John N A Brown

John N A BrownJohn NA Brown is a wandering polymath who has spent years trying to write the perfect autobiographical blurb. In this quest, he has become a research scientist, public speaker, author, designer, human factors specialist, cartoonist, bricklayer, encyclopedist, storyboard artist, and much more. He has written and taught university courses in Scientific Thinking, Research Methods, Computer Animation & Storytelling, and Applied Biomechanics, and has solved problems for Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Along the way he picked up a few PhDs and an embarrassing number of other academic degrees, as well as awards for animation, teaching, applied mathematics, and haiku. Currently at Evolv Technologies in San Francisco, Dr Dr Dr Brown has previously worked in a dozen countries, in the private and public sectors, in serious games, in recreational sports, and in his pyjamas.
He has yet to win an award for any of his autobiographical blurbs.

Save Gamer

Video games require the player to iterate; to repeat their behaviour over and over again, making slight progressive changes each time. This is how the player learns how to move through and interact with the gamespace, and it is also how humans learn and master new skills in the real world. In both cases, new skills are first performed slowly and deliberately, with conscious and
thoughtful reflection. Eventually, through iteration, these new skills are mastered and become  pre-attentive: either predictions and reactions based on high-speed pattern recognition, or bursts of incredibly fast previously-learned coordinated reflexes called muscle memory. After the right kind of reinforcement, the conditioned behaviours can be triggered unconsciously. When someone’s pre-attentive and reflexive skills are repeatedly triggered, forcing them to respond too quickly for conscious and thoughtful reflection, they enter into a state of performance called Flow. In gameplay and in real life, this is where distractions disappear, and mastery of multiple overlapping skills can be developed. As with real life skill mastery, time spent in “gameflow” changes the player’s mind and body at an unconscious level. Application-specific gamification has been used to condition and reinforce pre-attentive behaviours that allow people to be put to more efficient use as a resource for military, political, and commercial interests. Gamejams could become the testing ground for games that develop unconscious skills that will help players level up in the real world.

Mahshid Mayar

Mahshid MayarSince Oct. 2016, Mahshid Mayar has been an assistant professor of American Studies at Bielefeld University. In her current position, Mahshid follows two broad lines of research; while she engages with the ‘blank’ in postmodern American literature (‘erasure’ and ‘blackout’ literature) for her second-book project, she also conducts research on digital games, where she theorizes the study of digital games and examines game titles that open dialogues on history and culture. Since early 2019, Mahshid has been a member of the central committee of the Arbeitskreises Geschichtswissenschaft und Digitale Spiele.

Banal, Boring, Banned: Unplayability in Digital Games

Frowning frantically as you look for a replacement to the missing link to a controversial game; scratching your upper arm in boredom; hesitating to press the ‘next’ button; averting your gaze from the screen; going online to vent about the banality of the newest release by your favorite gaming company; breathing with difficulty in shame or shock…. You are working your way through an unplayable game. Labeled banal or boring, or banned by various gamer communities, unplayable games are titles that are received with mixed reviews and that either come with (1) varying degrees of ‘un-play-ability’ inherent in them, or (2) are received by gamer communities as such. Examining a number of digital games, ranging from Everything to September 12th and from Muslim Massacre to Super Columbine Massacre RPG, I wish to theorize a category of games that are at odds with the founding tenets of an industry so narratively and structurally conservative and so entirely profit-driven. To this end, I raise and try to answer a number of questions: What does unplayability in digital games connote? In what respects do playable and unplayable games stand apart? What motivates companies other than financial profitability to produce unplayable games in the first place? In other words, is playable the bare, expected minimum a game has to be in order for it to be marketable? And, finally, once dismissed as ‘unplayable,’ what do we do with unplayable games?

Elisabeth Lehner

Who am I?Elisabeth Lehner

While studying Japanese Studies I discovered that I wanted to work in the field of arts management, which is why I left university with my bachelor’s degree in Japanese Studies and a cultural manager’s certificate. After working with a PR agency for a short period I found a Job at KulturKontakt Austria in the Art Education department. Since a few years I am also studying Art Education on the side. I’m specializing in the interface between digital art/games and education. I’m also highly interested in electronics and DIY.

What’s my job?

I’m bringing all the news and excitement to you via Social Media and the F.R.O.G. Website. Apart from my work for the F.R.O.G. I also do workshops for kids and young adults in the field of digital art education autonomously and on data security with my colleagues at “Bildungsgrund. agency for cultural and media education”. At KulturKontakt Austria I run a program, which supports cooperations between art institutions and schools.

Why am I involved with the FROG?

Since I started following up with games in the art field and in education the F.R.O.G became one of the “to-be” events for me. It is inspiring to see and hear the amazing things that are already being done in this field and learn about the research. I am happy to be part of this conference.

Alltime favourite videogame?

While I love good indie games, that just take you in as a whole and give you a new experience like „What Remains of Edith Finch“ and “The Cat and the Coup” or “Old Man’s Journey”, games that get me really hooked are the ones, that make me work harder: I could play “The Flame in the Flood” and “Star Craft II” all night long and for ever and ever.

Wer bin ich?Elisabeth Lehner

Während meines Japanologie-Studiums stellte ich fest, dass ich im Bereich Kunst- und Kulturmanagement arbeiten möchte, weshalb ich mein Studium nicht nur mit einem Bachelor in Japanologie, sondern auch mit einem Zertifikat für Kulturmanagement abschloss. Nachdem ich kurze Zeit bei einer PR-Agentur tätig war, begann ich bei KulturKontakt Austria in der Abteilung für Kulturvermittlung zu arbeiten. Seit einigen Jahren studiere ich nebenher Kunsterziehung. Ich spezialisiere mich auf die Schnittstelle zwischen digitaler Kunst/Games und Bildung. Ich interessiere mich darüber hinaus für Elektronik und DIY.

Was mache ich?

Ich liefere Neuigkeiten und Vorfreude über die F.R.O.G. Social Media Kanäle und die Website. Abgesehen von meiner Arbeit für die F.R.O.G. halte ich in selbstständiger Tätigkeit Workshops für Kinder und Jugendliche im Bereich digitale Kunsterziehung und mit meinen Kolleg*innen von Bildungsgrund. Agentur für Kultur- und Medienpädagogik zu Datensicherheit. Bei KulturKontakt Austria verwalte ich ein Programm, welches die Zusammenarbeit von Kulturinstitutionen und Schulen unterstützt.

Warum engagiere ich mich für die FROG?

Seit ich begonnen habe, mich mit Games im Bereich Kunst und Bildung auseinanderzusetzen wurde die F.R.O.G. zu einer der zentralen Veranstaltungen in meinem Kalender. Es ist inspirierend zu erfahren, wie viele beeindruckende Projekte es bereits gibt und über die aktuelle Forschung zu erfahren. Ich freue mich, Teil des Teams zu sein.

Alltime favourite videogame?

Ich liebe zwar gute Indie-Games, die einen als Ganzes einnehmen und eine komplett neue Erfahrung mit sich bringen, wie „What Remains of Edith Finch“ und “The Cat and the Coup” oder “Old Man’s Journey”, aber Spiele, die mich richtig fesseln sind jene, die mich dazu bringen, mich so richtig ins Zeug zu legen: Ich könnte „The Flame in the Flood“ und „Star Craft II“ immer und bis in die Nacht spielen.

Katharina Mittlböck

Who am I?Katharina Mittlböck

I am burning for Game Studies, Digital Games & Personality Development / Psyche, learning, playing, research, digital media education & other thrilling stuff.

What’s my job?

Play & learn | digital media education in kindergarten & elementary school | eEducation | teaching & learning with new media | digital competences at the Center for Educational Technology & Innovation at the University College for Teacher Education Vienna.

Why am I involved with the FROG?

Since the first FROG it has been a source of inspiration for me, a chance for networking, and therefore fertile soil for what I am.

Alltime favourite videogame?

Only one?

And the answer should be witty. 😉

Ok, I take Mario Kart on Nintendo. My very first gaming experience about ten years ago – I started rather late – and I had clammy hands and fast heart beats. I promptly knew, how fascinating this media is, what immersion means and how ready to jump in I am. And it got worse since that. 😉

Wer bin ich?

Eine, die brennt für Game Studies, Digitales Spielen & Persönlichkeitsentwicklung / Psyche, lernen, spielen, forschen, digitale Medienbildung & anderes spannendes Zeug.

Was mache ich?

Digital Game Based Learning | digitale Medienbildung in der Elementar- & Primarstufe | eEducation | Lehren und Lernen mit Neuen Medien | digitale Kompetenzen am Zentrum für Lerntechnologie & Innovation an der Pädagogischen Hochschule Wien.

Warum engagiere ich mich für die FROG?

Seit Beginn der FROG war sie für mich Inspirationsquelle, Vernetzungschance und somit Nährboden für vieles, was mich ausmacht!

Alltime favourite videogame?

Nur eines?

Und die Antwort soll originell sein. 😉

Ok, dann entscheide ich mich für Mario Kart auf Nintendo. Meine allererste Spielerfahrung vor etwa 10 Jahren – ja ich war spät dran – und ich hatte feuchte Hände und Herzklopfen. Mir war schlagartig klar, wie faszinierend dieses Medium ist, was Immersion bedeutet und wie bereit ich bin hinein zu kippen. Und es wurde seither schlimmer. 😉

Florian Kelle

Florian KelleFlorian Kelle, former chef, is a master’s student in the Game Studies and Engineering programme at Klagenfurt university. Prior to studying in Klagenfurt, he received a bachelor’s degree in British and American studies from Bielefeld University. His bachelor’s ‘If I Throw a Ball at You, You Could Wait until It Starts Telling a Story – A Ludo-Narratological Approach to Metal Gear Solid 3 and 4’, he concluded his first work on games. Beyond narrative and formalist approaches, he interested procedural literacy and the extra-academic communities of knowledge that arise around videogames. During a seminar he taught on horror in videogames, he has developed an interest in the archaeological implications of exploring games as virtual spaces. Currently, Florian Kelle is working towards his master’s thesis on conducting archaeology in and of videogames.

The Big Dig: On Rethinking Videogames as Nexus

Videogames are cultural artifacts. Just like in the real world, archaeology can be conducted in digital spaces. Recent developments in the archaeological treatment of videogames, archaeogaming, strive to regard videogames as hyperobjects. Whereas this concept does well in accounting for the pervasive nature of videogames, it further complicates how videogames can be interacted with and analysed from an archaeological perspective: What constitutes a videogame? Who is proficient enough to assess the phenomenon? Where do we start when dealing with this unfathomable artifact?

Videogames have traditionally been defined through cultural play theory and medium-specific theories from the school of ludology. Taking into consideration discussions of the magic circle and paratexts, it is evident that there must be more to what constitutes the game. Consequently, demarcating what truly constitutes the digital artifact through established positions becomes difficult.

In my talk, I address the nature of videogames as hyperobjects. First, I look at how archaeology and archaeogaming deal with artifacts. By extending on existing notions of archaeology in and of videogames, I complement theories of archaeogaming with the medium-specific character of play and interaction. Concrete examples from videogames and their contextual surroundings illustrate the extension of the boundaries. I claim that games in the narrow sense should be considered as a nexus for all the features that constitute the artifact ‘game’ as a hyperobject, allowing for archaeology in and of games to be conducted.