In the blog you find all abstracts of all FROG contributions as well as short biographies of the speakers since 2017. Please use the navigation to access individual entries or use the links in the conference programme.

Eugen Pfister

Project Lead of the SNF Ambizione research project “Horror – Game – Politics”. Researches the History of Political Ideas in Video Games. Studied History and Political Sciences at the University of Vienna and at the Université de Paris IV- Sorbonne. Wrote his Ph.D. in History of the Political Communication at the University of Frankfurt am Main and at the University of Trento.

The Austrian games industry and the free market economy 1991-2006. A political history of ideas.

FROG 2020 – Keynote

The Austrian games industry was particularly successful with business simulations and construction games. In these games we got to know the beautiful new economic world of the post-cold war period in a playful way: Capital had to be increased, production expanded, profits maximised and competition eliminated. During their heyday, the Austrian developer scene were honoured with state and federal awards, and Austrian politicians presented themselves to the press together with “their” shooting stars. After various bankruptcies, takeovers and company dissolutions, the young model entrepreneurs disappeared just as quickly from the collective memory. It is remarkable that this peak phase of Austrian game production took place at the same time as a political transition phase of Austria, which has not yet been studied much. After the end of the Cold War, Austria joined the European Union. In addition to the paradigm shift in foreign policy, there were also far-reaching changes on the social and economic policy side. For example, the privatisation of Austria Tabakwerke, Telekom and Post took place between 1991 and 2006. In addition, Austrian federal governments have adopted several austerity packages since 1995. It can therefore be said that the development of the Austrian game industry took place in a time of political and social change. In this sense, it is necessary to examine whether the games that emerged can also be read as a sources of direct contemporary Austrian history.


Doris Rusch & Andrew Phelps

Dr. Doris C. Rusch is a game designer / researcher with a humanities background who holds a position as Senior Lecturer in Game Design at Uppsala University. Her games have won numerous awards and she has been an international keynote speaker and presenter including Clash of Realities, DiGRA, Game Developers Conference, Meaningful Play, Nordic Game Conference, FDG and TEDx. She authored Making Deep Games – Designing Games with Meaning and Purpose (Taylor & Francis 2017).

Andrew “Andy” Phelps is a designer and professor at the Human Interface Technology Laboratory NZ (HITLabNZ) within the College of Engineering at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand where he explores virtual and augmented reality, games and education, and art and interactive media experiences. He is also a professor in the Film & Media Arts division of the School of Communication, holds a joint appointment in the Department of Computer Science, and is the director of the AU Game Lab at American University in Washington DC, USA. Prior to these appointments he served as a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology where he was the founding director of the School of Interactive Games & Media, the RIT Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction & Creativity, and MAGIC Spell Studios. Phelps is also currently president of the Higher Education Video Game Alliance (HEVGA), and his work in games is recognized internationally, has been presented at numerous academic conferences, published in multiple books and journals, and is supported by grants from multiple federal agencies as well as industry. His latest game is Fragile Equilibrium (XBOX, Steam, Itch.io 2019), and he maintains a website of his publications, popular
writing, artwork, curriculum development, and more at andyworld.io.

Games of the Soul

FROG 2020 – Keynote

This talk explores a design framework for creating existential, transformative games – games that directly engage the player in the contemplation of life – with the ostensible goals of reflection, awareness, empathy, and growth.  Through this work, we seek to re-contextualize games as experiential, expressive works of art that can move us profoundly and evoke lasting inner shifts. These existential media experiences engage their players directly in the consideration of the human condition writ large, our position in the universe, the role and meaning of our lives and relationships in ways that are complex and at once both deeply personal, and resonant across the human experience. In considering a design framework for creating games of this type, our work draws from the theory and practice of existential psychotherapy and its main themes and goals to inform the conception of game ideas and gameplay experiences. In examining the design of these games with the goal of theorizing a design framework, several elements emerge:

The first is that several of these games use myth to communicate existential ideas in a way that speaks to the unconscious and encourages self-reflection and environmental awareness.  In this manner these games can be said to ‘resonate’ with their players in ways that use a shared culture, vocabulary, and societal backdrop to convey ideas well beyond and below the surface of the initial role of myth as a social, cultural, narrative, or aesthetic tool in game design.  These games use myth as a shortcut to the contemplation of the spiritual, to questions of existence.

The second is that, often in combination with myth, these games are deeply rooted in ritual (both in their play and, in a certain sense, their creation).  The repeated patterns of game play speak to the way repeated patterns, symbols, and practices draw players into channels of thought and reflection in ways so deeply human.  These games use myth and ritual as existential navigation and personal calibration tools, and in this manner exhibit similar characteristics to the practice of psychotherapy.

Third, these games can be said to be a form of ‘experiential’ game in which the true narrative and purpose of the game is never overtly stated, and indeed is rarely an explicit narrative at all, but rather seeks to be felt rather than read.  These games focus on the experiential nature of the game itself as it is played, seeking to convey their messages and resonances through this very act, to be evocative, and to invite emotional reflection and response via metaphor.

Given these elements and understanding their criticality, how do we go about creating new myths, in creating new resonances?  What practices can help designers create more and better work in this area? This talk explores these questions in depth, presents early work on our theory of design for effective games of this type, and ponders the nudge that games can give us, when we listen, for meaningful, transformational change.


Sonja Gabriel

Sonja Gabriel has been a professor for media literacy at KPH Vienna/Krems since 2017. She teachers pre-service and in-service teachers for all kind of schools. Apart from using digital media for teaching and learning and media literacy her focus is on digital games and their potential for education. Moreover, she also researches and teaches on media ethics with a special focus on the potential of teaching values via digital games and the darker sides of games and gaming communities like hate-speech.

Hate Speech in Digital Games – Are Online Games a Place of Discrimination and Exclusion?

FROG 2020 – Keynote

The last years have shown various incidents of hostility, racism and hate-speech in many (online) games. Hate-speech always includes verbal attacks in writing or speaking or other kind of behavior that attacks a certain group of people. Discriminatory language, stereotypes and abuses are often used referring to a person (or a group of persons) because of their religion, ethnicity, gender, nationality and so on. Especially, multiplayer games which include a lot of communication as part of their game mechanics are a source of hate-speech. As these games are becoming more and more popular among players of all ages (also among very young gamers), you can find numerous examples of so called toxic environments, meaning game-communities or affinity spaces where certain groups of people are insulted, excluded or discriminated against. But not only in-game communication provides examples of verbal attacks but also in forums and community-spaces which are often provided for popular (online)games are a source of hate-speech. These affinity spaces are based upon communication and social interaction. Also platforms like YouTube or Twitch provide many examples of videos and streams containing hate-speech. Game companies and providers of gaming platforms always provide a code of conduct which is obligatory to obey by players. If these rules are violated, however, consequences for players are quite different – depending on the provider. Sometimes violations are not punished at all. Many platforms already have included mechanisms to report incidents of hate-speech. However, there are still many steps to go to make gaming more inclusive and less toxic.


Agata Waszkiewicz

Image from Agata Waszkiewicz

Agata Waszkiewicz is a PhD candidate researching independent video games. Their two main areas of interest include the formal experiments in metareferential games and the representation of non-normative identities in them. They published in several international journals including Game Studies, Journal of Game Criticism, and Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds. They are currently working on the upcoming book Delicious Pixels: Food in Video Games to be published in 2022 as part of Video Games and the Humanities series by De Gruyter.

Playing with Identities in Metareferential Video Games

FROG 2020 – Keynote

Although metareferential games still remain a niche, there has been a significant raise in their popularity over the past decade. Often created by individual creators or small studios, these games employ a range of formal devices through which they point to their own materiality and fictionality, confronting players with their preconceptions of the genres and subverting their expectations towards the play experience. It can be argued that, like postmodern literature and film which often used the experiment for its own sake as means of pushing the boundaries of the medium, these titles aim at defamiliarizing the players in order to force them to engage with the text in a more critical manner. Although it would appear that the majority of these experiments are formal or aesthetic in nature, in this presentation I will scrutinize the cases in which developers utilized them to represent the marginalized, oppressed, and non-normative identities.


Dejan Lukovic

Dejan Lukovic (born 03.08.1994) earned his bachelor’s degree in German Studies at the Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck and is enrolled in the two master programs “Media” and “Comparative Literary Studies”. He is currently working on his master thesis about human-machine-interactions in speedrunning.


Gotta Go Fast – Human-Machine-Interaction in Speedrunning

Lecture,  Sunday, 20th October, 17:00 – 17:30

This paper focuses on the question of how one can make sense of the human-machine-interaction in speedrunning, especially in speedruns of virtual reality games. For this purpose, speedrunning is conceptualized as the act of completing a goal (most often a game) as fast as possible under certain rules as defined by the corresponding community of speedrunners.

In this endeavour to reach the fastest possible time speedrunners approach games differently to so called “casual runs” (normal playthroughs) and this fact thus changes how the runners and the machines are interacting with each other. Especially these changes in how runners act together with the machine are the focus of this paper, exemplified by the analysis of how these changes occur and how they can be described.

The hypothesis of this paper then is, that there are three distinct kinds of human-machine-interactions which occur during speedrunning and which depend on each other to constitute the phenomenon known as speedrunning. These findings will be accompanied by examples and analysis of speedruns – especially of virtual reality games – and the practices which runners perform within each speedrunning-community. This approach will allow for a better understanding of what happens during speedrunning, what it means to do so and how humans and machines interact while doing so.

Stefan Ancuta, David Praschak und Maximilian Schmidt

David Praschak ist Student der Geschichte im Bachelor an der Universität Wien. Er ist seit Jahren begeisterter Gamer und verbindet dies mit seinem Interesse für Geschichte. Sein Fokus liegt vor allem auf der Einschätzung von Authentizität in historischen Spielen.

Stefan Ancuta studiert an der Universität Wien Geschichte im Master und hat eine langjährige Leidenschaft für Spiele. Sein Interesse gilt vor allem dem Umgang mit Vergangenheit und der Darstellung von Mythen in Videospielen.

Max Schmidt ist Masterstudent der Geschichte mit einem globalgeschichtlichen Schwerpunkt. Er interessiert sich für Spiele im Zusammenhang mit historischen Themen.


Fortschritt und Kontrolle in Videospielen

Vortrag,  Sonntag 20. Oktober, 16:30 – 17:00

Spiele vermitteln uns im Rahmen ihrer Erzählweise ein Narrativ, welchem oft eine progressiv-kompetitive Struktur zugrunde liegt. So werden Zivilisationen als miteinander konkurrierend, Ressourcen als finit, Punkte als strategisch und Militär als eine Notwendigkeit dargestellt. Die Herangehensweise des Spielers, seine Strategie, wird von den Gesetzen des Spiels in bestimmte Bahnen gelenkt. Auch die Perspektive des Spielers beeinflusst diese (Selbst-)Wahrnehmung nachhaltig: In Strategiespielen schaut der Spieler oft von oben herab, wobei diese „top-down“ Perspektive auf das Spielgeschehen auch die Problematisierung und ihre Lösungsansätze definiert. In unserem Vortrag werden wir beleuchten, wie Spiele diese Struktur nutzen, aber auch, wie man versucht diese zu überwinden.

Matthias Treitler

Matthias TreitlerMag. Matthias Treitler ist Masterstudent der Kartographie & Geoinformation an der Universität Wien. Er schloss das Lehramtsstudium für Geographie & Wirtschaftskunde sowie Geschichte, Sozialkunde & Politische Bildung an der Universität Wien im Jahr 2018 ab. Im Zuge der Diplomarbeit forscht er an digitalen Bildungsmedien, allen voran der immersiven virtuellen Realität, woraus die Diplomarbeit mit dem Titel “Immersive „Virtual Reality“-Lernanwendungen – Entwicklungsgrundlagen und Implementation einer Webapplikation für den Geographie- und Wirtschaftskundeunterricht zum Thema Klima” entstanden ist.

Matthias Treitler kann bis dato auf eine 15 jährige professionelle Software-Entwickler Karriere zurückblicken. Sein Interesse zur virtuellen Realität hat mit der Einführung der Google Cardboard begonnen. Seit über zwei Jahren arbeitet er nun im Zuge seiner Forschung sowie in seiner Freizeit an dem “VRoodles” Projekt, welches webbasierte Lernanwendungen im Medium der immersiven virtuellen Realität zur Verfügung stellt. Diese können frei über https://vroodl.es abgerufen werden.

Seine Lernanwendungen wurden bereits bei den Digital Days der Stadt Wien (https://digitalcity.wien/digital-days-2018/), dem Forschungsfest der Stadt Wien (https://wirtschaftsagentur.at/technologie/technologie-erleben/forschungsfest-on-tour/) , sowie in diversen LehrerInnenfortbildung mithilfe der eEducation Austria präsentiert. Er hält laufend Workshops in vielen Schulen um dort einerseits das Medium der immersiven virtuellen Realität zu propagieren und andererseits die Praxistauglichkeit des Mediums an konkreten Unterrichtsszenarien zu evaluieren.


Mobile immersive Virtual Reality Lernanwendungen im Schulunterricht

Präsentation von Nachwuchwissenschaftler/innen,  Sonntag 20. Oktober, 16:15 – 16:30

Virtual Reality (VR) hat das Potenzial sich als ein praktikables e-Learning Medium im nationalen bzw. internationalen Bildungssektor zu etablieren. Diese Ansicht habe ich im Rahmen meiner Diplomarbeit mit dem Titel “Immersive „Virtual Reality“-Lernanwendungen – Entwicklungsgrundlagen und Implementation einer Webapplikation für den Geographie- und Wirtschaftskundeunterricht zum Thema Klima” für das Lehramtsstudium der Geographie & Wirtschaftskunde herausgefunden.

Zentrale Fragestellungen meiner Forschung sind: Die Darlegung der optimalen Verwendung von VR Medien im Schulunterricht, auch im Kontext der Gamification sowie die Konzipierung einer Lernanwendung im Medium der immersiven virtuellen Realität im allgemeinen sowie speziell für den Geographie & Wirtschaftskunde Unterricht. In den letzten Jahren wurde der Einsatz von Virtual Reality (VR) in Lehr- und Lernszenarien zu einer praktikablen und leistbaren Option. Dies ist in erster Linie dem Konzept der mobilen VR Geräte wie der Google Cardboard (Erscheinungsjahr 2015) geschuldet, welche die Verwendung dieses komplexens Mediums, durch eine einfache Pappkartonhalterung gepaart mit einem Mittelklasse-Smartphone ermöglicht.

Obwohl die Zahl der verfügbaren Anwendungen für mobiles VR im Steigen begriffen ist, sind viele nicht von zufriedenstellendem pädagogischem Wert. Das Ziel der Forschung ist es daher, VR-Lernumgebungen zu entwickeln, welche Konzepte der Gamification und Immersion beinhalten und eine hohe Praxistauglichkeit im alltäglichen Unterrichten bieten. Im Zuge der Forschung wurden Kriterien dazu entwickelt.

Als Resultat wurde ein Produkt namens VRoodles (https://vroodl.es) geschaffen, welche webbasierte VR-Applikation für Low Cost VR-Systeme anbietet und damit auch in Mobile Learning Szenarien einsetzbar ist. Die Anwendungen laufen zur Gänze im Webbrowser und können unabhängig vom Gerätetyp und -betriebssystem verwendet werden. Die dahinterliegenden Eingabemöglichkeiten wie Maus, Tastatur, Lagesensorik und Displaytechnologie werden adaptiv je nach Verfügbarkeit verwendet.

Sarah Wagner

Sarah WagnerSince 2018 Sarah Wagner is a Fellow at Teach for Austria and works as a teacher at a new secondary school in the 2nd district of Vienna, where she is currently teaching German, art and sport.

Before finding her passion as a teacher, she completed a Master in Work and Organizational Psychology at the University of Nottingham and a Bachelor degree in International Business and Economics at Vienna University of Economics and Business. She spent one and half years of her education abroad and did various internships in different fields including psychology, advertising and research.


The world of Classcraft – online gamification as a game changer in the classroom

Practional Presentation,  Sunday, 20th October, 16:00 – 16:15

Does an online gamification tool like Classcraft affect the motivation of students between the ages of twelve and fourteen? How does it affect their perception of being treated fairly by the teacher?

As a teacher at a new secondary school in Vienna I was looking for a tool to motivate my students to participate more actively during German classes. I wanted to find something that would reflect their everyday reality to gain their attention and awaken their interest. Hence, I introduced Classcraft, a classroom management tool from the U.S., which offers a ready to use online set up that can be adapted to the teacher’s needs.

Every student gets to choose one out of three different characters with different powers and different baselines of XP, HP and AP. To choose the most appropriate avatar, they have to figure out their strengths and weaknesses while also finding the right balance of characters within their groups. Moreover their participation or non participation as well as their general behavior are visualized and they can track it on their phones or PCs. On top of that a predefined level can be set as a goal for all groups, which if met will lead to a real life award.

All in all, thanks to Classcraft I could see an improvement especially in the participation of quiet students and a greater acceptance of consequences e.g. detention as their behavior was much more visible to them and the consequences chosen by a random generator of the game.

Christoph Kaindel

Christoph KaindelChristoph Kaindel ist Medienvermittler, Medienbastler, Grafiker und Cartoonist. In der Redaktion von mediamanual ist er für die Koordination der Aktionswoche “Woche der Medienkompetenz” zuständig. Er lebt in Gablitz bei Wien

 

 

 


Von BSP bis Diamond Square – Methoden zur prozeduralen Level-Generierung

Praktische Präsentation,  Sonntag 20. Oktober, 15:15 – 15:30

Im Zusammenhang mit einem privaten Roguelike-Projekt beschäftige ich mich seit einiger Zeit mit Algorithmen zur prozeduralen Generierung von Spielbereichen. Sie alle haben Stärken und Schwächen; manche eignen sich besser für „natürliche” Höhlensysteme, andere für Flusstäler, Minen, Siedlungen oder Landschaften. Manche sind besser zu konfigurieren, andere erzeugen spannende, aber möglicherweise ungeeignete Resultate.

Um zu verstehen, wie diese Algorithmen funktionieren und welche Ergebnisse sie hervorbringen, habe ich eine interaktive Webseite entwickelt, die ich in diesem Beitrag vorstelle. Einige gängige Methoden zur prozeduralen Level-Generierung – Random Walk, Binary Space Partitioning, Cellular Automata etc. – können dort ausprobiert und dabei zahlreiche Parameter eingestellt werden. So ist es möglich zu testen, welche Vorgangsweise für das eigene Spielprojekt am besten geeignet sein könnte.