Mario Donick

Dr. Mario Donick has studied German language & literature and history at the University of Rostock. He has a PhD in Communication Studies. He works as independent author and researcher. Books and articles on human computer interaction & society, as well as computer games.

The role of money for atmosphere in public transport vehicle simulations

FROG 2023 – Talk

In public transport vehicle simulation games, players can operate trains, trams, buses, subways, or aircraft. Usually, the main focus of these games is driving (or flying) the vehicle itself – we drive the tram or bus for relaxation or to match a schedule; we fly the plane to learn something about aviation or simply for the sake of flying, etc. However, in several simulations, additional tasks are included – such as paying for a bus ticket, controlling passengers for tickets, or paying for aircraft fuel.

This talk discusses selected examples of such money-related side tasks and asks about their function within the game. It has three parts:

1.) Why is it strangely satisfying to give change money to passengers buying tickets from the bus driver? Why is it fun to walk through the bus and identify passengers without tickets? It will be shown that the relevance of money-related side tasks for the main goals of such simulations is usually rather low, but that such tasks add to the perceived atmospheres of the simulated situations.

2.) The atmospheres are not just created by the game itself, but emerge against the background of player’s real-world experiences with public transportation and knowledge about cost-related issues, such as the questionable real-world treatment of passengers without tickets (esp. sometimes poor people end up in jail for not being able to pay for tickets, while still forced to use public transport), or the slowly changing role of money in real-world public transportation (free rides in some places; more affordable monthly tickets). The talk will use the “situation” term in its neo-phenmenological understanding (cf. H. Schmitz, Der Leib, 2011) as triad of “fact” (“Sachverhalt”), “problem” and “program” to identify what makes up the gaming situation (and the role of money in it) and how this leads to the perceived atmospheres.

3.) In the end, the talk asks what would change if money would be removed from such simulations entirely.

Fiona S. Schönberg

Fiona S. Schönberg holds a BA in Film & English Literature Studies, an MA in Mediendramaturgie (Media Dramaturgy). She is a novelist, script writer and (narrative) game designer from Germany, as well as a PhD candidate at Regensburg University and an associated researcher for Regensburg University’s Digital Area Studies Lab.

Life is Cheap – The Cycle of Profit, Investment and (Self) Improvement in Roleplaying Games

FROG 2023 – Talk

Whether it’s Septims or Eurodollars, Nuyen, Bottlecaps, some flavour of Galactic Credit or the ever ubiquitous gold and silver pieces – most roleplaying games, both digital and analogue, feature some form of diegetic currency.
When observing what these games actually permit the players to spend that money on however, a common trend emerges. Even though a wide range of these games feature mechanics to spend money on food, housing, and a number of leisure or luxury items and activities, and even though the accumulation of wealth is presented as an actual diegetic goal in many such games, the vast majority of opportunities to spend money (both in number and quantity) are focused on improving the mechanical efficiency of the player avatar to perform whatever (usually violent mercenary) work they do to earn money to begin with.
This talk will explore the procedural rhetoric of this loop. The loop of all but (mechanically) guaranteed profit, generating money as a diegetic currency of mechanical progression, and specifically how the progression of profit to invest into greater (combat) efficiency, in turn leading to greater profits, closely mirrors capitalist libertarian theories of individual economic progression but eschews the many pitfalls that such theories chafe against outside the realm of gamified fiction.

Pratama Wirya Atmaja

Pratama Wirya Atmaja is a lecturer at the University of Pembangunan Nasional “Veteran” Jawa Timur, Indonesia, with a background in games and software engineering. His research focuses on educational games, interactive narratives, systems thinking, and transmedia learning. He is especially interested in design topics, both theoretical (e.g., the intersection between information, narrative, and interactivity) and practical (e.g., how to connect specific game components to specific components of learning content). He has been a member of ARDIN (Association for Research in Digital Interactive Narratives) and COST Action INDCOR (Interactive Narrative Design for Complexity Representations) since 2022.

Sugiarto (University of Pembangunan Nasional “Veteran” Jawa Timur)
Yisti Vita Via (University of Pembangunan Nasional “Veteran” Jawa Timur)
Hendra Maulana (University of Pembangunan Nasional “Veteran” Jawa Timur)
Dhian Satria Yudha Kartika (University of Pembangunan Nasional “Veteran” Jawa Timur)

How Informative Narrative Game Experts Make or Break Future Society

FROG 2023 – Talk

The uses of games have increasingly become ubiquitous, a phenomenon termed “cultural ludification” (Karhulahti, 2015). Thus, game-related expertise and professions may eventually become essential in society. However, since “games” encompass a wide variety of playable media, the quality may not apply to all subsets of the expertise. Here, we argue that expertise in informative narrative games (INGs) is the most likely to be future-proof. We sharpen our argument by specifying the kind of INGs with the deepest social impact: those representing complexity through intrinsic integration between their information, narrative, and interactivity aspects (Atmaja & Sugiarto, 2022). Taking cues from scholars such as Klabbers (2018), we propose that realizing such INGs requires expertise spanning four domains: content, development, media, and consumption. Each entails specific professions, some of which are currently uncommon in games. Lastly, we discuss leveraging 21st-century education to prepare the young generation for the professions.

Benjamin Hanussek

Benjamin Hanussek is Head of PJAIT Game Lab at the Polish-Japanese Academy of Information Technology in Warsaw, where he acts as project-coordinator, lecturer, and research advisor in the New Media Arts Department for Game Studies & Design. His work emphasizes pragmatic and industry-aligned approaches in game studies, facilitating exchange between academia, cultural institutions and game studios. Moreover, he works as LQA Testing Associate at Lionbridge Games, reviewing indie and AAA localizations for publishers including Team17, THQ Nordic, and Bandai/Namco.

Yaraslau Kot, Tallinn University

Brace Yourselves, AI Is Coming: How Artificial Intelligence is going to increase revenue and transform jobs in the games industry

FROG 2023 – Talk

This paper critically assesses the impending impact of artificial intelligence (AI) integration on revenue generation and employment dynamics within the games industry through literature review, comparative analysis and qualitative interviews. AI’s role in optimizing production processes presents a compelling avenue for revenue augmentation. Leveraging AI for procedural content generation (i.e., visual, textual) or automated quality assurance holds potential to streamline development cycles, improve efficiency, and bolster creative outputs. However, these advancements also spotlight concerns related to job displacement. Therefore, the adoption of AI technology prompts a critical examination of the evolving employment landscape. Yet, opportunities arise for the industry to transition toward more specialized roles; roles focused on instructing AI, analysing and iterating its generated content. By conducting a literature review in the domain of Game Production Studies and drawing parallels to the transformative effect of the introduction of the Unity game engine in 2005, this study examines the dual prospects of enhanced revenue streams through production process optimization and looming job displacement. Furthermore, through qualitative expert interviews with three industry professionals from different areas (Game Design, Project Management, HR) further insight shall be taken into account. AI’s integration will ultimately reshape the industry’s landscape by enhancing revenue streams through efficiency gains but to which extent and cost? The importance of workforce adaptation is critical, emphasizing the need for strategic planning of both employers and employees to navigate the delicate balance between technological advancement and the preservation of jobs in the games industry.