HEVGA meet-up in Washington

Filed under: Blog in December 15, 2015, by Adam Mayes. Tagged: outreach
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Last week, we … (last week already. Where does the time go?)

Last week we travelled to Washington, D.C. for an Unconference with the Higher Education in Video Games Association.

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The gathering was titled “Games + Higher Education + National Impact.” HEVGA described it this this:

“This two day meet-up will assemble leading thinkers and creators of interactive media to address national priorities areas including educational tools for teachers and students, citizen science platforms for crowdsourcing discovery, and increasing diversity in STEM (and tech industries generally). By the end of this jointly hosted meet-up, participants will be up to speed on current funding priorities of federal agencies investing in interactive media for impact; will have expanded their professional network of potential partners across both campuses and agencies; and will gain actionable knowledge about best practices and common pitfalls in the federal grant proposal and review process.”

And it really was like that. Game educators sat in the same room as funding bodies, government agencies and private companies and talked about challenges and opportunities for games for impact.
 

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One of the highlights was listening to the Executive Director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism talk about personality types that are easily radicalised and how, even through we use that term solely for certain kinds of terror, that type is similar across all ideologies, including our own gamergaters.

That presentation then went on to discuss how games can be used to combat radicalism and create healthy support networks for vulnerable individuals.

On that subject, we met our old friend, Heidi McDonald, who spoke about her new job at iThrive. They have a vision that “mobile and online gaming and app technologies can be used effectively  as tools that build positive emotions in adolescents, improve quality of life and prevent the development of mental health disorders.”

They have an open competition coming up, and a Game Jam Diversifier. Go over to their site and read all about that. We’ve agreed that she should come and talk to our students in the New Year, so we’ll organise some coverage of that event.

 
 
 

All in all, it was another inspirational event. The Live Tweeting from the Gotland Game account was a little sporadic, given the nature of more conversation than conference, and less battery than we would like on the computer, but do look back and see what happened.

Alumni Days 2015

Filed under: Blog » Guest Lectures in December 13, 2015, by Ulf Benjaminsson. Tagged: alumni
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2015-12-14

UPDATE: all talks are now published on our Guest Lecture playlist on YouTube.

This weekend we took a break from everything that has to do with Christmas preparations hullabaloo and invited some of our alumni to come and inspire our current students and spread their knowledge.

Martin Greip showed a very impressive graph of “All the Feels”™ of being an indie developer and the daily struggle of running a studio. And by “accident” he also revealed Eat Create Sleep’s next game, Project Synvilla.

Martin Greip - Eat Create Sleep

Martin Greip – Eat Create Sleep

Albertina Sparrhult held a very personal introduction (with cows, bathroom queues and everything), to what Diversi is all about and why we all benefit from more diversity within our games.

Albertina Sparrhult - Diversi

Albertina Sparrhult – Diversi

Captive audience

1st, 2nd and 3rd year GAME Students

Albertina Sparrhult - Diversi

Albertina Sparrhult – Diversi

Nobody knows how to herd cats and destroy all the fun more than Ylva Sundström, who shared her biggest secrets on how to become an exceptional game producer.

Ylva Sundström - GameDuell

Ylva Sundström – GameDuell

After he conquered Europe, the son of Gotland return to talk about his conquests. Andreas Svensson has been working at several game studios around Italy and Germany. Now he’s back at Blue Byte, one of the first companies he worked at.

Andreas Svensson - Ubisoft BlueByte

Andreas Svensson – Ubisoft BlueByte

Making a game is easy. Making a game that people understand is hard. Kalle Henningsson, QA Manager at Playdead, showed of some examples of the different iterations of Limbo and their upcoming title, Inside.

Kalle Henningsson - Playdead

Kalle Henningsson – Playdead

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Daniel Polgar & Lee Kåberg hade the audience clapping and cheering while they talked about the process of starting up their company, Bridgeside Interactive. They spilled the beans on everything from how to form the company culture, what positions you need to fill and where the money is. Not only that, but they also showed of their first game, Clapper. Which is based on a game they produced during, the objectively best course on Campus Gotland, “Theme Park”.

Lee Kåberg - Bridgeside Interactive

Lee Kåberg – Bridgeside Interactive

Daniel Polgar - Bridgeside Interactive

Daniel Polgar – Bridgeside Interactive

”Who made that wonderful torch”, was the only thing everyone could think of when Horizon: Zero Dawn was revealed at this years E3. Prop modeler extraordinaire, Kim Aava, talked about what goes into a portfolio, the difference between working at an indie studio compared to a AAA-studio. But most importantly, she bravely showed some of her early work to show that everybody is a beginner at some point. An encouragement to us all!

Kim Aava – Guerrilla Games

Kim Aava – Guerrilla Games

Alumni Panel at the student pub Rindi

Alumni Panel at the student pub Rindi

Alumni Panel at the student pub Rindi

Alumni Panel at the student pub Rindi

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Alumni Panel at the student pub Rindi

Alumni Panel at the student pub Rindi

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We ended it all at the local student union pub, with a Q&A-panel consisting of some of our alumnis, mingle and some of the games produced at the education this year. It was a blast! Big, big thanks to all alumni, students and staff!

PS. we will publish all talks we’re allowed to share, on our youtube-channel. Subscribe to our RSS-feed for a notification when they’re up!

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

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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