DIGRA 2011 meeting: Think, Design, Play

Posted on Tuesday November 15th 2011 at 12:10

DiGRA meetings are a guarantee for meeting up with different types of people and exchanging ideas with researchers from completely different backgrounds. This year’s meeting, under the motto ‘Think, Design, Play‘, was no exception to this. We saw presentations on in-game advertising (among others a study by Laura Herrewijn) next to lectures on the use of UML-style modelling techniques to automatise the balancing of resources in games (Joris Dormans on his fascinating ‘Machinations Framework‘) or on game involvement (Gordon Calleja digging deeper into the notion of incorporation) – spiced with a lot of entertaining keynotes on game design (Mary Flanegan, Eric Zimmerman, Reiner Knizia). Due to the large amount of parallel sessions I even had to miss Katia Aerts’ presentation on the GameHub project (sorry for that!).

I had two presentations myself – both scheduled on Friday – the second day of the conference. During the morning I presented a paper I co-wrote with Thomas Laureyssens, discussing the main results of last year’s ‘Play’ module. We focused on the design challenges one faces while developing games to be used on the workfloor – including the fact that one is targeting a very a-typical gaming public, that one has to consider emplyer-employee relationships (and more specific, the fact that a worker feels uncomfortable being caught playing at work), and that games have to be integrated in a specific public context. I introduced the design philosophy of Streetwize VZW, which is very well suited to address these challenges, given the importance it attributes to aspects such as a low learning treshold. Finally I described the four games that were developed in the context of the module, and pointed out which were the main design desicions made by our students. I include our presentation as an attachment to this post. The session was about ‘designing games for work’, and I was co-hosting the session with Finnish researcher Perttu Heino. His work targeted a similar research goal, as he is in the process of developing games that may enhance the abilities of engineers in a large professional country. During debate, which was structured as a meta-game in order to increase audience participation, it appeared that we could both learn a lot from one another’s results – even though we had been working in completely different contexts. A lot of parrallel sessions were going on at the same time, but nevertheless the room was pretty crowded during our presentation. I had a good session.

Friday afternoon I was chairing a panel session, along with Karolien Poels, on morality in digital game play. The session was structured around our book, ‘Vice City Virtue: Moral Issues in Digital Game Play‘ (Acco Academic, 2011). We had quite an impressive lineup of speakers, with Tilo Hartmann, Garry Young and Monica Whitty discussing the subject from a physchological point of view and presenting a number of highly relevant research results, and with Jose Zagal and myself (I’ll leave in the middle how impressive that is!) addressing the subject from a cultural point of view. We had a heavily loaded session, with discussions regarding matters such as ‘rational vs. experiential processing of virtual violence’ or ‘the ethical dilemma’s contained in such games as Manhunt or Deus Ex’. It was very fun (and interesting!) to see those people in person and hear them reconstruct their arguments!


Attach: Malliet Laureyssens DiGRA 2011




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