The 13th International Conference on the Art, Technology and Theory of Digital Games will be back in the fall of 2022. Please save the date: September, 28-30!

For everyone who wants to join us for the 13th edition of the conference, detailed information on program and speakers will be published later this summer. You are also very much invited to contribute to the conference by answering the Call for Papers for the Young Academics Workshop.

The deadline for this call for papers has been extended!

Young Academics Workshop
Deadline: June, 30 → Call for Papers [pdf]

Clash of Realities 2021 | 11th & 12th edition

The 11th International Conference on the Art, Technology and Theory of Digital Games is a three-part online event! We are now welcoming you to part III, which will take place on November 17, 2021. You find information about the previous parts here and here .

To round things up, the 12th edition of the conference will be held directly after, on November 18-19! It will also take place online.

The Clash of Realities international research conference provides 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.

The 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.

The conference is again co-organized by the Cologne Game Lab, TH Köln – University of Applied Science – and the Department for Media Culture and Theatre at the University of Cologne.

Digital on Vimeo
CET time zone

11th Clash of Realities – Part III
November 17, 2021

12th Clash of Realities
November 18-19, 2021

12th Clash of Realities

On November 18 and 19, the 12th Clash of Realities will present two summits and conclude with the Main Day featuring speakers from various summits.

Each summit offers lectures, panel discussions and/or Q&As.

We are looking forward to welcoming you online!

View Speakers


November 17, 2021
10:00 – 13:30 CET – Cultural Heritage Summit
New Technologies in Cultural Education [more]

15:00 – 19:00 CET – Media Education Summit
(Social, Cultural and Civic) Participation in Virtual Spaces [more]

November 18, 2021
10:00 – 12:15 CET – Game Entrepreneurship Summit
The Realities of Entrepreneurship [more]

15:00 – 20:00 CET – Absurd Games Summit
Absurd Games [more]

November 19, 2021
15:00 – 19:00 CET – Main Day Keynotes

Join the Absurd Games Jam (Nov. 1 - 15, 2021)



Jussi Ängeslevä
Augmenting Reality Reality
November 19 | 15:00 – 16:00 CET
Rilla Khaled
Speculation and Resonation // Designing for Bleed
November 19 | 16:00 – 17:00 CET
Yifat Shaik
Humor, Glitch, Failure or why Goat Simulator is the Monty Python of Videogames
November 19 | 17:00 – 18:00 CET
Alexander R. Galloway
“Debord AI” or How I Modelled Guy Debord’s Brain in Software
November 19 | 18:00 – 19:00 CET


November 17 – 19, 2021 | All times in CET
  • 1. Nov. 17, 2021: 11th Clash Of Realities (Part III)

    Summits: Immersive Gaming x Cultural Heritage & Media Education

  • Using emerging technologies in the context of communication in public space is a balancing act between the hopes and aspirations the new technologies embody in our collective consciousness and the real benefit in communicating the story at hand. It is easy to promote technology for its own sake, instead of deciding it on the merits of its utility. This lecture traces a journey our studio has gone through over the last 20 years in experimenting and developing experiences in augmented reality and building a critical attitude when and where to use it. The focus lies in the substance, and not the technology, where we have always aspired to find the "easiest" and "laziest" way of delivering the best experience.

  • Presentation of the game app "Border Zone" which allows visitors to discover the eventful history of the Babelsberg Park on their own. The virtual connection of past and present through the latest mixed reality technology makes it possible to experience lost or hidden traces of contemporary history. The development of the location-based digital game is a cooperation project between the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation and the Cologne Game Lab that will run until the end of 2021. Using a smartphone or tablet, players explore the effects of the German-German division and the border fortifications on Park Babelsberg on the basis of eyewitness accounts. Short, interactive missions confront them with historical events or personal fates in the former border area. The players learn about important periods in the park's history - from the development of the garden by Peter Joseph Lenné and Prince Pückler to the border period, reunification and the present. With this free Park Game, the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation would like to promote multi-perspective knowledge transfer, enable participation and invite discourse on how to deal with world cultural heritage. An accompanying research program will explore how games can be used sustainably and meaningfully as a new medium of communication in public park spaces.

  • The VR Zeitreise at the Zukunftsmuseum in Nuremberg is both: a permanent installation at the end of the future-oriented exhibition, as well as a research lab for exploring player behavior in VR. The project, a collaboration between the Cologne Game Lab and the Deutsches Museum Nürnberg, offers four players at a time the opportunity to discover a simulation of the future simultaneously, within a freely walkable space. In production, the goal was not only to generate an entertaining and engaging experience, but also to fulfill the museum's didactic mission as well as minimizing access thresholds given the diverse audience. Jonas Zimmer, who led the project, will provide insights into the production and the underlying considerations.

  • The exhibition "Stretching Materialities", conceived and realized within the Cluster of Excellence Matters of Activity, experiments with virtual reality and physical space and intertwines the two. In the impressive rooms of the Tieranatomisches Theater in Berlin, visitors immerse themselves in a virtual reality that is superimposed on the physical one and takes over its geometry. In this way, the virtual space can be freely walked through, virtual objects can actually be touched, and visitors can ride in the virtual elevator to other floors. The complex concept of active matter thus becomes more vivid than ever before. This unique interweaving of virtual and physical space, different tracking technologies and feedback mechanics in an exhibition context was developed in the Object Space Agency project with support from In the lecture, learnings, concept ideas and interdisciplinary work will be presented and reflected.

  • The augmented reality app ARt is the first AR project developed by the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial in terms of content and concept. The time of development was characterized by the discussion of fundamental questions that are specific to memorial site education. In addition to the visitors, the focus was always on the survivors and the descendants of the concentration camp prisoners. Therefore, in addition to the meaningful possibility of integration into the typical course of a visit to the memorial site and the enablement of exploratory learning, the question of how to facilitate individual commemoration or in what way to preserve the dignity of the prisoners portrayed was also important. But principles from the work of memorial sites also had a great influence from the beginning of the decision-making process.For example, an emotional overwhelming of visitors is undesirable, and the aspect of "empathy" also has very narrow limits for obvious reasons.

  • How can digital art promote new narratives for our society? How can digital art make our increasingly complex world comprehensible? What roles can digital artists play in the formation of a future society? What potential does participation have on the way to the future? FUTUR 21 – art industry culture encourages people to think about the future of work, sustainability and the climate crisis, the impact of digitalization, and the limits of growth and consumption. At 16 industrial museums in North Rhine-Westphalia, the cradle of industrial culture in Germany, digital artworks, light installations, immersive games and spatial interventions will be created from November 2021 to March 2022. FUTUR 21 combines theory and research with artistic practice with a special focus on digital art and narratives. The project brings together the future of society with the past of former industrial sites. Where once workers stood behind the looms, visitors interact with creative artificial intelligence. Where paper was once made from wood, artistic visions of a resource-conserving future are emerging. Between November 2021 and March 2022, 32 international and local media artists, designers, and game developers will transform the industrial museums into temporary laboratories of the future. 16 temporary and 16 permanent art works take a visionary, utopian, or critical look at the future. At each of the 16 industrial museums of the LVR and LWL, FUTUR 21 will addresses the pressing questions of today and tomorrow.

  • Since nowadays the meta process of digitalization is initiating changes in a great variety of areas, the German education system is also confronted with the challenge to keep pace. With regard to this, implementing software into school classes is a popular trend, e.g. in order to expand the repertoire of teaching methods and to meet the customs and needs of students. There is, however, still a lack of empirical studies investigating the outcome of such attempts. Therefor, we examined the educational potential of a specific app usable for teaching history.With the location-based augmented reality app Porta Praetoria C.C.A.A., users may discover the Roman roots of the city of Cologne using a playful approach. The app was developed at the Cologne Game Lab (CGL) in cooperation with the Roman-Germanic Museum Cologne. In our talk, we will introduce the evaluation we carried out when the prototype of the app was play-tested. The evaluation aimed on gathering exploratory impressions of two issues: the extent to which the software was working flawlessly in the current prototype stage and whether the game design and content are useful to reach the educational goals as planned by the CGL project team. In order to find out, an evaluative study with two student test groups was carried out, including surveys, focus group interviews and ethnographically accompanied play-testing experiences. In our talk, we will present and discuss the whole evaluation process including the selection of methods, the execution and the results.

  • In this conversation, we explore ways to develop anti-racist literacy in games education. How can we start talking about race and racism in relation to gaming? How can we identify, analyse and dismantle colonial legacies, including racism, in game culture? What does an anti-racist game culture look like? The talk aims to open a dialogue around these issues, meeting half-way between the speakers’ various perspectives and racial experiences as an Afro-Brazilian activist media scholar (Dr. Leonardo Custodio) and a white Austrian games scholar (Dr. Sabine Harrer).

  • For Melanie accessible gaming is obviously quite important because she is a disabled gamer herself. Accessibility in games has become a viral topic in the last few years and we are going to take a look at what has changed and what still has to change – and why you should care too. Join in for a chance to listen to someone with lots of first hand experience (and maybe ask some questions).

  • In these 15-minute talks, students aged 15-26 will discuss the topic of participation in virtual spaces from their unique perspectives: From game development to Twitch streaming, from playing games to stay in touch with friends to using them in the context of social work. Speakers: Hannah Rodenbüsch, "How Animal Crossing Helped us Cope with the 2020 Lockdown" Aiden W. Hannah Isabelle Goltsche, "Einsatzmöglichkeiten von Digitalen Spielen in der Sozialen Arbeit" Luca M., Ramón K., Lena W., "Styxcon: From Academy to Indie-Developers"

  • Diversity has been misused and muddled down to a useless buzzword with no teeth or power. To affect real change, we need to be inclusive and equitable, rather than settling for diversity. A brief discussion on why inclusion is a better way, and how we can all benefit from that being the default.

  • How and what we play says a lot about who we are. Where we play says a lot about who we think we can be. The Skins game-making workshops have been running for the last decade in Canada and Hawai'i. They have a twofold objective: (a) to foster a supportive environment for Indigenous folks who seek to learn game making (b) to firmly claim presence of Indigenous voices and perspectives in game spaces, that provide rich, materialised visions of Indigenous Futures. At the end of these workshops, participants produce a game. But beyond this, what is the work being achieved during – and after – these workshops? And how do we navigate participation when we are not from the communities whom we are seeking to support? I will do a deep dive into two iterations of Skins held during 2017 and 2018 in O'ahu, Hawai'i, resulting in the games He Ao Hou and Wao Kanaka. I will bring you behind the scenes into our workshop, I will unravel some of the knots that turn up in culture to game transmediation, and I will show you the long tail of the workshops that continues extending into today.

  • 2. Nov. 18, 2021: 12th Clash of Realities

    Summits: Media Entrepreneurship & Absurd Games

  • The quote “Straight roads don’t make skillful drivers” by Paulo Coelho is a perfect summary of the entrepreneurial experience. Building a successful and profitable business is never easy but the fulfillment that it can bring is unmatched. Newzoo was founded in 2007 by Peter Warman and Thijs Hagoort, who had very different careers and skills but a common passion for the games business. Serving this fast-growing and ever-changing business put additional pressure on the pace of innovation, while organizational growth required structure and process. Today, Newzoo has more than 100 employees and is considered the market leader in games trends, data, and analytics. It serves the most disruptive games, tech, and media companies in the world. Many pivots, gut-instinct decisions, and moments of pure luck helped pave Newzoo’s path to success. In this session, Newzoo’s Co-Founder and CEO Peter Warman will share these pivotal moments, his view on balancing innovation and structure, and his ten key learnings from being an entrepreneur in games.

  • Enterpreneurial Mindset within big organizations and companies. Strengths, opportunities, threats and experiences on the example of MagentaGaming. How to drive StartUp Culture within oversized process driven environments? And what does COVID19 to enterpreneural acting? A summary of two years of virtual product development and organization shaping – or: how to make the elephant dance.

  • How can we enforce systemic change by setting new industry standards in the gaming sector and therefore in the next generation of companies that will shape our future? Philippe Singer is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Leaders for Climate Action (LFCA), a community of entrepreneurs united by the will to counter the climate crisis through their own actions and demand more effective legislation from policy makers. Their vision is to make the digital industry take climate action worldwide and set an example for other industries. By talking Leader to Leader, they drive impactful action as they truly feel their responsibility of protecting life on this planet for future generations. Listen to Philippe Singer's talk where he describes how measuring, reducing and compensating one’s carbon footprint can change the whole organization as well as its entire sector.

  • During her keynote lecture, media artist Angela Washko will present several different strategies for performing in and transforming online environments that are especially hostile toward women, trans, and non-binary people. She will additionally discuss her independent video game projects which propose new approaches to critical storytelling, perspective, and representation in video games.

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  • The right title for a project can feel like a spell, communicating a story, tone and intention to both audience and team in a few simple words. In this talk, award-winning creator Xalavier Nelson Jr. will discuss the processes used to choose the names for his own absurd games, and how those names ended up guiding the projects they were attached to. The name of a project doesn’t have to be perfect—it only requires a knowledge of self, and a willingness to get *weird* to capture your ideals for the bold new vision you want to bring to the world.

  • Contemporary games are about pleasing the player. Even skill-demanding titles are that way to fulfill users' needs. An abusive game design attitude challenges this approach and puts the creator and the user on the same level. Gameplays become a place of dialogue. In my presentation, I show that the Fantastic Fetus game, crafted within the abusive game design spirit, can be an example for discussing different ways of understanding game design philosophy.

  • There's a lot of information out there if you want to learn or know about what causes "flow", what a game loop is, or how to keep people coming back. This talk will discuss why these aren't a necessity for games. Crawford will discuss points in some of their projects that tackle this through their years of personal experience, as well as what "flow" is and how it can be irrelevant to the end goal of a game.

  • 3. Nov. 19, 2021: 12th Clash of Realities

    Main Day

  • How will the augmentation of reality affect our general perception of the real? And what role does the field of aesthetic representation have in this? - With a special focus on the mediation of cultural heritage in public space, Jussi Ängeslevä will discuss the complex relationship between the virtual and the real and the technological implications behind it. In doing so, he will trace the journey his studio ART+COM has taken over the past 3 decades in researching and developing spatial new media experiences.

  • Within LARP circles, the concept known as "bleed" is about carryover of experience between play and normal life. It is often considered a problem: play that resonates with us too much. Simultaneously, serious and learning game designers run into a related but different problem: limited carryover between play and normal life. This is play that resonates with us too little. In this talk, I will argue for why game and playful designers should embrace bleed as a design tool, and leverage it consciously and conscientiously. Play that resonates appropriately. I will bring it all to life via two large ongoing projects: Speculative Play, which is about the middle space between speculative/critical design and interactive playful media, and the Skins workshops, which take place in the context of the Initiative for Indigenous Futures project. What both these projects have in common is that they require playful, playable translations of speculative futures, and invite the resonation of their design experiences. The last part of this talk will merge into a design activity, where audience members will partake in a short exercise for designing for bleed in light of their lived experiences and realities.

  • I am here to advocate on behalf of the ridiculous through the exploration of game glitches and the use of humor and comedy as tools of cultural subversion. This talk will highlight means of players’ self-expression in the game world and how those can be used to subvert existing game systems and as a tool of rebellion against oppressive trends, tropes and negative exclusionary behaviors that permeate the game industry. Touching on concepts like ‘the presentation of self”, theories of humor, the use humor as a tool of resistance and incorporation of artistic movements (like Dada and Surrealism) in game design. The talk will try to demonstrate how we can use humor, glitches and mods to create better games. I will specifically try to explore how underrepresented groups have or can use those to create an alternative way to play and create games and how game developers can (and should) leverage those concepts to make better games and to promote diversity in creators and their creation.

  • Several years ago I stumbled on a strange episode from the history of gaming. In 1978 Guy Debord, the notorious French author and filmmaker, designed and released a game called The Game of War. With my interest piqued by this unusual discovery, I decided to research Debord's game and port it to the computer. A number of steps were necessary in developing the game software, including designing the game model, pathfinding, and, perhaps most important, the AI needed for single-player mode. This talk will focus on the game's "Debord AI," or how I modelled Guy Debord's brain in software.

Our Speakers

Speakers of the Clash of Realities 2021

Register Now

Experience the conference wherever you are. Register for online access and tune in live for the keynotes and summits. Registration will open at midnight, Nov. 1.


Program Board & Team Clash of Realities 2021

Contact | Press

TH Koeln
Cologne Game Lab
Schanzenstraße 28
51063 Cologne

Press Contact:
Laura Frings
Phone: +49 221-8275 4296

For further questions and information concerning the Clash of Realities Conference please contact us below.


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