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Serious Simulations

Spil & animation: Serious simulations (for fun)

The seminar ’Serious Simulations (for fun)’ deals with a dramatic change in the area of computer games. Computer games have throughout the past decades given us the opportunity to experience, tell stories and play in virtual, computer generated worlds. Today, however, the narratives of the computer games, their laws of physics and their rule structure not only belong to the game world. Incessantly and innovatively, they reach far beyond the game universe and into reality. The computer game today is the place where we not only escape reality, but also relate to reality – similar to the role of the movie in the 20th century. They have become an important part of marketing, teaching, political activism, communication and information to the public. It is the language of the future, the language for and about the reality we are living in. The game simulations are still compelling and entertaining but at the same time the fun is related to the seriousness of reality.

The seminar will focus on computer games that cross the line between fiction and reality. This could be the use of computer games in military training, in marketing, in public service and communication of political messages. Games will be demonstrated, discussed and questioned: What are we interacting with in a simulated world? What does the computer simulation do to the experience of the virtual world? How do we communicate a message in a simulation? What is the relationship between entertainment and communication? What is the role of the player when the game is no longer just a game? Are these serious games a new phenomenon or do we see examples of communicative games in the past? Can we learn from history?


The invited speakers are:

Paolo Pedercini - Molleindustria. Molleindustria is an Italian team of game producers specialised in political, activist games. Producers of numerous famous games with a political agenda, amongst others: ‘Mayday Netparade, ‘McDonald’s Videogame’, ‘Tomatipico – your virtual flexworker’. www.molleindustria.org

Simon Yuill – Artist, programmer and creator of ’Spring_Alpha’, a game-based project using an open source game development as an exploration of software and social governance. The game exposes and explores the representational mechanics of gaming systems and their relationship to social models.

Gonzalo Frasca – Ph.d. student at the IT University of Copenhagen. Author of the very acknowledged blog ludology.org and of several political computer games – amongst others ’September 12th’, debating the effect of the war on terror and computer games for Howard Dean’s 2003 presidential campaign in the US. Gonzalo Frasca has also published numerous articles on game theory and the use of games in political campaigns.

Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen – Assistant professor, Dept. of Digital Aesthetics & Communication, IT University of Copenhagen. Ph.D on the educational potential of computer games. Has written several articles on computer games, children, education, and learning since 1997. Board member of Digital Game Research Association, co-founder of Game-Research.com, editor of Ivory tower column, and a founding member of Center for Computer Games Research Copenhagen Co-founder of the company Serious Games.


12.30-12.45: Welcome: Morten Breinbjerg/ associate professor, ph.d., Multimedia Studies, University of Aarhus and Christian Ulrik Andersen/ ph.d. student, Multimedia Studies, University of Aarhus

12.45-13.30: Simon Yuill: Playing G.O.D.: Social Versioning System (SVS) is a framework for creating multi-agent gaming and simulation systems. It was initially created for the spring_alpha project, a game which plays with the con- struction and evolution of small social systems through re-programming the system as it runs. One of the unique features of SVS that was created for spring_alpha is a wiki-style version control system built directly into the game engine, that enables different versions of gamescripts to be stored and their evolution and changes tracked over time, making the game engine a kind of wiki-fied social system designer. G.O.D. (Game-On-Demand) is an extension of this principle to a web-based system. It takes the framework of a wiki-style website and provides some basic game editor tools, such as for designing levels and creating character scripts. Different game components can be created, edited and combined to form new games and game re-mixes though this. New games are published via RSS feeds which SVS game-clients can be tuned into, downloading new games or game components as they are created. The intention is to provide a zine-style self distribution system for game creators, and in the spring_alpha project, to explore the possiblility of multiple games and game re-mixes as a kind of discursive medium, each provi- ding different social models or contested virtualities.  

13.30-13.40: SHORT BREAK  

13.40-14.25: Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen: Global Conflicts: Palestine: The talk presents the research project evolving around Global Conflicts: Palestine that have been running for the last 18 months. This includes a discussion of the underlying learning assumptions, a critique of existing titles on the market, the findings from classroom study in terms of learning effect pointing to the usefulness of the title.

14.25-14.45: COFFEE BREAK

14.45-15.30: Paolo Pedercini (Molleindustria): Radical Game Design: Notes on Political Games Retorics:  A spectre is haunting the net: the spectre of political gaming. Small and viral online games that are capable of spreading dissonant messages. They emerge and disappear in the ever-changing world of the blogs, forums and mailing lists. Sometimes they are blended out of the undeground game design scene, sometimes they pop out of the glossy pages of pop magazines, sometimes they are shown disguised as works of art. Paolo gives an overview of this emerging phenomenon by focusing on the peculiar rethorics of political games. In times of epochal crisis, new ideas must seek new forms of expression. In this case, ludic social criticism trigggers an overturning of tradi- tional styles and genres of gaming and gameplays. Paolo refers to how the ambiguous relation between player and avatar could be used to enlighten the power relations, as well as satirize gender roles and how non-linear textuality is particularly suitable to describe the fragmented lives of post-fordist workers and other issues in contemporary alienation. Thereafter, he is going to dwell upon the potentials for various simulations aiming at making easier to understand the complex and paradoxical implications of the economics of late, immaterial capitalism. 

15.30-15.40: SHORT BREAK

15.40-16.25: Gonzalo Frasca: Political Games or how to change the world while getting a High Score: Even though the use of videogames for both politics and propaganda has been gathering some attention recently, the use of games for activism predates the invention of the computer. This talk will explore the potential of both traditional games and videogames as a tool for communicating ideas and political messages. It will review several examples, ranging from board games to multi- player videogames, including some of the the speaker’s own projects.

16.25-16.45: Questions and debate

16.45-17.30: Networking and sandwiches

Tid & Sted:

29/11-06: kl. 11-18
IT-Huset Katrinebjerg
Åbogade 15
8200 Århus N

Entre priser:

Medlem af it-forum midtjylland: Gratis; Ikke medlem af it-forum midtjylland: Gratis


it-forum midtjylland; www.itforum.dk ; info@itforum.dk ; 8942 9367
it-vest; www.itev.dk
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Revideret 17.02.2010