborative study with Glück Workshops and Vaikai in Berlin, as part of the wider MakEY project (https://makeyproject.eu/). Finally, I will share some insights from my most recent AHRC/ ESRC funded network which has been exploring location-based VR experiences for children in the UK and Japan.
-Yamada-Rice, D., Mushtaq, F., Woodgate, A., Bosmans, D, Douthwaite, A, Douthwaite, I, Harris, W, Holt, R, Kleeman, D, Marsh, J, Milovidov, E, Mon Williams, M, Parry, B, Riddler, A, Robinson, P, Rodrigues, D, Thompson, S and Whitley, S, (2017), Children and Virtual Reality: Emerging Possibilities and Challenges. Avaliable online at http://childrenvr.org.
-Yamada-Rice, D., Rodrigues, D. & Zubrycka, J. (in press) Makerspaces and Virtual Reality Chapter 9. In: Marsh, J. Enhancing digital Literacy and Creativity. Routledge
UK-Japan VR Network: https://ukjapanvr.wordpress.com/
Participation Design Agency creates high end bespoke roleplaying experiences allowing participants to step into physically realized storyworlds as fully fledged characters. Narrative design for larp centers on two core challenges: how to give participants a sense of total freedom, and how to give them the alibi – the social permission – to participate in activities, try experiences, or engage in playful behaviours that in their daily life they would not.
In this talk, Johanna Koljonen will discuss how these challenges are resolved, and the potential of the medium in relation to brand and IP activation, digital games writing and VR. Among the case studies are a three day Hamlet at the actual Castle Elsinore, and a vampire diplomacy game played at the European Parliament with actual MEPs as participants.
Nearly from the earliest beginnings, videogames have toyed with history. They have done so for many reasons, with history being full of stories to be transferred into game plots, full of opportunities for players to enter into and interact with it as an attractive playground, and its potential to be turned into a recognizable feature allowing for the creation and marketing of games with historic settings as the key to branding. The past that is showcased today has become remarkably diverse, not only in the range of historic events, characters, epochs covered but in the ways that these are presented through a game’s narration, visual, auditory and material features as well as its gameplay.
However, history in videogames today still has its shortcomings. The history they present is popular history, much the same as that the audience encounters in other popular media. Nonetheless, videogames can achieve much more than film, omic or other bestselling media due to their interactive qualities. They can and hould be more adventurous in dealing with the past.
The keynote is to highlight the evolution of the games‘ usage of history to the present state of the art in this and to sensitize for their potential in simulating history as a process and in so doing in moving with the general trend even further away from mere facts towards an image of much more diverse, open (less linear) and controversial past realities
Program Board & Team Clash of Realities 2019
Since 2018 the conference has expanded its network and collaborated with the A MAZE. / Berlin – International Games and Playful Media Festival as well as the Quo Vadis – game development & business conference, both integral parts of gamesweekberlin.
Clash of Realities at Quo Vadis [more]
Game Design as Gardening
Clash of Realities at A.MAZE [more]
Cologne Game Lab (Conference Location)
Phone: +49 221 8275 – 4044
For further questions and information concerning the Clash of Realities Conference please contact us below.