24-hour lecture circuit

Filed under: Blog in March 19, 2013, by Ulf Benjaminsson. Tagged: outreach
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Adam and I are on the plane back from Stockholm – cutting through a massive snowstorm after a long day off the island. We’ve been speaking at Fryshuset Gymnasium and GUC Uppsala.

Three months ago when Fryshuset invited us to talk about ethical games we were brimming with ideas! We would talk about abuse in gaming spaces, exclusion in the industry and culture, bullshit copy protection schemes, bullying, harassment – all of the things!

We spent many late evenings gathering materials, thinking and discussing. It was all good and productive until we looked up what ethics means – and promptly had to throw out everything we’d done up to that point.

We had fallen into the classical trap of assuming that ethics are equivalent to “decent behavior”. Rectifying that schoolboy error, we then proceeded to spend the nights arguing, bitching and moaning (with great intellectual vigor!) until Securitas arrived and gave us ten minutes to leave the building before calling the police.

This went on until 17 hours before we were due to present.

Our problem? The topic was simply too big. How do we talk about ethics, when there are so many different schools of thought? And how do we, as an artistic/entertainment medium, balance free speech/expression and explore difficult topics, while presenting an ethical framework for these works?

And how do we stop apologizing for our industry, while also recognizing that all entertainment media has gone through this process?

A brain melt of epic proportions – leaving us on stage in Stockholm, in front of young impressionable minds – and in big, big trouble.

The result was a presentation on personal responsibility in the work we produce, and a respect for the audience we produce for. A demand for each developer to work out what their ethics and morals are, and how to express them through their work. And an argument for game design as the tool to express with intent in this rich medium of ours.

It seemed to go over well. 🙂

Then off to GUC.

We were going to present a standard description of our education but on arriving, we realized that all our “standard descriptions” are aimed at either external organisations evaluating us, or students about to apply to us (and thus, in dire need of a beating).

So, with 15 minutes before showtime and with the threatening temptation of pie, we cannibalized and Frankensteined 3 presentations into a single, coherent, presentation on the value of our education, the value of studying games, and a quick tour of the ethics of our medium.

All in all, an impressive days work put together with spit and string!

And – even better – right now as we type this on the way home, penniless, on a plane without access to the most basic of credit card technology and bereft of coffee, we were offered money by complete strangers for our caffeine fix, before being given it for free by the professionally kind staff of GotlandsFlyg.

…. we should write and demand the company shower her with our praise.

Thanks to both Fryshuset and GUC for having us. It was great to see you all again and thanks for giving us the chance to flex our minds.

… and we’ll get this guy next year. 😀