Frog Climbers awarded at the SGA!

Filed under: Blog in June 17, 2015, by Ulf Benjaminsson. Tagged: swedish game awards, winners 2015
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First year project Frog Climbers took home Best Execution in Design and the Gamers Choice at the Swedish Game Awards last night! That’s the third year in a row that Gamers Choice go to Gotland. 🙂

A (swedish) press release is available from the university here, and we’ll add photos / video from the event when and if one of you mail them to me. 🙂

Until then; congrats and good work!

Gotland Game Conference 2015

Filed under: Blog in May 31, 2015, by Ulf Benjaminsson. Tagged: GGC 2015
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Head of Department, Hans Svensson, opens the conference
Once a year, in Nevada, the Burning Man festival takes place. There’s a phrase that goes with it. When asked “How was the Burn?” the answer comes, “It was better next year.”

I bring this up because, every year, we have a similar ritual. At the party, we turn to each other and say: “This was a good year.” To which the comeback is, “How the hell are we going to top this?”. Sometimes there’s a shudder that goes with it.

And – really – how are we going to top this?

This year’s speakers knocked it out of the park. We wanted to talk about games with something to say, and games with meaning, this year.
And did we get it. Ave Randviir-Vellamo, finishing her PhD at Tampere University, presented her work on games as tools for propaganda; with “(Video) Games and Information Warfare – Will Revolution be Gamified?” she charted an amazing history of games designed to spread propaganda.

Ave Randviir-Vellamo

The ever amazing Constance Steinkuehler presented her research on the intellectual and cognitive merits of playing games. In a far ranging presentation we saw the positive impacts of not just playing games, but the meaning that players take from them.

Constance Steinkuehler

Constance Steinkuehler

Ian Gil and Richard Dansky talked content. Ian, about respecting cultures when using their myth forms. The value of representation, and the responsibility of those who represent. He also gave us this beautiful quote:

“You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, “Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist?” And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.”

― Junot Díaz

Ian Gil

ULF_0260

Ian Gil

Richard talked about his “Charnel Houses of Europe: The Shoah”-supplement for White Wolf’s Role Playing Game “Wraith: The Oblivion.”; a supplement about the Holocaust. To say pretty much anything about the presentation robs it of its power. But I can tell you it contains the most amazing Harlan Ellison story. Yoshihiro Kishimoto, designer of some 60 games, and now an associate professor at Tokyo University of Technology, gave as an utterly fascinating presentation on character, and gameplay, design that is influenced by Japanese orthography. A true designers presentation, delivered by a design hero.

Yoshihiro Kishimoto

Yoshihiro Kishimoto

Richard Dansky

Double Fine’s Anna Kipnis gave us the programmer eyes’ view of getting dialog into a Double Fine game, from the moment a line is written to hearing and seeing the line in the engine, even in a foreign tongue. We were treated to an in-depth overview of Double Fine’s approach to design and development covering things like the tools our writers and implementers use, how lines are tracked, what dialog systems need to be written to play voice in the game, and how to approach writing dynamic dialog systems.

Anna Kipnis

And, finally, a lesson for us, the people so set the conference up. In our conference blurb, we compared our industry to the films, asking where our groundbreaking, meaning making games were – not in terms of money, but in terms of relevance. We had that notion slapped out of us by an exceptionally researched presentation by George “Super Bunnyhop” Weidman. And what a presentation – finding footage from a first person movie, looking at the technical, artistic, and advances in characters in games, and hammering home, with each example, that movies aren’t games and looking at one, to find meaning in the other, was a futile gesture.

Alongside this, our wonderful jurors presided over a fantastic selection of games. Because what would our game conference be without our students games. This year we had games where you played frogs climbing a hillside – a description that entirely fails to convey the exuberant joy of the thing. Games powered my bicycle pumps; by the hammer of the Gods, creating weapons to beat back the Ice Giants. Games where you played penguins charging around ice-flows. There was a game that you controlled by playing drums, and one you controlled by rowing in a boat.
With games like these, the first years are going to have a lot to live up to as they enter the second you.

Not that the second year lagged behind. Games that encapsulated the End Boss feel of MMOs; slow paced, cerebral puzzlers; racing games; a game based on the the mythology of the Middle East, and a game about flying. And braving development and thesis writing, the third year produced games – with the return of Agency, Fly or Die or Defunct. Alongside new games BlastCat and Terrene.

As always, this show wouldn’t have come together without… well, everyone. We are always amazed at the caliber of presenters and jury, and proud at the level of professionalism from our students. Or, as we say: “This was a good year.”

To which the comeback is, “How the hell are we going to top this?”

Alumni Days 2014

Filed under: Blog » Guest Lectures in November 29, 2014, by Ulf Benjaminsson. Tagged: alumni
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Brjann Sigurgeirsson driver spelstudion Image & Form och berättar om sin mångåriga erfarenhet som indieutvecklare. Föreläsningen ges på göteborgska.

Jens Berglind and Peter Stråhle talks about the development of Shelter 2:

Nicodemus Mattisson berättar om sina erfarenheter av att jobba som frilans och erfarenheter att ta hjälp av en agent för att söka jobb.

Alumnipanelen: en panel full med prominenta alumner som diskuterar sina erfarenheter och svarar på frågor från studenter. I år höll vi till i Studentbaren Rindi.

Alumni Days 2014 poster

Schedule:
10 December, Wednesday, E22
15.45 Nicodemus Mattisson – Freelance Concept Artist
17.00 Brjánn Sigurgeirsson – Image & Form
Albertina Sparrhult – Diversi

11 December, B27
16.00 Albertina Sparrhult – Diversi workshop / meetup

12 December, Friday, B51
13.00 Hans Svensson – Institutionen för Speldesign
13.30 Teddy Sjöström – Pixel Ferrets
14.45 Jens Berglind, Peter Stråhle – Might & Delight
16.00 Daniel Gustafsson – Calm Island

13 December, Saturday, B51
13.00 Rabi Afram – NetEnt
14.15 Malin Lövenberg – A Sweet Studio
15.30 Anders Ekermo – Blizzard Entertainment
20.00 Alumni panel & Party (at Rindi)

Swedish Game Awards 2014

Filed under: Blog » Publicity in June 19, 2014, by Ulf Benjaminsson. Tagged: GGC 2014, swedish game awards
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The winners of the Swedish Game Awards 2014 has been announced; Defunct and Flash & Crash joins the proud lineup of awarded student projects from Campus Gotland GAME!

1st year project Flash & Crash won the audience hearts and received the Gamer’s Choice award, with the motivation:

The counting of the votes yesterday revealed a close race between two of the contestants. The winning game was instantly pleasing, fun to watch and inspired people to battle it out. The game pleased visitors of all ages and the station was never quiet.

Gamers Choice: Flash & Crash

2nd year project Defunct – best second year project at the Gotland Game Conference – earned its creators 25 000kr, a legal start package and counseling from Fondia, together with the coveted Game of The Year award. The jury’s motivation read:

From the onset, this game presents itself as a complete package and it executes expertly across the board to deliver a richly satisfying and ready for retail experience. It’s ambitious, colourful and a heck of a lot of fun to play.

Game of the Year: Defunct

Swedish Game Award Winners 2014, photo by The Square

Gotland Game Conference 2014

Filed under: Blog in June 9, 2014, by Ulf Benjaminsson. Tagged: GGC 2014
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The Gotland Game Conference has a history of deep exploration of niche topics, using games as the lens with which to examine any number of areas, and presenting the results in an open, and accessible way. In 2013 we highlighted issues of representation and inclusivity, and how gaming, and game culture, can, and should, be part of the solution.

This year, the conference went big.
Biiiig!

At Gotland Game Conference 2014 we introduced the audience to games as they had never seen them before: as motors for innovation and creation; as serious research – and training; as teaching tools; as alternate reality escapism and even as powerful forms of social engagement and world improvement!

We had an amazing line up of speakers to provide us with many, brilliant and articulate viewpoints.

We had Jean-Baptiste Huynh, CEO of WeWantToKnow and creator of the award winning algebra game DragonBox, talking about using games as a teaching medium. Brendon Trombley followed up with Institute of Play, where he does just that: collaborating with teachers at a New York City public school, building on principles underlying games and game design, they suggest a promising new paradigm for curriculum, learning and the institution of school.

You can’t look forward without learning from the past, so Jason Scott, American archivist and historian of technology introduced us to his work at the Internet Archive and their plan to put every computing platform, ever, in your browser. He is leading the charge towards a YouTube for video games and further on to make all computing culture instantly available and shareable!

Jason Scott, talking about JSMESS and the Internet Archive

Swede filmmaker and creative powerhouse, Jerry Belich, gave an intensely personal talk on the fragility of innovation and the creative process, and the entire conference was brought to a close by the, quite frankly, awesome Colleen Macklin (about who we’d need a tl,dr post to make up an adequate description). She gave a presentation that was at once shockingly pragmatic and learned while also managing to be hopeful and inspirational.

Gotland Game Conference was also hosting the Nordic Digital Games Research Association – the premiere international association for academics and professionals who research digital games and associated phenomena. They presented scientific papers on the subject of Gamification, gaming culture and it’s effect on society, and pervasive game systems in everyday life.

In short – we explored game systems stretching beyond living-room escapism, and caught a glimpse of what the future of gaming could hold!

2014 also saw the strongest lineup of student games ever. Across all three years, students presented 28 projects of unprecedented quality. The jury had their work cut out for them, and we ended up with a nice cross-section with all years represented on stage during the bombastic Awards Ceremony;

Show Floor

Speakers

Awards Ceremony

Martine Pederson on Systems in Social Work

Filed under: Blog » Guest Lectures in May 20, 2014, by Ulf Benjaminsson. Print This

Martine during her lecture

Games are carefully designed, learner-driven systems.
Games produce meaning.
Games are dynamic systems.
Games are immersive.
Games are interactive and dynamic, requiring a player’s participation.”

This is taken from the Institute of Play’s report “Quest to Learn” However, this definition is true of many things – other than games. Social work being one of them.

Martine Pedersen is a social worker with thirteen years experience, and a start up “Indspark”, under her belt. She has worked with with many age groups, and dealt with a number of issues, including drug abuse, anti-social behaviour and, family support.

Early on she saw that behaviour couldn’t be looked at in isolation; that many things contributed to a person’s life situation.

The more she talked about how she saw Social Work, and the methods she uses with her clients, the more we heard applied game design, and knew we had to have her.

Her presentation was advanced game design, applied systems design, and great social work and an absolute asset to the course.