Damian Stewart

Damian Stewart is a New Zealand-born Wiener. As well as being a veteran of the Austrian and New Zealand game industries, he has worked as a software engineer for interactive design, AR and VR projects, and as a professional artist and musician. Damian is currently studying toward an MA in Anglophone Literatures and Cultures at the University of Vienna.



“This Is For The Players”: Industry Construction of the “Gamer” Identity

Lecture,  Saturday, 19th October, 15:30 – 16:00

In 2019, almost everybody plays videogames. However, the dominant cultural narrative around videogames says something different: the stereotypical “gamer” is still an under-socialized straight white young man playing with toys in the basement. Negative stigma leaves many players unwilling to self-identify as “gamers”; those who are willing to do so often work to reinforce the stereotype (despite its negative connotations) by actively excluding those who do not “fit”.

Drawing from a growing body of recent scholarship that examines the behaviours and identities of players often subject to exclusion from videogame culture (such as women, queer people, and people of colour), the present work argues that the “gamer” identity is a subcultural formation constructed by and for the benefit of the videogame industry, and that the cultural idea of the “videogame” exists hand-in-hand with the stereotype of the “gamer”.

To illustrate this process, an analysis of selected scenes from the film Wine Country (2019) and the TV programme Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (2017) reveals how these media construct a “gamer” identity in tandem with a particular conception of the videogame as a cultural artefact. Comparison with industry practises and “gamer” behaviours suggests a similar parallel construction of identity and cultural artefact at work in the videogame industry; here, however, the reality of a broad, diverse audience of videogame players renders such constructions inherently contradictory. This causes ongoing conflict and exclusion and ultimately stunts artistic growth within the medium; until it is addressed, irrespective of technological improvement, the promise of videogames will remain unfulfilled.

Harald Koberg

Harald KobergHarald is a games researcher, media pedagogue and cultural mediator based in Graz, Austria. He works for the Styrian Government as an expert in digital culture.

At Ludovico – an NGO focusing on the culture and pedagogics of play – he is responsible for digital play and organizes the annual button Festival of Gaming Culture. And at the Institute of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Graz he is currently finishing his doctoral thesis on the interplay of digital games and their social surroundings.

Men at Play – Analyzing games as masculine retreats

Lecture,  Saturday, 19th October, 15:00 – 15:30

Over decades games have grown to be playgrounds of masculinity. Much of their narratives and visual design cater to concepts of male heroism and the heterosexual, male gaze. Their communities are dominated by men and have in many ways proven to react questionably to female presence and, obviously, feminist criticism. The same people who argue that it’s “just about games” become very emotional and determined when defending these games against change.

Feminist criticism has, in many aspects of social life, forced patriarchal structures to justify themselves, questioning existing norms of male behavior and power. Digital games, at the same time, offer what can be described as counter-places – places people turn to when they feel pressure or experience too little freedom and agency in other parts of their lives. Over decades they have become retreats for what is perceived to be traditional masculinity. While being part of the internationally dominating group of white, heterosexual males, many players do not experience themselves to be powerful outside of game worlds.

This talk will link what has repeatedly been described as a crisis of masculinity to gaming culture and Gamergate. Looking at games as phenomena between heterotopia and utopia it will take into account Juul’s concept of games as half-real in order to offer an interpretation of their role in the bigger context of a fast changing society.

Christina Obmann

Christina ObmannChristina Obmann has completed her bachelor’s degrees in English and American Studies (thesis on the portrayal of chattel slavery in video games, specifically in Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag: Freedom Cry) as well as Media and Communication Studies (thesis on the ‘zombie’ and the The Walking Dead-franchise as serialized transmedia experiences) at the Alpen-Adria Universität Klagenfurt.

Currently, she is working on completing her master’s degrees in English as well as Game Studies and Engineering in Klagenfurt, while also being engaged as a student assistant at the Department of English and the Department of Science, Technology and Society Studies. As a tutor, she is co-hosting the Klagenfurt Critical Game Labs, where she helps fellow students practice critical game analysis.

With an academic background of Cultural, Media and Gender Studies, her research interests in Game Studies include issues of gender and race, ethics, as well as affective game design. When she is not playing, learning, writing, teaching, or talking about games, she is also an avid creator of cosplays, comics, and illustrations.

Gender Portrayals in Video Games: a Reflection of Production Contexts?

Junior-Keynote,  Saturday, 19th October, 14:00 – 15:00

While it is still not uncommon to view the content of video games as isolated entity (cue ‘It’s just a game’), video games are products of specific circumstances and they also affect players in various ways. If we consider video games to be cultural objects, it becomes clear that in order to understand them in their entirety we need to consider the socio-cultural and industrial context surrounding and giving birth to them.

The production context of video games has been – and still is – overwhelmingly male-dominated, with a lack of diversity that is then reflected in the games’ nature and content. Especially the representation of gender has long been a problematic issue: From a sheer lack of representation and marginalization, up to stereotypical or even demeaning portrayals of women in games, distinct patterns of gender portrayals have been observed continually.

In this talk, I want to recapitulate patterns of female representation (and the implications thereof) and suggest a way of content analysis to fully capture the specifics of the medium. I will highlight the connection between production circumstances in real life and the (virtual) content of video games. With an exemplary analysis of female player characters in games by the French studio Quantic Dream I want to support my argument that the background of developers influences the portrayal of gender in – for female characters – often stereotypical if not harming ways.

Achim Birkner

Achim BirknerBirkner, Achim, MA, Lehrkraft für besondere Aufgaben am Lehrstuhl Medien- und Erwachsenenbildung, Fakultät für Humanwissenschaften, Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Madgeburg.

Arbeitsschwerpunkte: Erfahrungsorientierte Hochschuldidaktik; Wissenschaftlich-technologische Grundlagen der Digitalisierung; Machine Learning in erziehungswissenschaftlichen Kontexten; Handlungsorientierte Medien- und Computerpädagogik mit älteren Erwachsenen

Augmented Experience und nicht Augmented Reality

Vortrag,  Samstag 19. Oktober, 12:30 – 13:00

In diesem Vortrag werden die erkenntnistheoretischen und -logischen Grundsätze Immanuel Kants in Zusammenhang mit Augmented Reality gebracht. Laut Kant sei Erkenntnis direkt an Erfahrung gebunden. Erfahrung wiederum stehe in direkter Abhängigkeit zu den Grundzügen menschlicher Wahrnehmung.

Um zu verdeutlichen, welche Einflüsse Augmented Reality Technologien auf menschliche Erkenntnis haben können, werden in diesem Vortrag eingangs die Grenzen menschlicher Wahrnehmung entlang sensorischer Limitationen des Menschen verdeutlicht. Im zweiten Schritt werden die naturwissenschaftlich-physikalischen Phänomene betrachtet, auf denen digitale Technologien aufsetzen und es wird deutlich gemacht, ab wann für den Menschen Wahrnehmung nur noch mithilfe technischer Hilfsmittel möglich ist. Konkret wird hierzu vor Ort demonstriert, welche optischen und akustischen Limitationen der Mensch besitzt und in welchen Frequenzbereichen Signale vorhanden sind, die ihn jederzeit umgeben.

1. Es werden akustische Signale wahrnehmbar gemacht, die für den Menschen nicht hörbar sind.
2. Es wird Licht in einer Wellenlänge benutzt, die für den Menschen unsichtbar ist, aber von Kamerasensoren erfasst werden kann (Nachtsicht mit Infrarotlicht von einer Wellenlänge von  940nm).
3. Es werden Signale sichtbar gemacht, die im elektromagnetischen Frequenzband vor Ort vorhanden sind (per Software Defined Radio).

Im dritten Teil der Präsentation wird erörtert, wie mithilfe von AR menschliche Wahrnehmung augmentiert werden kann und wie der Mensch dies gewinnbringend zur Erkenntnisgewinnung einsetzen kann. Dabei wird sich an Beispielen aus Computerspielen orientiert. Beispiele wären Minimaps, Radarähnliche Indikatoren, Richtungsanzeigen, Lage und Ausrichtungsdarstellung u.A..

Michael Fleischhacker

Mein Name ist Michael Fleischhacker und ich bin Lehrer an einer Neuen Mittelschule in Wien – Floridsdorf. Ich unterrichte in einer sogenannten Brennpunktschule. Dies bedeutet, dass ich in meinem Unterricht mit Kindern konfrontiert bin, welche aufgrund ihrer Lebens- und Sozialbindungen einen erschwerten Start in ihrer Schullaufbahn haben. Wie viele Lehrer und Lehrerinnen in der NMS unterrichte ich unterschiedlichste Fächer. Flipped Classroom habe ich jedoch in den Fächern Mathematik, Geographie, technisches Zeichnen, und Werken angewandt.

Wie jeder anderen Lehrperson ist es auch mir wichtig, jede einzelne Person bestmöglich zu fördern. Durch unterschiedliche Sprachen, Auffassungsvermögen und Motivation ist das jedoch nicht immer sehr einfach und an Schwierigkeiten gekoppelt. Aus diesem Grund war ich vor einigen Jahren auf der Suche nach einer Lernmethode, welche es mir ermöglicht, innere Differenzierung als Differenzierung im Klassenraum umzusetzen.
Die Philosophie, welche hinter Flipped Classroom steht, ermöglicht mir dies und noch viel mehr. So ist es mir nun möglich, auch vermehrt spielerisch zu arbeiten. Die Verbreitung digitaler Medien ermöglicht uns noch nie dagewesene Möglichkeiten und gerade diese wollte ich in meinem Unterricht einbringen.

Da Spielen sowie Computerspielen zur lebenswert unserer Kinder gehört, versuche ich auch analoge wie digitale Spiele in den Lernprozess einzubinden.

Augmented Reality in Kombination mit Minecraft in der Primarstufe

Praktische Präsentation,  Samstag 19. Oktober, 12:15 – 12:30

Medien – Wissen – Bildung: Augmentierte und virtuelle Wirklichkeiten

Dieses AR Projekt ist konzipiert für die Primarstufe, kann jedoch genauso in der Sekundarstufe I und II umgesetzt werden. Dieses Projekt bietet Schulklassen die Möglichkeit AR nicht nur zu erleben, sondern auch aktiv zu gestalten. Inhaltlicher Ausgangspunkt ist eine Computerspielwelt in der eine Stadt mit einer Stadtmauer zu sehen ist, mit Hilfe dessen die SchülerInnen die Veränderungen in Wien um 1900 spielerisch und immersiv erleben können.

Ziel des Projektes ist es, nicht nur technisches Know How und digitale Kompetenzen für die partizipierenden Klasse zu schaffen, sondern auch Inhalte zu generieren, die im Schulgebäude zeigt und / oder an umliegenden Schulen weitergegeben und genutzt werden können. Unser pädagogisch-didaktischer Zugang ist es, SchülerInnen selbstorganisiertes, selbstreguliertes und selbstbestimmtes Lernen zu ermöglichen. In der letzten Umsetzungsphase transferieren wir den Inhalt auf eine reflektive Ebene, indem die TeilnehmerInnen anderen Klassen ihr Projekt

Benedikt Pielenz

Benedikt Pielenz ist studierter Pädagoge (BA) und Studierender der Bildungswissenschaften (MA) an der Technischen Universität in Darmstadt.

Er ist ausgebildeter Schreiner, Systemischer Berater, Schreibberater und Team-Supervisor. Mit Hilfe seiner mannigfaltigen Fähigkeiten berät, trainiert und vidiert er neben seinem Studium hauptsächlich Studierende, hauptsächlich in der interdisziplinären Zusammenarbeit.

Seine Forschungsschwerpunkte liegen in den Bereichen Medienpädagogik, emanzipatorische Pädagogik, pädagogische Anthropologie und Geschichte der Technik.

EU-Kulturgut: Digital Games & Disability

Vortrag von NachwuchswissenschaftlerInnen,  Samstag 19. Oktober, 12:00 – 12:15

Die Partizipation von Kindern an digitalen Spielen hat sich in den Jahren seit 2012 vervierfacht und jugendliche SpielerInnen spielen seit 2011 doppelt so häufig. Dabei identifizieren sich laut einer Umfrage aus 2008 – aktuellere Daten fehlen – rund zwanzig Prozent der VideospielerInnen als Menschen mit Behinderung. Die wachsende Teilnahme an Computerspielen bleibt politisch und wirtschaftlich nicht unbemerkt. Die Europäische Union (EU) nahm 2013 Videospiele offiziell in den Kultur- und Kreativsektor auf. Bereits 2011 wurde obendrein begonnen, die Entwicklung von Computerspielen wirtschaftlich zu fördern. Aber wie geht die EU mit der Partizipation von Menschen mit Behinderung um?

Eine Rolle zur Beantwortung dieser Frage spielen assistive Technologien, sie sind für VideospielerInnen mit Behinderung besonders relevant. Denn können sie Menschen mit Behinderung helfen, digitale Spiele auch noch nach ihrer Veröffentlichung spielbar zu machen. Die EU verpflichtet sich 2015 sogar zur Angleichung der Rechts- und Verwaltungsvorschriften der Mitgliedstaaten über die Anforderungen von Barrierefreiheit für Produkte und Dienstleistungen – bezogen unter anderem auf Hard- und Software. Wenn wir weiter in die Gegenwart blicken, wie steht es denn 2019 um die Entwicklung einer möglichst barrierefreien mixed-reality?

Insgesamt spiegeln die Beschlüsse, Berichte und Forderungen der europäischen Kultur- und Kreativwirtschaft nur ein geringes Interesse am Thema Menschen mit Behinderung und mixed-reality wider. Letztlich können Menschen mit Behinderung kaum als interessant für die Kulturpolitik und den Mainstream an technischen Entwicklungen rund um das Thema mixed-reality identifiziert werden. Aber gibt es auch Gegenbeispiele, die einen Kurs der Inklusion und Partizipation von Menschen mit Behinderung in die Welt der mixed-reality in Aussicht stellen.

Frank Fetzer

Frank FetzerFrank Fetzer is a PhD candidate in the last year at the University of Vienna. He holds a master’s degree in film studies from the same institution. His work focuses mainly on phenomenological and post-phenomenological theories. Key elements of his research are embodiment, human-technology relations, cyborgs, the ontology of virtual worlds and of course the video game as such. In his dissertation project, he tries to disentangle the manifold relations between player and video game as technological artefact and extension of player and world.

Mixed Reality is already there! The Player’s Body as Foundation of the Video Game Experience

Lecture,  Saturday, 19th October, 11:30 – 12:00

The different ontological status of the virtual gameworld and the material world has frequently led to a certain disregard of the player’s lived body on the one hand (all the action takes place in the game world) and to contemptful indifference towards the gameworld on the other (It’s not real! Why bother?).

Employing the phenomenology of French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty (Merleau-Ponty, 2012) I will argue that these two planes of existence are completely interwoven in the act of playing, that gaming is an activity deeply grounded in the carnal Being-in-the-World and that virtual action, as it is based on the subject’s lived body, is no more real or unreal than physical action.

Taking Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s notion, that “[m]y body is wherever it has something to do” (Merleau-Ponty, 2012) as a starting point, I will – with the help of Don Ihde’s and Peter-Paul Verbeek’s post-phenomenological analyses (Ihde, 1979, 1990; Verbeek, 2008) – sketch a framework for closing the ontic difference between physical and virtual worlds via the lived body’s capacity to incorporate technological artifacts. Playing a video game necessarily means to extend the body into the virtual and it is for that reason that indeed we have to conceive playing video games as a mixed reality experience.

Alexia Bhéreur-Lagounaris

Alexia Bhéreur-Lagounaris

Alexia Bhéreur-Lagounaris has a multidisciplinary professional background that includes music, writing, dance and choreography before becoming an event creator and a game designer.

Trained at Montreal’s contemporary dance school, she performed for many productions, was an Art Scout for Cirque du Soleil, a creative director, scriptwriter for Radio-Canada, Wasabi, Lalala Human Steps and event creator for Québec Cinéma. She’s also a research geek Wizard at INRS (Institut national de la recherche scientifique) and her expertise in human-centric design is used in all her projects where collaboration and collective intelligence is enhance. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in interactive multimedia communication from UQAM and a master’s degree M.Sc. A. in games with a social impact from University of Montréal. In 2016, she founded her game events productions with ABLBLALAB, and creates social games, gives workshops, coaching and conferences.

WARNING: Not suitable for robots

Keynote,  Saturday, 19th October, 10:30 – 11:30

In her 2018 thesis: « Games with a social impact: towards a new name for a Responsible entertainment » Alexia Bhéreur-Lagounaris concludes that the future of game design innovation needs a change of axis from the “game object” to “human subject playing”. But in order to bring to life the shift from object to subject, she concludes that human-centric design, means designing with and for the whole body. But what does it change to design for the whole body and what does it imply? After all, being human means to have a body, no?!

And this is where the plot twist takes place.

From piece of evidence of neuroscience recent research to philosophical work written in 1637, we put on the stand our system of beliefs and values about our body. We struck a deal with the responsible and finalize the investigation on why on earth we have been so trap sitting, in the “techno power trio” world (brain+eyes+finger tips). Surprise! The recent discoveries tells us that we think with our body. That Descartes made a mistake by separating thoughts and actions. And that our gut and heart have intelligence that we’ve been underusing. Ready to design, move and play mix realities on our feet?

In this conference:
We revisit the importance of designing-imagining-playing-feeling in holistic ways not just for the fun of it, but for our bio-psycho-social health stakes. We will take engaging examples from LARP, Augmented reality and physical games.
-Suitable for dopamine, serotonin, endorphin & oxytocin hormones.
-Not suitable for robots.

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

Keynote, Friday, 18th October, 16:30 – 17:30

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.

Gernot Hausar

Gernot HausarGernot Hausar is a Historian based in Vienna, Austria.

Interests & research include information exchange & transfer, digital humanities, hackers, net-policy, CEE, eLearning, OCR, games & data mining.


Settlement of digital land – living a part of your life in the sandbox MMO EVE Online

Lecture, Friday, 18th October, 16:00 – 16:30

As parts of the digital eco-systems like game worlds get more and more interconnected with the physical world and the daily lives of it’s inhabitants. The discussion on how to integrate these (perceived) digital spaces into society is ongoing.

This talk uses the strange world of EVE Online players in and (as far as they can be) out-of-game to argue, that there might already be historical precedents, like the three international spaces and especially the High Seas, on how to possibly integrate spaces with similar properties into society.

EVE Online, a one-shard-universe (excluding the PRC) with it’s rich history of in- and out-of-game play, ranging from thefts and spycraft, serious Mini-Games, player charities to propaganda and RL-communities, offers great examples of how the game- and physical world interact, interweave and still differ in life – and death.