Symbio wins at BitSummit, Kyoto

Symbio – last years’ Jury Spotlight– and Almedalen Library Award winner – just returned from BitSummit in Kyoto, where they took home the “Innovative Outlaw Award!

Congrats to the team, and well played!

The Innovative Outlaw Award for Symbio, at BitSummit, Kyoto

Symbio is a first-year arcade game developed by Jesper Bergman, Hangning Zhang, Kaijun Wang, Kristina Stiskaite, Alexander Sinn, Merve Metinkol for the Gotland Game Conference 2018.

Introductory lectures by Doris and Mischa

Professor Doris Rusch and Mischa Hießböck moved to Gotland and started working with us earlier this month! They’re both giving an introduction lecture on Wednesday the 22nd, at 13:00 in B51 – swing by to say hi and learn what they’re about!

The lectures are open to the public and all GAME-students are strongly recommended to attend.

Where: B51, Campus Gotland
When: Wed 22nd of May, 13:00 – 15:00

Storytelling, game design and history

Michael Hießböckk

In my introductory talk, I am taking the opportunity to compare two of my favorite projects: I will discuss “Something Wicked” – a game project that serves as an example for how my passions for storytelling, game design and history can productively coalesce and inform each other. Something Wicked was a collaboration with Elizabeth Hunter, at the time a theater PhD student at Northwestern University in Chicago. It is a video game adaptation of the Norwegian invasion from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

The other project is “Cure Runners”, a collaboration with Three Coins and Ovos Media, that teaches financial literacy. The game is set in a not-so-alternate timeline in which a forgotten island in the Pacific Ocean emerges from cold-war-era oblivion.

I am looking forward to illustrating my approach to narrative and game design exemplifying these very different cases.

Deep Game Design & The Alchemy of Play

Doris C. Rusch

I think of games as interactive Pensieves. Pensieves are an invention by J.K. Rowling. They are magical basins into which you can put excess thoughts from your mind to see them more clearly, understand new connections. That’s what games are to me. What I look for, when I choose a game to play. What I strive for, when I design one: projective possibility spaces to better understand our Inner World, allowing an investigation of the Human Condition by making salient aspects of it manifest through rules, mechanics, art, and sound.

But games are not just passive receptacles you dump ideas into. They afford active engagement of these ideas in an embodiedenactedexperiential way. And as such, they are far less obedient and arguably much more magical than the humble Pensive! You don’t just look at a game and watch its ideas and themes unfold. You step into the current and are transformed – as player and designer – through the alchemy of play.

As designer and research, I want to unlock the secrets of this play alchemy. I do so by exploring how games can leverage the mind-body connection; how they can speak to our unconscious through mythical themes and ritualistic game mechanics; how they can raise questions rather than give answers by way of letting us act upon evocative possibility spaces; how they can touch us emotionally, disturb and confront us, so we see life with fresh eyes, we wake up to our own existence, and become more aware of the lived experiences of others.

There is much to do still, in regards to articulating design approaches that harness this alchemy of play. This intro talk is meant to provide a glimpse into how I think about games, why I believe they are the coolest medium on this planet and what I hope to explore further with students and colleagues at the UU games department on beautiful, magical Gotland. 

Where: B51, Campus Gotland
When: Wed 22nd of May, 13:00 – 15:00

Join the Educators Summit (7-8th of June)

Educators: the Gotland Game Conference Educators Summit is back and it wants your voice. If you’re an established education with a set of veteran teachers, or a new education wondering where to focus your attention, there is something for you here.

For the past two years the Educators Summit has created a space to discuss the subjects that gather under the banner of game education. We have looked at teaching, research, outreach to industry and how to form a closer bond with each other. It has been instrumental in the forming of a European wing of the Higher Education Video Games Alliance, and the formation of a HEVGA Research Summer School.

We have three things to ask of you:

  1. Fill in this pre-meeting survey. Whether you can come or not – this information will help us keep future summits relevant!
  2. Consider submitting a talk for the summit
  3. And register for your ticket on ti.to (combined tickets for the Gotland Game Conference + Educator Summit are available!)

As always, we’re looking for presentations of what and how you teach. If you’d like to submit a presentation, these are some areas to focus on:

  • What is your education’s unique niche?
  • How did you develop your unique niche?
  • What is your education’s biggest weakness and threat?
  • Do you have innovative methods of teaching your content?

Slots are available for 15 – 45 minute presentations, submit your talk through this form.

We understand what it means to ask educators to take days away from their subjects. It has always been our goal that the summit be a place of value for our participants and this year is no exception.

We want to start delivering on a promise: an international network of teachers who are willing to travel and teach in other departments. The presentations are meant as adverts and request: tell us what you’re great at, tell us what you need.

And bring your business cards. We want to bring people together.

Thanks for your interest!

Back from alt.ctrl.GDC 2019

alt.ctrl.GDC is a unique showcase of alternative control schemes and interactions in games at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, and for the second year in a row, three of our student teams were awarded a slot on the showfloor! (Coal Rush, Neon Nemesis and ReLeap. )

Gamasutra wrote about each game back in January when the 20 strong line-up was announced:

There wasn’t much video coverage this year, but Phillip Chu Joy took the time to walk the floor and record all 20 games, it’s in Spanish but provides some much needed overview of the crazy creativity being on display:

Coal Rush @ 11:10, Releap @ 12:32 and Coal Rush @ 15:15

RockPaperShotgun were there and wrote about their experiences: I got tied to a chair at Alt.Ctrl.GDC and it was wild. Tom’s Guide loved the nefarious multiplayer nature of Neon Nemesis, as documented in their write-up: Haunted Couches, Escape Rooms and Guitar Combat: The Weirdest Games of GDC. Arcade Heroes seemed to really see the potential in Neon Nemesis. Finally, CNN wrote about both Neon Nemesis, and Coal Rush.

Our students also got a fair response from other developers. Here’s Ubisofts’ Aaron McClay;

And Seal Games’ Christian Haja:

And finally, some photos from the teams themselves on the show floor in San Francisco:

Of course, reading about these games is not the same as playing them! If you want to try our new games out (without having to travel to the US to do so), come meet us at this years Gotland Game Conference in June. There is a Pay What You Want-option to get full access to ~50 entirely new games. It’s also a great opportunity to meet our students and faculty, if you’re interesting in studying game design and development.

Find out more at the Gotland Game Conference website, and get your tickets here!