A Dangerous Game? Problematic Aspects of Digital Gaming


This is the fifth symposium on digital games hosted by the Swedish Museum of Science and Technology. This time we were discussing game addiction / problematic gaming. Patrick Prax – now officially representing our favorite Department of Game Design – shared his research, taking a holistic approach to treatment.

“Rather than taking games away, we need to add life back.”

Patrick Prax at the symposium "A Dangerous Game? Problematic Aspects of Digital Gaming"
“Focusing only on the screen, the game, or even the gamer in treating (or even diagnosing) problem gaming is paradigmatically wrong.”
– Patrick Prax

From the program

More people than ever before are playing digital games. For many it is just an enjoyable leisure activity but games and gaming are also associated with concerns about gaming addiction, violent content and problematic representation as well as hate speech and harassment among players.

The Swedish Media Council report on youth media use (2012) showed that digital games was the media category young people felt most concerned about and was most favorable about age limits for. It was also the media category they felt adults were least interested in.

Is there such a thing as digital gaming addiction and if so, how common is it? Are the gamers affected by violent content and values expressed in games? What are the judicial aspects of harassment in online games? Is the talk of “problematic gaming” just a part of a moral panic? These are some of the questions that will be discussed by our invited speakers at this symposium.

The schedule (for future reference):
9:30-10:00 Registration and fika (coffee).
10:00-10:10 Introduction and Welcome - Peter Du Rietz, Curator at the National Museum of Science and Technology, Tekniska museet.
10:10-11:00 The multiple dimensions of video game effects: Getting beyond dichotomous thinking - Douglas Gentile. Professor of Psychology, Media Research Lab, Iowa State University
11:00-11:30 Behavioral addictions as a Trojan horse - Karin Helmersson Bergmark, Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Stockholm University
11:30-12:30 LUNCH
12:30-13:00 Un-pausing your life: Problem Gaming from the Perspective of Treatment - Patrick Prax, Department of Informatics and Media, Uppsala university.
13:00-13:30 My life as a gaming addict - Fredrik Reis-Nilsson, Gaming addict.
13:30-14:20 Dark game design patterns: Engaging or exploiting the player? - Faltin Karlsen, Professor of Media Studies at Westerdals Oslo School of Arts, Communication and Technology.
14:20-14:50 FIKA (coffee)
14:50-15:20 Cyber hate – Cyber crime? - Amanda Redin, the Swedish Institute of Law and Internet.
15:20-15:50 Gaming culture and the struggle against hate speech - Alexander Hallberg, SVEROK (The Swedish Gaming Federation)
15:50-16:30 Panel discussion

The votes are in, and the fifth talk is…

Bonnie Ruberg at the GGC 2011
Bonnie Ruberg at the GGC 2011

Our fifth speaker presented us with not just one idea, but four(!). We wanted all of them, natch, and the arguing about which one to pick was so fierce we just decided to abdicate our responsibility and let someone else choose. You all voted in our Facebook poll and the result was 40% for a critical examination of so called “empathy games”.

So Bonnie Ruberg – founder of the Queerness and Games Conference, academic overachiever per-excellence and a well known fan-favorite of ours – is coming to GGC to talk about games that allow players to experience the lives of the marginalized. These games, designed to be immersive, impactful, and socially meaningful, run the risk of being appropriative. As Robert Yang recently put it; “If you walk in someone else’s shoes, then you’ve taken their shoes.” So Bonnie will help us look at the problems with game empathy, and methods of solving these problems.

The full abstract has been added to the existing line-up for your perusal.

So let us just gush about Bonnie for a while, because we have been fan-girling over following Bonnie for quite some time! We had her on the island back in 2010 when she ran a full day workshop with our students, about bravely (yet responsibly!) approaching sex and gender representation in their game designs.

From Bonnie Ruberg’s 2010 workshop “Re-Doing Sex/Gender in Games” on campus Gotland

Then we had her back for the keynote at GGC 2011 where she talked about close reading video games – because there is no such as thing as taking your entertainment media too seriously! More recently her work with the Queerness and Games Conference have contributed greatly in helping us make not only our education, but also this conference as inclusive, welcoming and safe as possible!

In short; we like Bonnie quite a lot, and we think you will too. 🙂 We are extremely happy to have her back, and slightly embarrassed it’s been so long!

Thank you Bonnie, and thanks to everyone who participated in the poll! We hope you take the opportunity to see Bonnie deliver the presentation live next month!

Announcing the jury!

Jury hard at work. :)

The jury represents the most hard-working participants at the Gotland Game Conference (save for our students, naturally). Jurors travel from near and far to listen to our students’ presentations a day before the conference even starts, and to play all of the student productions on the show floor.

Each members brings their own set of experience and expertise, and share that insight directly with the students during the presentations. This is followed by two days of hard labor where each jury member needs to play enough to provide meaningful written feedback (as well as numeric scores) on each game. These scores does not affect student grades, of course, but are an integral part of the GGC Awards and for our students’ learning outcomes!

The jury is absolutely massive, as they need to cover all three years of our education!

Without further ado, here is the complete 2017 Jury!

  1. Anton Albiin, Association of Swedish Game Developers
  2. Bonnie Ruberg, UC Irvine
  3. Chris Franklin, Errant Signal
  4. Doris Rusch, DePaul University
  5. Maria Guadalupe Alvarez, Högskolan i Skövde
  6. Joakim Sjöberg, Odd Raven Studios
  7. Joshua Juvrud, Uppsala University
  8. Martine Pedersen, IndSpark
  9. Mattias “Ditto” Dittrich, Art in Heart
  10. Mike Sellers, Indiana University
  11. Richard Bartle, University of Essex
  12. Sabine Harrer, University of Vienna
  13. Samson Wiklund, Diversi
  14. Patrick Seibert, Founder: indiecouch.org
  15. Travis C. Parrott, Westlaw Legal Solutions
  16. Fred Ström, Pixel Ferrets
  17. Jens Berglind, Might and Delight
  18. Joakim Andreasson, Paradox Development Studio
  19. Jona Marklund, KJ Interactive
  20. Martin Greip, Eat Create Sleep
  21. Max Tiilikainen, iGotcha Studios
  22. Olof Wallentin, Starbreeze Studios
  23. Pernilla Sparrhult, Paradox Development Studio
  24. Peter Stråhle, Might and Delight
  25. Sigrid Svederoth, Cortopia AB
  26. Teddy Sjöström, Pixel Ferrets
  27. Thommy Siverman, Electronic Arts
  28. Tobias Wahlberg, TOB-E GAMES
  29. Vilya Svensson, Pixel Ferrets
  30. Ylva Ljungqvist, Paradox Development Studio

Bold is GAME alumni  – welcome back! 🙂

And thanks in advance to all the jurors for taking the time – and putting up the effort – to help improve our students, our education, and our medium!

Swedish Game Awards in Visby

The Swedish Game Awards is the nation’s largest video game development competition, pitting all Swedish game educations against each other. It has been held annually since 2002 and is organized by a student-driven, non-profit association. They just announced that the 2017 finale will be held in Visby – just a few days after the Gotland Game Conference!

Ergo, you might want to adjust your travel schedule to allow for a few more days in this medieval town of ours. 🙂

Anouncement over at the Swedish Game Awards blog

The Wikipedia page is a good source of information for the SGA, including the competition categories and winners from previous years. We will of course shamelessly point out that our students generally fare very well; last year Gotland took home Best Diversity Effort, Best Execution in Design, Best Technical Execution and Best Execution in Narrative. Head on over at our less-official department blog for a full list of all SGA-awards earned by our students.