Future and Reality of gaming conference, Vienna, 23-25 September 2016

While I attended the Cultural Typhoon in Europe (see previous blog), the city of Vienna hosted the event Game City. Connected to that a conference about gaming and children took place: Future and Reality of gaming (F.R.O.G.), which hosted a great variety of fascinating discussions under the topic: Beyond Gameplay – Game cultures and game practices (see the programme here). The idea was to learn more about what people do with games and the surrounding culture of games, to look at who is allowed to play and who isn’t. In the introduction an excited speaker on behalf of the city explained that the organizers are interested in surpassing the focus on games as addictive, violent, and ‘bad’ or games as mere entertainment. Instead they would like to understand the ‘real magic of gaming and its meaning for society’.

Since I was mostly busy with the other conference at the university, I could only listen to some of the quite insightful presentations at F.R.O.G. on Sunday, dealing e.g. with girls in e-sport, where males are still predominant in the public image. Especially interesting was the remark that particularly in puberty girls are very vulnerable players as they tend to be ‘forced into’ doing girly stuff, which is supposed to not include activities such as digitally shooting zombies. The speaker, Maike Groen, emphasized that in order to get out of the dilemma of underrepresented girls, organisations could help among others.

Anthropologist Michaela Rizzolli, who studied World of Warcraft and presented about the value-system of gamers, showed how material objects in gaming are composed by seven sets of values (see also this podcast). Other presentations discussed space in games, and the importance of spatial representations in narratives and different genres of games, pointing out that looking for spatial information will enhance the understanding of a game’s narrative (by Atanur Andiç). André Weßel looked at how telltale games could be used in discussing morality with youth or even making them more aware of moral questions in everyday life (see also this upcoming conference on gaming in Cologne). Urban architecture doctoral student, Bruno Amaral de Andrade, provided glimpses into his creative research about the possibilities of using digital games to include children in decision making about the use of public space. Bruno De Paula, presenting about gamer identity, called for a greater participation of children in game creation.

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