gameZfestival has been a 6 year event looking at the culture of game, play and gamedesign in Zürich, Switzerland. We (Adam and Ulf) met Tabea Iseli – indie developer and one of the event producers – at the Nordic Game Conference earlier this year, and were fortunate enough to
bully convince her to extend us an invite to speak at the very last edition!
The event was hosted by the Department of Design at Zurich University of the Arts, which made us even more excited – making this an opportunity to meet educators that work very similar to us. Both our departments focus on core design, situated through a lot of practice. Students graduate with proper theoretical foundations and a solid portfolio of finished games.
Arriving a day early, and even though we had turned up very late in the day, their undergraduates were impressive and patient in equal measure. They dropped work they were doing to show us their games; talk knowledgeably about them, and solicit feedback! Their masters students were doing fascinating research work – ranging from designing games to help young carers deal with the frustrations of caring for an older relative, to games for general depression, to examining enemy stereotypes to even building education on the principles of old record stores.
And, to top it off, all the research they do in the department is project, and product, based – creating designed, intentioned, innovative artifacts, and details on the design processes that created them. They are definetly ahead of us when it comes to research (our master has just opened up for the first class of applicants!) so the plan now is to return the favor and invite the Zurich Department of Design to the island for Gotland Game Conference 2019, and keep picking their brains. 🙂
As for the festival and our talk: with what we had seen from the students and faculty we knew we had to kick our presentation up a notch or three, so we went back to our rooms to rethink- and redesign. We ended up talking about building narratives through systems, and having story points that were playable. Our presentation was fairly dismissive of emergent narratives, which we had to eat a few hours later when we saw Tarn Adams talk about all the emergent narrative stuff in Dwarf Fortress. (one of the best talks we’ve seen, too!)
Everyone was really worth listening to, so of course we live tweeted as much as we could! You can find the links after the break: