Daniela Bruns works as a University Assistant at the Department of Media and Communications at the Alpen-Adria-University Klagenfurt (AAU) in Austria. She holds a diploma in Media Theory and Cultural Studies and a bachelor in Economics from the University of Klagenfurt. She is the organizer of the annual Game Pics Event at the AAU which is an art project that experiments with reflections on in-game imagery. Her main research interests include cultural studies, popular culture, serious gaming, and video games between escapism and activism.
When the future becomes the present – Detroit: Become Human as a resource for social criticism
Lecture, Friday, 18th October, 15:30 – 15:30
Stories about artificially created humans, robots, androids and cyborgs have been captivating humanity for several centuries. After their entry into literature, art, film and television, the subject also found its way into video games. Frequently framed by a dystopian scenery and noir elements, it takes us into a gloomy vision of the future that deals with the fears and worries of the present. The question of what constitutes humanity and how people relate to their environment is more relevant (and more urgent) today than ever and has been inscribed in the central issues of, for example, Posthumanism and New Materialism.
The 2018 published video game Detroit: Become Human also deals with this issue but deviates from a dystopian framing. The fictional world in which we are immersed in this game is very similar to our current one. Technological progress does not generate disbelief but is based on technologies that we already encounter in our everyday lives. Familiar images allow us to look back at recent history instead of indulging in futuristic exaggerations. Therefore, the video game does not offer its players to focus their attention on a possible distant future but to deal with current events and problems. This presentation will exemplarily deal with some aspects of the game and link them to their context of production and reception, in order to illustrate the potential for meaning. It should not only be shown that popular video games can be a resource for social criticism, but also which circumstances are required for its successful realization.
Sonja Gabriel is professor for media literacy at teacher university college KPH Vienna/Krems. She teaches use and effects of digital media to pre-service and in-services teachers. Her research focuses on digital media for teaching and learning, putting an extra focus on digital game-based learning as well as teaching values in and with digital games. Sonja Gabriel studied German and English at the university of Vienna. She wrote her PhD thesis about knowledge management at secondary commercial colleges. In two master degree courses (Educational Media at University Duisburg/Essen and Applied Game Studies at Danube University Krems) she specialized on digital media and videogames.
The case of „Pokémon Go“ – how an augmented reality game influences society
Lecture, Friday, 18th October, 14:30 – 15:00
When being released in summer 2016, Pokémon Go made it to the headlines of all kind of media all over the world. However, it was not the game itself and its then innovative AR-technology which was in the center of interest but articles which either supported the hype around the game (gamers taking more exercise and getting to know their home towns better) or which condemned the game strongly for example because of being the reason for accidents or because of having placed Poké-Stops and Gyms in unsuitable places like memorial sites of concentration camps. When it comes to religion, there are also different opinions: Some churches, for example in Great Britain, tried to lure more people to church by organizing Pokémon Go parties. Other religions banned the game – in Saudi Arabia the fatwa on Pokémon was renewed as the game is said to support theory of evolution. Some gamers even believe the game to be a religion of its own by citing techno-animism.
Studies show that Pokémon Go can motivate people to get more exercise outside and that it can support finding new friends or getting closer contact to other people. Even persons suffering from social anxiety disorder like to play the game. Insurance companies, however, regard games like Pokémon Go as posing additional risk on gamers as they are distracted by the game resulting in more accidents and thus more insurance cases. Thus, insurance experts are thinking about ideas how to minimize these risks.
These are only some examples how the game has already influenced society and which concern – in contrast to most other games – also non-gamers. The presentation is going to discuss some of these cases, thus showing how strong games are interconnected with our every-day-lives.
Attila is the CEO and co-founder of Massively Multiplayer Online Science (aka MMOS): a Swiss company specialized in connecting citizen science and videogames. MMOS founders received the prestigious Lovie Award and the IGDA Serious Games SIG Community Leadership Award for their role in creating EVE Online’s Project Discovery. Attila has a background in computer science and he co-founded and co-designed iWiW, which was the biggest social network in Hungary before Facebook, reaching almost 5 million users.
Mix in reality: Science enters games
Keynote, Friday, 18th October, 13:30 – 14:30
Mixed reality is the magic of overlaying virtual content on our real life environment. Can we use this magic the other way around? Can we add real life content to enrich the virtual worlds of games? We believe it is not just possible, but can bring interesting new experiences to games as well as substantial results to real life endeavours.
In the last 5 years we worked on projects along this line: to mix real life research into already existing games. The first project of Massively Multiplayer Online Science, Project Discovery in EVE Online yielded hundreds of millions of scientific data analysis submitted by players and getting EVE spaceships flying across the cover of Nature Biotechnology. Come to hear about how Project Discovery was set up and about the latest results.