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Seminars 2015


December 3rd, 16:00-18:00, Pedagogen room A1 334:

2 talks on Videogames and Storytelling

In this colloquium we will have two talks about storytelling in games. We are very happy to have Daniel Dunne as a guest all the way from Swinburne University of Technology in Australia. Daniel is currently a PhD Candidate at the as well as an editorial board member for the Games Studies journal Press Start. His work focuses mainly upon the combination of both narrative and ludological elements to create a sense of story and place. Previously Daniel has presented on the intersection of narrative, including paratext, multimodality and ergodic literature. After Daniel's talk, Jonas Linderoth will present a recent interview study.

How can Narrative be Productively Mapped in Videogames?

DANIEL DUNNE, Swinburne University

This presentation seeks to provide a method of mapping narrative within videogames, and from this identification argue its importance within videogames. This is to do things: Firstly, provide a method to which game narratives can be discussed in terms of their narrative progression. And secondly, to analyse how interaction is taken into account within storytelling.

For this argument to take place a good framework is needed to encompass a variety of narrative forms, yet still be flexible enough to adapt to any changes that might occur within these videogames. To do so a focus on Roland Barthes' narrative structures and their applicability towards videogame narrative structures will take place. This will highlight the uses of cardinal functions and indices, as Barthes describes them, except in the medium of videogames. From there two case studies will be focused upon Spec Ops: The Line and The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings to highlight the malleability of a narrative structures approach.

It is the hopes of this presentation that this methodology will allow for a method of analysis in which game narratives can be mapped. This process will take into account player inputs, but also give attention to the effect that writers (or rather developers have) on player action. This will allow for better analysis of videogames, in accounting for other narrative possibilities, but hopefully also allow for more complex productions of narrative based videogames.

Creating stories for a composite form: Video game design as Frame Orchestration

JONAS LINDEROTH, University of Gothenburg

In this talk Linderoth presents a study where game developers was interviewed about their views on storytelling in games. The results show that the developers do not see storytelling as the defining trait of videogames but as component in a whole product. Developers have a specific gaze for how players shift their attention between aspects of a game, i.e. they are aware that players move between an interest in the story and other parts of the game. An important skill for the developers is to try to control these shifts in order to enforce the emotions they want the player to have. Linderoth calls this specific skill framework orchestration, a unique skill for game design that previously have not been conceptualized.


November 20th, 10-16, at Svenska Mässan

Mini-conference within Gothenburg games

Organised by the colloquium. No entrance fee!

You are welcome to listen to a series of short and interesting talks and a panel!

Using games for sustainable development education

Educational game design

11.10-11.30 STAFFAN BJÖRK
Gaming things that are not games

11.40-12.00 OSSIAN BORÉN
Games as an art form

Gender in the Game Industry

13.00-13.20 STEPHEN WEBLEY
The ethics of wargame design

13.30-13.50 CARL HEATH
Children designing games – Empowering young makers

15.00 -16.00 Panel (Swedish only) Moralpanik, retorik och journalistik – En paneldebatt om hur spelkultur skildras i media

Mediebilden av spelande har ofta varit antingen svart eller vit. Ena dagen blir spelare massmördare, andra dagen är spel bra för att träna hjärnan. Kommer journalistiken runt spel att mogna? Kommer vi om 15 år att skratta åt rapporteringen av spelkultur på samma sätt som vi gör åt åttiotalets rapportering om den farliga hårdrocken? Eller kommer moralpaniken runt spel att fortsätta blossa upp i media?

See the full programe at http://www.gothenburggames.se/sv/Program/Program/


22nd of October, 16-18, at Handels room C33

Formation of Video Game Markets - Understanding technological and market innovation through the configuration of agencements

PETER ZACKARIASSON, Ph.D. and associate professor in marketing at the School of Business, Economics and Law at University of Gothenburg. Since 2001 he has studied the video game industry and published several articles, books and chapters in topics such as: marketing, organising, project management, and creativity.

The video game industry has since its burgeoning beginning in the 1960 been defined as innovative and creative. Much effort has been invested into the development of technical innovations, making this media today offering a near-reality graphic experience. In this article we argue that the narrative of the video game industry equally can be constructed as one of market innovation, which involves the construction of new types of users. Using the concept of agencements we analyze how six innovations in this industry over the years have constructed different users and contexts of use. The outcome is that previous understanding of innovation in the game industry has had tendency to understanding them as technological innovations, this paper offer an understanding where innovations are understood as configurations of human and non-human actors. This has the possibility to understand both content and context of innovations and their interrelationships in this industry.



17th of September, 16:00-18:00 at the department of applied IT at Lindholmen, Lindholmsplatsen 1, seminar room floor 3 in the house called Kuggen.

Stroke Rehab @ Home

MARTIN RYDMARK, The Sahlgrenska Academy

Stroke is common, ~30,000/yr in Sweden and >1M/yr in USA and cause motor/sensory, cognitive, and other impairments. Rehabilitation is necessary to overcome these and requires long time often years. Most of this need to take place at home since spaces at hospitals are limited and travelling to and from clinics is tiring and expensive. Unfortunately, traditional out-patient rehabilitation is sporadic and tends to not work due to compliance being low and assessment is nil or poor. Most often training is non-existing.
Martin Rydmark will present how VR/3D & haptic assessment and training with telemedicine communication at home can be engaging and effective for rehabilitation. This through the use of individualized training with “serious games” and engaging activities. Part of the arguments for the proposal system is that it is simple to handle and inexpensive and allows video/audio communication with doctors.

Dark Game Design Patterns

STAFFAN BJÖRCK, Gothenburg University

Game designers are typically regarded as advocates for players. However, a game creator’s interests may not align with the players’ and may in several ways be opposed and game designs that result from this may be argued as being questionable and even unethical. Like any reusable design solutions, this can be described as design patterns, but given this context such solutions can be named Dark Gameplay Design Patterns. However, what design patterns are actually opposed the interests of players is not always trivial to discern and this presentation identifies several subtleties involved, thereby provide questions that can be asked to help guide in the specification and identification of future Dark Patterns. The goal is not to criticize game designers but rather to contribute to an ongoing discussion regarding the values in games and the role that designers and creators have in this process.

25th of May, 16.00 – 18.00
Interactive Institute, Polstjärnegatan 14, 1st floor
(The house with Pizzeria Nemos in, entrance either next to the Pizzeria - press button Interactive Institute - or through the yard enteric on the back side)

Battle of the minds!

Guaranteed the most original Academic event of the year!
Which lecturer is best at keeping her/his audience absorbed?

In the battle of the minds three speakers will compete for the focus and attention of the listeners. Parts of the audience will be wearing a brain computer interface that measures their attention. The data will be quantified and at the end of the seminar the winner is the speaker who kept the attention of the audience best. There can be only one master of attention, one winner in Battle of the minds!
The content of the short and intense talks is a secret, even for the combatants, but we assure you that they will have something to do with games or gaming.

The combatants are:
JOSEFIN WESTBORG, Game designer and project leader at LajvVerkstaden.
CARL HEATH, Designer, researcher and project leader at Interactive Institute.
JONAS LINDEROTH, Professor in Education at Gothenburg University

The event is presented by actor, director and psychologist ROBERT BOLIN.

23rd of March, 16.00 – 18.30,
Department of education communication and learning, Campus Rosenlund, room B2 216:

You Call this Archaeology: Archaeologists and Archaeology as Portrayed in Video Games, 1982-2015

ANDREW REINHARD, Director of Publications at the American Numismatic Society

Over the past 30 years of video game design, archaeologists have appeared as the main, playable character in no fewer than 30 games. I will show how the trope of "archaeology" has been used/abused by developers as a way to justify level- and quest-design, how this has affected the public's perception of archaeologists and what they do, and asks the question of whether players who play archaeologists can actually conduct "real" archaeology within the context of video games.

Red Land/Black Land: A Case Study for Building Archaeological Games

ETHAN WATRALL, Assistant Professor in Anthropology at Michigan State University

While serious games have been used in a wide variety of contexts such as healthcare, the military, and language training, there are far fewer examples of games being leveraged in (and for) heritage studies and archaeology.

It is within this context that this talk will explore the Red Land/Black Land serious game project. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and developed at MATRIX: Digital Humanities & Social Sciences (Michigan State University), Red Land/Black Land is a Civilization V mod that allows players to explore Ancient Egypt culture and archaeology from the Predynastic through the Third Intermediate Period. Perhaps more importantly, the game provides a platform to playfully explore the construction of archaeological and egyptological knowledge. In short, addressing the question of how archaeologists and Egyptologists know what they do about ancient Egypt (and how that knowledge developed and evolved over time).

As a case study, Red Land/Black Land also provides \ an excellent opportunity to discuss a more general set of best practices for building archaeology and heritage themed games for learning, outreach, and engagement.

Negotiating the popular representation of a common past

JONATHAN WESTIN, PhD in Conservation at University of Gothenburg, Department of Conservation, and RAGNAR HEDLUND, PhD in Classical Archaeology at Uppsala University Coin Cabinet

Despite the proliferation of large scale popular digital replicas of historic milieus this last decade, there have been relatively few studies on their role as mediators of knowledge and ideas. The immensely popular game series Assassin's Creed by Ubisoft has over the last eighth years seen just as many main instalments, with an additional four targeting handheld systems, each recreating one or several historical events or spaces. While not presenting a thoroughly imagined representation of any time period or place, these representations function to emphasise the epistemological impact of particular visual modes when communicating the past. As a variety of monuments and places figure prominently throughout the series, but at different levels of detail and accuracy, the time and spaces presented by Ubisoft gives us an opportunity to study a representation of the past assembled to be recognisable to a wide audience. Neither bound by the rules that a scientific measuring has to adhere to nor even a strictly denotative visual grammar, these representations often give shape to the collective idea of a place or time rather than archaeological facts. As such they describe their milieus using a large set of tools to communicate a wider spectrum of information through images lent from a collective understanding of the subject.

To discuss the negotiable and formative aspects of cultural memory, in our study we analyse the representation of the city of Rome made available to tenths of millions of spectators through the third main instalment of the series; Assassin´s Creed 2: Brotherhood released in 2010. In contrast to the other citys and milieus represented throughout the series, Rome has not only been the subject of several centuries of archaeological reconstructions, but does also, due to the countless popular representations available, hold a strong position in the public consciousness.

3rd of February, 16.00 – 18.00,
Department of applied IT, Seminar room 3.42, floor 3, Kuggen, Lindholmsplatsen 1, Lindholmen:

Representation of virtual reality in games and other media

THOMMY ERIKSSON, PhD student at the department of Applied IT within the field of digital representation

The representation of virtual objects and environments is a combination of what is technically possible on one hand and how we imagine the virtual on the other hand. Thommy Eriksson’s research has focused on the later, studying how the virtual is portrayed in fictional narratives. What can be learnt about virtual reality from computer games in fiction and real-life computer games?

Dark patterns in games

STAFFAN BJÖRK, professor at the department of Applied IT within the field of interaction design

Game designers are typically regarded as advocates for players. However, a game creator’s interests may not align with the players’. In this presentation, some of the ways in which those opposed interests can manifest in a game’s design are examined with particular focus on the elements of a game’s design whose purpose can be argued as questionable and perhaps even unethical. Building upon earlier work in design patterns, these abstracted elements are called Dark Game Design Patterns. The concept of dark design patterns in games, examples of such patterns, and some of the subtleties involved in identifying them, and presented to help guide in the specification and identification of future Dark Patterns. The aim of this is not to criticize game designers but rather to contribute to an ongoing discussion regarding the values in games and the role that designers and creators have in this process. 

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