Slide

About

The 13th International Conference on the Art, Technology and Theory of Digital Games will be back for one last time in the fall of 2022 on September, 28-30!

The conference started in 2006 as a forum for transferring knowledge from research to politics and the public, focusing on media-pedagogical issues. Over the years, we added a variety of summits on different topics, such as Game Studies, Game Development, and Film & Games. Looking back on 12 conference editions within the last 16 years, we are proud to have turned the conference into a thriving outlet for ideas from different disciplines. At the Clash of Realities, theory and practice come together, enriching each other and offering opportunities for interdisciplinary exchange and dialogue.

Sadly, all good things have to come to an end someday. The good news is that we were able to attract a star line-up for the 2022 farewell conference: Among the 50 renowned international experts from academia, science & research, economics, politics, and the game industry are Tracy Fullerton (University of Southern California), Frans Mäyrä (Tampere University), Janet Murray (Georgia Institute of Technology), Nathalie Pozzi (Parsons School of Design), and Eric Zimmerman (New York University) and many more! Some will join us on-site at the CGL, and some will contribute online.

For everyone who wants to join us for this last edition of the conference, be it online or on-site, we look forward to meeting you and experiencing the unique Clash of Realities spirit one last time!

WHERE
Cologne Game Lab
Schanzenstr. 28
51063 Cologne

+ keynotes live streamed

WHEN
13th Clash of Realities
September 28-30, 2022
CET time zone


Summits

September 28, 2022 – CGL, Cologne
10:00 – 16:30 CET – Young Academics Workshop [more] + Zoom
10:00 – 16:45 CET – Film & Games Summit [more] + Zoom


September 29, 2022 – CGL, Cologne
10:00 – 16:30 CET – Game Studies Summit [more] + Afternoon on Vimeo
10:00 – 16:30 CET – Games & Climate Summit [more] + Zoom


September 30, 2022 – CGL, Cologne
10:00 – 16:30 CET – Game Development Summit [more] Only on site
09:15 – 15:30 CET – Games & Psychology Summit [more] + Zoom


Keynotes & Events

Sept. 28, 2022 – CGL, Cologne

  • Keynote: Eric Zimmerman | + Vimeo
  • Graduation Ceremony & Celebration
    Guest Speaker: Nathalie Pozzi & Eric Zimmerman | + Vimeo

Sept. 29, 2022 – CGL, Cologne

  • ImTech4Ed Hackathon
  • Keynote: Kelli Dunlap | + Vimeo
  • Keynote: Tracy Fullerton | + Vimeo
  • Conference Dinner

Sept. 30, 2022 – CGL, Cologne

  • ImTech4Ed Hackathon
  • Keynote: Frans Mäyrä, Olli Sotamaa, Usva Friman | + Vimeo


Join the ImTech4Ed-HACKATHON

Get on board!

Keynote Speakers

live streamed on eventbrite
Eric Zimmerman
The Rules We Break –
Lessons in Thinking, Play, and Design
September 28 | 17:15 – 18:00 CET
Kelli Dunlap
Creating an Ethical Code for Designing Psychological Trauma Games
September 29 | 17:15 – 18:00 CET
Tracy Fullerton
Indie, Art, and Edu:
The Changing Seasons of “Walden, a Game”
September 29 | 18:00 – 19:00 CET
Frans Mäyrä & Olli Sotamaa & Usva Friman
The Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies
September 30 | 17:15 – 18:45 CET

Conference Highlights

Joanne Popińska
Staying True to an Impactful Vision in Immersive Storytelling

Young Academic Workshop – September 28 | 13:35 CET
Stefan Werning
How Creative Metagaming Practices Can Augment Climate Communication and Action
Games & Climate Summit – September 29 | 10:05 CET
Jesse Schell
The Metaverse: What’s Now, What’s Next

Game Studies Summit – September 29 | 14:30 CET
Janet Murray
The Never-Ending Imitation Game. Or: An Earthling’s Guide to Yet-Another-Metaverse
Game Studies Summit – September 29 | 15:30 CET

and many more…

Timetable

September 28 – 30, 2022 | All times in CET
  • 1. Wed

    Young Academics Workshop

  • 2. Wed

    Film & Games

  • 3. Thu

    Game Studies

  • 4. Thu

    Games & Climate

  • 5. Fr

    Game Development

  • 6. Fr

    Games & Psychology

  • 7. Keynotes & Events

    Wed - Fr

  • Short presentation of YAW topic & speakers.
    Where
    Room 211

  • Only recently, video games seem to have started experimenting more frequently with mundane settings, consequently allowing authentic adolescent matters to be tackled. Therefore, they finally join common youth media in their portrayal of young heroes and heroines seeking their identities by adapting their own interactive version of the coming-of-age genre.

    However, as the medium is still largely considered a male space in terms of its creators and audience, representation of female adolescents in video games is not only scarce in comparison with other youth media, but also its authenticity can vary greatly depending on developer, target group and genre. Heavily summarised, adolescent girls are either in constant need of protection by a playable father figure and pose as the palpable embodiment of the player’s moral compass in shooters, or, if they are playable characters, fulfil or forcefully deny prejudices in interactive movies or fiction. At the same time, even well-meant representation of gaming girls in youth media is oftentimes limited to female adolescents who appear as the stereotypical unlike other girls-character, ultimately reinforcing the concept of video games as a boyish medium, and thus rendering girls as outsiders or intruders. From the perspective of the gaming community, debates such as #GamerGate, the harassment or humiliation by elevation of young female players and review bombings in case of supposedly unlikable female characters, have proven this sentiment to be still very much prevalent. Even more precarious, this stance might delay positive change and authentic portrayal.

    Going forward, how can this tension between female adolescence and boyish medium be resolved from the perspective of youth media, media studies and fan discourse? What should future authentic representation look like and how can it be achieved despite the repercussions? And, most importantly, how could medium and audience benefit from this?
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom (speaker not on site)

  • Naughty Dog’s 2020 major release The Last of Us Part II builds on its predecessor’s aim to explore queer narratives and characters. Controversially, the game features a cutscene in which a newly introduced character, a muscular, gender-non-conforming woman named Abby, kills Joel, the male hero of The Last of Us and father figure to the main character, Ellie. This plot device was quickly interpreted by some audiences as the symbolic annihilation of the white, heterosexual patriarch by a ‘monstrous’ woman. They ‘review bombed’ the game and expressed their contempt, particularly for having to play as Abby, through a plethora of memes and videos.

    This presentation starts by investigating why Abby specifically became ‘memefied’ as the ultimate villain and how her womanhood was rendered abject, paying particular attention to the role of transmisogynistic affect. Analyzing discussions of The Last of Us Part II on Reddit and YouTube through a lens of queer theory and critical heterosexuality studies, I explore how gender and sexuality are policed in user-generated online cultures. I will talk about the gamification of online hate speech; or how gendered desires are playfully choreographed by making a game of misogyny.

    In particular, I discuss the paradoxical relationship between players’ desires for female representation and the simultaneous disgust and hatred of female avatars. Why do users express a deep-seated desire for particular, gendered experiences of play? What is desirable about ‘playing straight’, or embodying the male, masculine, white hero? This talk also workshops how gender in the game is racialized and asks to what extent the backlash against The Last of Us Part II can be explained by anxieties regarding its exploration of post-apocalyptic, queer kinship and cross-race modes of survival.
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom

  • Have you noticed that in games it is usually up to the father figures to save or avenge (their) children? When women appear as mothers in games, they have a difficult position, because the heroic role as protagonist is rarely granted to them. In some games, they are already long dead at the beginning of the game's storyline and thus no longer present. In other cases, they are relegated to an unimportant supporting role that is neither significant for the narrative nor for the game's progress. If they have a greater importance in the game plot, it seems, they fill the less glorious roles as damsel in distress or, at the other extreme, as the evil mother.
    In this contribution I want to show two examples of mothers in games, taking a closer look at Sophia Lamb from Bioshock 2 (2010) and Kara from Detroit Become Human (2018). While Sophia Lamb, in her desire to build utopia, used her own daughter Eleanor for psychological experiments, stands for an evil matriarch, the humanoid android Kara appears as a protector and as caring for Alice, although difficult topics such as domestic violence are also addressed in her role. In doing so, connections to medially and historically shaped images of mothers will be made and an analysis of the respective mother figure, on a visual and narrative level, will take place.
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom

  • Mystery and crime fiction have always been popular genres in video games. Among the many games with a plot hinging upon the investigation of a crime, it can be said that there is no total lack of representations of women as criminals and/or investigators. However, the two games published in the past few years, Her Story (2015) and Overboard! (2021), take an unorthodox approach to both whodunnits and the role of female characters within them. Both games have female characters as the perpetrator and the investigator of the crime, and in both cases, the story of the crime is only told from a woman’s perspective. Particularly because of the duality of their roles and perspectives, the women in these two games are multidimensional protagonists, as opposed to those who are secondary characters portrayed as damsels in distress, or nurturing and redeeming figures in many other video games. While the contrast between the roles of women in these titles is especially noteworthy, analyses of female video game characters, especially those controlled by players, are crucial to understand how representations of gender within the medium have been changing and can change in the future.

    In this talk, I aim to contribute to the debate surrounding present and future representations of women within contemporary video games by taking a close look into the female protagonists in Her Story and Overboard!. As the selected titles are both detective games, I will also discuss the relationship between the portrayal of these female characters and the gameplay elements. In order to do this, I will use Clara Fernández Vara’s critical analysis of game design in the Sherlock Holmes video game series 1 and make a comparison between the character actions in the series with the iconic male detective and the two games my paper focuses on.
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom

  • The field of female representation has been thoroughly investigated in the last decades. Taking those investigations as a basis, specifically the one conducted by Erving Goffman when studying advertisement, I would like to bring this discussion to the discipline of game design. More than character design or narrative aspects, I want to analyze how the mechanics, gameplay, and player experience are designed for female characters.

    In his studies, Goffman, coined seven categories in an attempt to show how women were portrayed in advertising. The idea here is to adapt those categories to game design aspects, thus achieving a comprehensive summary of how female characters are designed in games, as much as Goffman did for advertising. The study will also help to understand how games remediate advertising in those aspects, by examining if Goffman’s findings are reflected in game design.
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom

  • Sheroes in Games. Girls designing digital games: networking, training, advocacy is a two years work-in-progress project (Nov 2020 - Nov 2022) that aims to bridge the gender gap in videogames addressing the necessity of working towards a more inclusive videogame industry in three main areas: content, production and environment. For this we understand that it is mandatory to engage girls and their families before entering college in order to show them that videogames can be a career option and that their participation and voice is crucial if we want to build a better and mature industry, more diverse, egalitarian and richer in content.

    We created a community of practice (CoP) to promote the transfer and amplification of knowledge building in an open and collaborative way. To encourage knowledge sharing across different countries, we designed and built a toolkit in the format of a semantic wiki that we named: Sheroes in Games wiki. There we gathered the different aspects that are needed to be taken into account when designing educational activities for young girls and the particular need of building lobby strategies that demonstrates the impact on girls of the current state of the games industry when it comes to gender equity and women representation.

    This paper summarizes the results of this strategy that generates spaces to encourage concrete solutions based on the transfer of knowledge to eliminate gender inequality in the disciplinary field of video games, in addition to proposing possible alternatives to generate the sustainability of a CoP that provides methodologies to ensure gender equality from education.

    Sheroes is run by the Goethe-Institut in Argentina in partnership with educational institutions, Women in games associations and studios in Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru as well as Venezuela ​​and it is funded by the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany. It began in April 2021 and will finish in November 2022 when it will be officially presented and opened to the public with the hope to keep growing thanks to open collaboration.
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom

  • Awarding-winning XR Director Joanne Popińska will host a lecture about her work in immersive documentary storytelling, with a special focus on how female characters are represented. She will talk about her work, the challenges of being an independent artist in the complex world of XR media, where film, games, and technology collide, and how to stay true to your artistic vision and goals in a field where novelty is overvalued. She will also present and talk about her project The Choice, a VR documentary about maternal health and reproductive rights.
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom

  • YAW 2019-2021 Anthology
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom

  • Short presentation of summit topic & speakers.
    Where
    Open Space

  • Through film, African women have been defined and offered an identity which aligned with men’s taste, an identity described as ‘ideal’, ‘perfect’, ‘acceptable’ and sold to women as ‘cultural’. In contemporary Africa however, women are beginning to question this identity, the struggle for gender equity raising questions about cultural expectations and gender roles/responsibilities.

    This study is interested in discovering how women and feminist filmmakers are unseating existing stereotypes about women and how representations of women in African films are changing. The study argues that by promoting newer, equitable representations for women, the dominant/existing ‘cultural’ identity imbibed can be unlearned and an identity of strength/confidence, rather than subservience/docility could be cultivated.
    Where
    Open Space & via zoom

  • The impact of apartheid on African culture has had an immeasurable consequence on the Identity of the modern-day African. Both Literature and media dating back to the end of the second world war have upheld the ideals of the settlers while the unique nuances of African storytelling were lost. Colonialism’s suppression of oral tradition and practices meant that numerous African mythologies have since been erased or distorted. The post-colonial era we live in today might further threaten the survival of traditional African storytelling techniques through the proliferation of content from the global north.

    Be that as it may, an opportunity has arisen for the modern African storyteller to rekindle the essence of ubuntu by harnessing the possibilities introduced by film, video games, immersive VR experiences and more. The purpose of this presentation is to explore how the African psyche can find a path to realignment with its original and untainted self, by using today’s digital options for storytelling. Since society can mirror literature, an opportunity now exists where greater self-determination can be reached through the elevation of a sophisticated, afro-futuristic, re-imagining of Africa across genres. Case studies can be drawn from the social impact of games developed by Kiro'o Games (2016) and the pan-African graphic novel by Tinodiwa Makoni, entitled Gambanyika (2017).

    This expose seeks to account for the successful uses of new media in Africa as a tool to counter an ever-growing identity crisis and loss of self-determination in this generation of African consumers of pop culture.
    Where
    Open Space & via zoom (speaker not on site)

  • Did Russian population slip into militarist and chauvinist mood occasionaly, or was it groomed into anti-Western and anti-Ukrainian paranoia? Could the West know how strong is this paranoia?

    Many signs point out, that the Russian society was bombarded by sophisticated propaganda for at least 15 years, before it has reached the current state of affairs. Pulp fiction books, movies, even computer games formed a very clear narrative: the evil West has stolen Russia's glory, and it is vital to destroy the world conspiracy against Russia.

    Sergej Sumlenny presents the most stunning cases of the propaganda campaign which Russia run in plain sight but which still remained hidden from the Western analysis.
    Where
    Open Space & via zoom (speaker not on site)

  • “Someone once said that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism.” Frederic Jameson (2003)

    Stories affect the imagination and the collective imaginaries of the potential political horizons. The often-cited dictum “There is no alternative” (TINA) to the current economic and political arrangements can be seen as a control myth in a time which according to Jonah Sachs (2012) has lost its connection to its traditional myths and hence exists in a “myth gap”.

    The increasing political polarization in the (Western) world reflects the absence of a common denominator, nations once described by Benedict Anderson (1983) as “imagined communities” are dissolving into imagined micro-communities with conflicting stories and hence conflicting values. Chantal Mouffe (2005) warned about a political sphere in which the political is played out in moral categories as opposed to being a forum of conflicting alternatives and open debates.

    As Seargeant (2020) pointed out stories are pinned around two emotions: hope and fear. In the current (post) pandemic world dominated by ongoing military confrontations in Europe the dominant emotion for stories is fear.

    More than 500 years ago Thomas More demonstrated with his book “Utopia” that hope for a better society can be articulated in a fictional story and impact social change. In the aftermath of the two World Wars the ideas of blueprint utopias and metanarratives of hope became scrutinized, deconstructed and ultimately rejected by the dominant discourse. If universal utopias have become impractical and discredited intellectual constructs what are the stories that can give a shape to hope? What kind of stories can promote social equality and political alternatives from a consequentialist and from a deontological point of view? This paper will argue that the future stories of hope will be articulated through very specific local contexts, delineate a clear idea of political agency and concrete future images. As Lewis Mumford (1922:184) wrote, underlining the eu-topos (the good place) aspect of Utopia: “It should not surprise us therefore if the foundations for eutopia were established in ruined countries; that is, in countries where metropolitan civilization has collapsed and where all its paper prestige is no longer accepted at paper value.”
    Where
    Open Space & via zoom (speaker not on site)

  • “That’s Not Who We Are”: Self-Formation and Participation Along Life, Narrative, and Story

    From the two premises that life is contingent while stories are plotted (“The story of your life is not your life; it’s your story”—John Barth) and that stories and narratives are not the same thing, the presentation will examine the power of origin stories and cultural narratives for self-formation (psychology), norm reinforcement (social psychology), and political action and participation (sociology).

    Key points:
    - the role of origin stories and narratives to safeguard the past, explain the present, and affirm the future in different times and media
    - the role of stories and narratives as points of origin for social action, both good or bad (e.g., Uncle Tom’s Cabin; The Birth of a Nation)
    - vertical/horizontal clashes for interpretive dominance (»Deutungshoheit«) between origin stories & narratives in diff. media (oral, writing, film, games)
    - strengths & potentials regarding participation: stories (beginnings & endings; self-contained) vs. narratives (ongoing; accommodate many stories)
    - strengths & potentials for self-formation, norm reinforcement, and social action of video games that are
    a) story-driven (strong on cause & effect)
    b) narrative-driven (strong on player-generated experiences) and
    c) contingency-driven (strong on being imitative of life through procedural tools and techniques).

    Where
    Open Space & via zoom

  • All the storytelling skill, experience and craft in the world is not worth much if the story is not burning with the fire of clear vision and deep insight. These are developed in life, not in the writers' room or on a film set.

    We'll be looking into how the vibrancy of our life-experience and the quality of our perception influence the reach, depth and resonance of the stories we create.
    Where
    Open Space & via zoom

  • Short presentation of summit topic & speakers.
    Where
    Open Space

  • With the Metaverse as the new buzzword among tech evangelists and industry’s digital analysts alike, this talk wants to explore the term’s (and concept’s) science-fictional origins: from Vernor Vinge to William Gibson, TRON to The Matrix, and the Other Realm to The Oasis. Science Fiction has many variations of immersive virtual realities and our interactions with them. How we imagine virtual worlds to look, which aspects of reality to mimic, or which additional benefits to provide - all of this is relevant to the current debates about the functions, the politics, the technology, and the social impact that metaversial technology will produce. Analyzing the different incarnations of the Metaverse in SF can thus help us determine the challenges to come.
    Where
    Open Space

  • With the recent advancements in computer graphics, 3D virtual humans reached to a level of very high appearance realism. They take place in a range of applications such as games, chatbots for customer service and finance, simulations for education and healthcare, remote communication and (social) VR. Yet, their interactivity and movement is limited. We as humans are very receptive of non-verbal behaviors when we engage in social and emotional interactions. In order to interact with virtual humans naturally, they should also be equipped with non-verbal communication skills such as facial expressions, gestures and gaze. As they take place in more interactive applications such as the metaverse, the demand to automatically generate their behavior on-the-fly will increase. This talk will discuss the role of AI and machine learning algorithms to generate the behavior and movement of virtual humans. I will present the state-of-the-art and some of our research work on interactive virtual humans.
    Where
    Open Space

  • This talk explores trends in gaming, in particular, the rise of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), which turn unique items and characters into assets. Games are not the only media that have turned to tokenization, but they can add additional value to NFTs (use value). An NFT of a unique sword, for instance, can provide a player with unique skills and benefits in the game. The NFT, in other words, can be deeply embedded in the structure of the game as an interactive medium.

    In this talk, I will show different examples of the tokenization of gaming and also connect this to other trends, such as the creator economy, virtual influencers, and the wider Metaverse, which combines these trends. Ultimately, I argue that the Metaverse is formed by different media, texts, and materialities but should also be studied through the lens of monetization. At its heart, these strategies around tokenization capitalize on the affect and emotions of consumers. While blockchain technology has values such as decentralization and democratization, we should also be wary of the new platform economy that is taking shape around this technology. It comes with new forms of exploitation, bias, and centralization, which promise innovation but require a critical, ethical and social discussion.
    Where
    Open Space

  • Roundtable with summit speakers.
    Where
    Open Space

  • Recent advances in virtual reality, augmented reality, and virtual item authentication have led to some bold claims about a coming change in online digital interaction that some call "the Metaverse". But... what is it exactly?

    In this talk, Jesse Schell explains what new mixed reality innovations are working now, and which ones are likely to make a difference for all of us soon, with a focus on the coming inventions that will make the most impact on how human beings interact with the world and each other.
    Where
    Open Space & live streamed on vimeo (speaker not on site)

  • In honor of the occasion as the last in the distinguished series of Clash of Realities symposia, I offer a highly selective survey of Metaverses past, present, and delusionally future.

    In its current usage “Metaverse” is a commercial play for platform dominance, instantiated by reports of large development budgets and by the ritual release of disappointing futuristic videos. My presentation will offer some comparative visions of immersive alternate universes and explore the intense reservoir of desire that such visions can tap into. What are the components of alternate environments that make for sustained, fascinated, immersion or, more frequently, plummet us back into mere reality?

    I will focus in particular on how the 20th Century reimagined our age-old quest for a meta-sphere in terms of games, and what the current framing implies for the future of digital media.
    Where
    Open Space & live streamed on vimeo (speaker not on site)

  • Short presentation of summit topic & speakers.
    Where
    Room 211

  • This keynote aims to show how critical metagaming practices (Boluk and LeMieux 2018) – i.e. repurposing and ‘recycling’ existing games as material – already tentatively enrich climate communication, specifically the formation of sustainable future imaginaries (Milkoreit 2017), and discusses how these processes could be institutionally supported to increase their societal impact, taking in-game nature photography and game modding as examples.

    Despite the undeniable ambiguities imposed by the carbon footprint of – both analogue and digital – gaming (Abraham 2022), the medium’s potential benefits for understanding and tackling the climate crisis are increasingly being acknowledged by academics (Holzbaur 2001; Chang 2013; Bianchi 2019). However, even though games are allegedly “unfinished media” invite ecological imagination (Bendor 2018, 146), ‘ecogames’ as well as popular games with ecological motifs (e.g. Frostpunk or Spirit Island) or ecology-oriented expansions (e.g. The Sims: Eco Lifestyles) are usually played as ‘products’, which easily induces simulation resignation (Bogost 2008) and limits (co-)creative engagement, i.e. the capacity of these games to address the current “crisis of […] the imagination” (Ghosh 2016, 9).

    The first part of the keynote examines how players are remediating nature photography, an epistemically as well as materially significant eco-practice (Cronin 2011; Drake 2014), in games like Red Dead Redemption 2 or Death Stranding[1], but also acknowledges the creative and institutional constraints that still limit its potential as a replicable heuristic for climate education.

    The second part shifts the focus towards the modification of analogue and digital games to explore ecological motifs, an approach tentatively called ecomodding (Bohunicky 2017; Werning 2021), e.g. in terms of how it facilitates the acquisition and active performance of environmental literacy/ecoliteracy (McBride et al. 2013). It conceptualizes these modifications as part of an ongoing eco-critical discourse between players and developers, and outlines how specifically modifying popular analogue games as boundary objects can harness schools but also families as small-scale “sustainability communit[ies] of practice” (Benn, Edwards, and Angus-Leppan 2013).
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom

  • Are Death Stranding or the Horizon series environmental games? What about Stardew Valley or Sonic: the Hedgehog?

    The way players process information in games, including any potential environmental messages, depends on their experience of the game, their attitudes, moods, or knowledge of the subject. We will look at examples from the mainstream and from the more “niche” areas of specifically environmental games production and try to evaluate their strengths and limitations in intentionally attempting to create reflection on environmental themes. We will also look at games that were not explicitly marketed as environmental, yet they can still be read as such by some and provide meaningful experiences charged with environmental themes.
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom

  • Yes, game developers can help solving Climate change! But where to start? This talk presents a 360 overview at the solutions you can deploy as a game developer at any level, in any game, whether your expertise is in Aesthetics, Narrative, Gameplay or Technology!
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom

  • Designing games is hard. Designing to have an intentional impact on your audience is even harder! In this talk, Trevin York highlights the key lessons he's learned in his last decade of leading design projects for change.
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom

  • Roundtable with summit speakers.
    Where
    Room 211

  • In Richard Powers’ celebrated ecological novel The Overstory a brilliant programmer develops a videogame called Mastery that takes the world by storm. It is wildly popular and earns him millions of dollars. But the programmer is a chasing a more elusive goal than profit. He wants challenge his players: “to learn what the world will bear,” by incorporating planetary ecological limitations and feedback loops.

    Moving from fiction to fact, in this presentation Laura op de Beke explores how contemporary videogames have started doing the same. Laura is a PhD fellow at the University of Oslo where she hopes to defend her dissertation “Anthropocene Temporalities: The Anthropocene as a Structure of Feeling in Popular Gameplay” this winter.
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom

  • The climate report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a joint effort of various scientific disciplines. This, but also many other aspects, make climate science communication a great challenge, especially beyond the public face of climate change. Whether computer games have the potential to make the hidden face of climate change more perceptible is still an open question.
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom

  • Climate change, war, poverty: why and how to avoid dealing with social problems in the same way we got into them. A short account on designing solutions (e.g. games) to tackle contemporary social problems from intellectually more appropriate and more sustainable standpoints.
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom

  • Roundtable with summit speakers.
    Where
    Room 211

  • Short presentation of summit topic & speakers.
    Where
    Open Space

  • Designing adventure games that focus on a strong and meaningful story comes with a specific set of challenges. How can you make sure that the gameplay supports the narrative and that solving puzzles feels like driving the story forward instead of grinding it to a halt?

    In my talk, I will present some of the solutions we developed for our first game Lacuna.
    Where
    Open Space

  • Why do I feel more at home in the world of the Indie Game Sable than in a street or a shop in the Meatverse¹? Sure we know about the fact that we are all world creating but do you really think this is what Josef Beuys wanted to remind us of when saying “Everyone is an artist”? What did you come here for and which game were you told we would play? Does “A Politix for Alienation” sound like bright futures to you? And why the hack do I only find reviews on the game Sable² with people wondering how they enjoyed playing the game but still claiming to know that most players will not like it?

    This lecture is at the same time a live experiment on alternate reality narration and an insight in my theory of activating environments. I will share experiences from my artistic field research on how emancipation and expected self-efficacy relate to environmental and system design in the art of games but also and especially in context of contemporary crises in the design of the rest of the world that surrounds us, may it be digital, physical, metaphysical or fantastic.

    Expanding the possible topic to terms like Magic, Hyperstition, Transition Design or critical design as a new Fluxus-like form or radical artistic protest this lecture aims to inherently re-politize the skills of game design and immersive story telling. The design subject in post-capitalist futures is not the individual consumer anymore, but a group of collaboratively playing entities in editable open worlds and as times ahead promise to be stormy, those of us with immersive story telling skills might need to go beyond disciplines and the myth of any given to collectively transform this world into a more human friendly gameplay again.

    “Work with whatever is at hand” (A Bricoleur)
    “If nature is not fair, change nature” (The Xenofeminst Manifesto - A Politix for Alienation)
    “Hack the planet” (The Internet)

    ¹ Meatverse: Internet slang for physical world.
    ² https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5d71mCqWQ0
    Where
    Open Space

  • AI is becoming more mainstream - meaning there’s a whole new world of easy-to-use tools that writers can experiment with. In this talk, I'll introduce you to experimentation with AI and showcase different explorations you can try to enhance your writing for games. If you want to take things further, you are welcome to attend my 1.5 hour workshop after the talk where we'll get hands-on with several different tools and techniques.
    Where
    Open Space

  • This talk will trace the evolution of the “other” (aliens, robots, and AI,) in science fiction, as well as the evolution of humanity’s attitudes and interactions with those beings.

    Sci-fi, especially stories that feature non-human characters, is ultimately about what makes us human (or not). By examining various sci-fi narratives, this talk seeks to shed light on the question of how humans are different from aliens and robots, and how or why do those differences matter, especially as we head into the future? Finally, the talk will link examples from sci-fi to examples of real-world innovations and advancements that demonstrate various ways science fictional narratives and thought experiments could help us anticipate social, environmental, and even evolutionary challenges, as well as come up with possible solutions.
    Where
    Open Space

  • In this workshop we'll explore what the use of artificial intelligence and procedural generation can bring to creative writing for games. We'll begin with idea generation and then move on to using various interesting exercises and techniques for crafting stories, beautifying phrases, and figuring out just what the hell happens next.

    Please note that this workshop is aimed at curious souls who are willing to dive into the depths and explore together - it's not a lecture. We’ll work hands-on: with your own human subconscious, with artificial intelligence, and with procedural generation. Our aim? To find something transformational and bring it out into the light.

    The Workshop will be held in a "breakout room" parallel to Joelle Renstrom's talk.
    Where
    Open Space

  • Set on a decrepit space station, at the edge of an interstellar capitalist society, Citizen Sleeper casts the player as a "sleeper", a digitised human consciousness in an artificial body, owned by a corporation that wants them back. Thrust amongst the unfamiliar and colourful inhabitants of the Eye, the player must build friendships, earn their keep, and navigate the factions of this strange metropolis, if they hope to survive to see the next cycle.

    In this postmortem, the creator of the game, Gareth Damian Martin, will explore how a focus on narrative, structural and cognitive "gaps" helped them to create a distinctive game centered on the experience of precarity under capitalism. Taking inspiration from tabletop roleplaying games, science-fiction worldbuilding and their own experiences, Damian Martin will detail how they developed a richly immersive universe through a limited set of tools and design elements, over a rapid 2 year development period.
    Where
    Open Space

  • In times of horse-drawn transportation, back in the day, passengers read guide books outlining passing points of interest for entertainment; more recently, in-car entertainment has been connoted with listening to the radio, podcasts, or audio dramas; or playing I Spy With My Little Eye with fellow passengers; or with interacting with games and other media; on a tablet or smartphone, that is.

    In the future, with vehicles transforming into networked, inhabitable, technology-rich computing bots on wheels, the eternal dream of traveling won’t be just about physical mobility any longer - it will involve a rather unique, highly technologized environment in and through which customers can e.g. play, relax, and enter into alternative worlds and fictions.

    In this talk, Steffen will reflect on selected opportunities of this “journeying third space”, where physical and digital travel converge by way of gameful, health and wellbeing experiences... perhaps in the role of an astronaut, or a space-faring alien?
    Where
    Open Space

  • Short presentation of summit topic & speakers.
    Where
    Room 211

  • This talk will offer an overview of current developments in psychological perspectives on video games. A primal focus takes into account the paradigm shift from detrimental effects (aggression, addiction) to positive effects for human well-being and current developments in designing games for therapeutic applications.
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom (speaker not on site)

  • In this project, psychologists (katho, UvA) and game designers (CGL| TH Köln) developed a digital game-based intervention to prevent harmful substance use and risk behavior and promote self-regulation for adolescents between the ages of 13 and 16. The intervention is targeted at adolescents with increased impulsivity and/or sensation seeking.

    The intervention combines in a novel way a promising medium, the digital game, with a personality-focused and motivational prevention approach – bringing together evidence-based psychological methods and innovative game design.
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom

  • The Fear//Anxiety research project uses virtual reality as tool to investigate the fundamental differences between fear and anxiety. The projects goal is to gain new biological insights into these two primary emotions and derive therapeutic interventions for the treatment of anxiety disorders, panic attacks and phobias. This talk will discuss the potential of VR as tool for authentic behavioral analysis in comparison to abstract, paper-based mental health questionnaires, and highlight the conceptual choices for both game design and technology that are critical to this research.
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom

  • Chronic stress is taxing the mental and physical health of most people in varying intensities throughout their lives. Among various therapy methods, Visual Healing emerges as a promising approach that offers stress reduction and relief from accompanying symptoms. Digging deeper into the underlying concepts of Visual Healing reveals a much greater importance of visual art for human psyche, rooted in evolution and pedagogics.
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom

  • Portrayals of mental illness are common in video games, both in AAA titles and in Indie games. Research on the impact of these portrayals is limited and has traditionally focused almost exclusively on character tropes as found in television and film. However, representations of mental illness in games are broader than just characters and have a unique potential to impact social understanding and cultural perceptions around mental health topics. This presentation will tackle some of the most common tropes, explore their cultural relevance and impact, and provide recommendations for game developers on how to avoid tropes, ditch stereotypes, and create better representations of mental illness in games.
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom

  • How does a colorful puzzle platformer with cute mole rat characters work as an essay on depression? Kerstin shares in her talk some hands on advice on how to tackle mental illness in a playful Serious Game and how the topic was integrated in her companys debut game Duru - About Mole Rats and Depression.
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom

  • Lie in My Heart is an exploration of a family tragedy and of the autobiographical possibilities of videogames. The game relies on the concept of « expressive games »: play experiences that give players the opportunity to take someone’s place in order to explore personal psychological and social issues, as well as moral and ethical dilemmas and their consequences. This concept is the result of several years of research carried out by game designer and researcher Sébastien Genvo. The session will focus on the design choices made to address the psychological dimension of the topic.
    Where
    Room 211 & via zoom

  • Roundtable with summit speakers.
    Where
    Room 211

  • Opening remarks & introduction to Clash of Realities 2022
    Where
    Keynote Tent

  • Game design is not about learning information or acquiring knowledge. It is about practicing ways of doing, thinking, and being. This talk offers a sneak preview of The Rules We Break, a collection of design exercises based on games and play. In the talk, Eric will be sharing some of the core ideas - and we will also be playing through an exercise or two together.
    Where
    Keynote Tent & live streamed on vimeo (speaker not on site)

  • Games allow us to experience challenging psychological and mental health topics in a way that players actually want to engage with. As games continue to explore the depth and breadth of human emotional processing - tackling feelings like shame, guilt, and regret - it is essential that developers have a code for ethical design around this kind of content.

    Whether a game explores vulnerable populations or discusses topics traditionally considered stigmatized (i.e. mental illness) or traumatic (i.e. assault), game designers have an ethical obligation to prioritize player safety. In this talk, clinical psychologist and professor of game design Dr. Kelli Dunlap adapts psychological ethical standards to create guidelines for developing emotionally heavy content.
    Where
    Keynote Tent & live streamed on vimeo

  • One of the most common pieces of wisdom given when designing a game is to know the audience you are targeting and to develop, test, and market almost exclusively to that audience. But what if your game and its users defy common wisdom? What if you design an indie game, for one audience … then bring that game to art venues patrons … and then offer the same game to teachers and students as an educational experience? What if your audiences range from game-literate indie players; to literature lovers and educators; to art patrons; to middle and high school students?

    This has been the case for the award-winning “Walden, a game” project, which is now available on platforms ranging from PC’s, to consoles, to Web, to Chromebooks - targeting new players for each of these platforms and scenarios. Maintaining the integrity of the original vision for this open-world experimental narrative game based on the classic book by Henry David Thoreau, while bringing the game to an ever-wider set of players, is a design challenge that the Walden team has had to face as we have worked to expand and support access to this experimental game project over its varying seasons of development.

    This talk will explore the strategies we have employed while working with teachers, content experts, curriculum designers, evaluators, curators, exhibit designers, and game-based learning experts to reach the widest possible audience for this evergreen experience.
    Where
    Keynote Tent & live streamed on vimeo (speaker not on site)

  • Frans Mäyrä, Olli Sotamaa and Usva Friman from the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies leadership team will in this session talk about the background and pathways leading into establishing a major research center in the field of game studies. The discussion will introduce the aims, structure, research themes and the main forms of operation of this kind of constellation of several, mutually collaborating research teams. The presentation will provide an overview of the CoE outputs, achievements and impacts, and also have a look into the future plans for the Centre.
    Where
    Keynote Tent & live streamed on vimeo

  • Closing remarks and farewell!
    Where
    Keynote Tent

Our Speakers

Speakers of the Clash of Realities 2022









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Team

Program Board & Team Clash of Realities 2022

Contact | Press

TH Koeln
Cologne Game Lab
Schanzenstraße 28
51063 Cologne
Germany

Press Contact:
Judith Abend
Email: press@colognegamelab.de
Phone: +49 221-8275 4058

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