Ricarda Goetz-Preisner

Ricarda Goetz-Preisner is currently conducting her PhD thesis in game studies at the University of Vienna about inclusive games. By training, she is a political scientist and employed by the City of Vienna, where she has an advisory role on girls and women in digital games. As an independent researcher she publishes in different media, gives lectures and workshops in the realm of cultural studies.

The role of in-game purchases for character customization in games

FROG 2023 – Talk

This talk focuses on spending habits in games – so called in-game transactions – with a gender perspective. In-game purchases refer to the possibility of paying real money for items or different functions in games. Especially selecting cosmetics in a game is a way to customize characters or player´s own avatars in order to change the appearance, for example, when choosing hair color (Ducheneaut et al., 2009) or the gender you play. Identification with the avatar can increase intrinsic motivation to play (Birk et al., 2016) and might therefore be relevant to player enjoyment and performance.
As it is the challenge with all game research, to make any overall assumptions about habits or trends in the gaming world is difficult due to the sheer volume of different games. Depending on the focus that might be put on mobile games, PC or console games, the results may vary tremendously. This talk will give some insights on how in game spending influences different game plays with regard to specific games and how these might differ from a gender perspective.
Hamara et al. (2017) looked into the reasons why players would even buy in-game content. They did an empirical study on purchase motivations and the results revealed that the purchase motivations of unobstructed play, social interaction, and economical rationale were positively associated with how much money players spend on in-game content. The results imply that the way designers implement artificial limitations and obstacles as well as social interaction affects how much players spend money on in-game content. However, 90 % of their respondents were male, so no gender perspective might be applied here. Böffel et al. (2022) looked into cosmetic microtransactions for character customization in the game League of Legends, a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena). In their study they analysed whether or not the performance of players with cosmetic transactions was better, which in the end it proofed to be not the case. However the authors assumed that even the choice of gender for their participants, satisfied some of their representational needs in the game (cf. 6). By default most games offer a game character designed as a white middle-aged man, if you want to play as someone else, you have to pay. Reza et al. (2022) did research on how players purchase these forms of representation in games. Participants of color in the study reported to be spending more on average than white participants on skins in the games they play. The authors did not include a gender perspective if these purchases differ between women, men or transgender persons which would have made the study even more compelling. Many of the researched studies show that gender is still not applied as a normalized axes which needs to be mentioned critically. As a research subject, choosing gender by paying for it is after the first round of research a new area within game research as this author noticed that most studies researching in-game purchases do not focus on gender even as an axes in their research.

Birk, M. V., Atkins, C., Bowey, J. T., and Mandryk, R. L. (2016). Fostering intrinsic motivation through avatar identification in digital games
Böffel C., Würger S., Müsseler J. and Schlittmeier SJ. (2022). Character Customization With Cosmetic Microtransactions
Ducheneaut, N., Wen, M. H., Yee, N., and Wadley, G. (2009). Body and mind.
HamarI, J., Alha, K., (2017). Why do players buy in-game content? An empirical study on concrete purchase motivations.
Reza, A. , Sabrina Chu, S. , Adanna Nedd, A. & Gardner, D. (2022). Having skin in the game: How players purchase representation in games.

Andreas Wieser

Andreas Wieser is a Master’s student at the University of Innsbruck and a student assistant at the Institute for Subject Didactics. His research focuses on subject didactics in the field of history and civic education and their intersections with game studies. He is particularly interested in the reception of video games by consumers and the associated influence on their historical culture and historical identity.

The Meaning of Money made visible in ANNO 1800. From a Video Game to a Board Game

FROG 2023 – Talk

Money and its equivalents take up a huge part of modern Real-Time-Strategy (RTS) games by influencing the level of difficulty and speed of advancement throughout the game. Upkeep and construction costs of buildings and units constitute the biggest part of expenses and form important and entertaining hurdles for the consumers of such video games. This presentation focuses on the question which money-centred challenges are faced through the video game ANNO 1800 and how those issues are transferred into the board game of ANNO 1800. Methodically it is based on an analysis of challenges given to the players, these can be high building costs or difficult production chains, which represent the economic growth needed to pursue the win.
The board game abstains itself completely from the use of money and focuses itself solely on another main resource of the game: workforce. At first glance the board game seems to be a game of communist tendencies using the workforce to gain products by processing resources. At second glance it still consists of and builds on capitalist ideas such as the still existing five working classes (farmers, workers, artisans, engineers, investors) and the ever-ongoing idea of economic growth and competition between the players.
This presentation aims to highlight the different capitalistic tendencies of a board game in comparison to its videogame. It concludes that even if the monetary capital is taken away from a game, it is still a highly capitalistic game using capitalistic systems of economic growth and an obvious separation between working classes giving each of them different resources and products to handle and contributing that way to the separation between classes. Complex capitalistic ideas, which normally evolve around money, are therefore still embedded, seemingly without being focused on money as its centrepiece.

Klemens Franz

Klemens Franz studied “Information Management” in Graz and “Digital Games Research and Design” in Tampere, Finland. He worked as an assistant for new media technologies at the FH Joanneum. In 2006 he founded the atelier198 where he has worked on over 300 analogue games as an illustrator, graphic designer and editor. In the last couple of years he started to talk about analogue games and his experience with their visuals. He worked on the interactive aspects of exhibitions, held game-design workshops and wrote about gaming culture. He teaches “Digital Imaging”, “Cultural Studies” and “Media Theory” at the FH Joanneum.

Real. Fake. Analogue. – The joy of playing with real people and fake money.

FROG 2023 – Talk

A long time ago money and play met for the first time. They immediately started to gamble. Since then money has become an integral part of analogue games. Not only to bet but also as a gameplay element, as components, as rules and mechanisms.

As soon as there was money people started to gamble but it was Elizabeth Magie who introduced money as components to the world of games. Her socially critical game “Landlord” was twisted to “Monopoly” and became the embodiment of capitalism. Since then a lot has happened.

This talk tries to highlight unique ways of how the medium of analogue games incorporates money in different ways than digital games (mostly) do:

Money is much more visible and tangible and has to be managed by the players themselves. It can be a component that visualizes growth and value, it can be a token that occupies spaces and spatially affects prices. It can be a track where players mark their value with a wooden cube. It can be paper money, cardboard coins or even quite expensive metal coins. Money in analogue games can be a sensual element meeting the aesthetic demands of the people around the table. And those people are willing to pay real money to upgrade their fake money.

Money can be a form of social interaction. Money as a medium to communicate is not a new idea but games like “Isle of Skye”, “Sheriff of Nottingham” or “QE” let players feel the free dynamics money can offer. They do so by incorporating human flaws into gameplay: Players have to lie, have to bribe, have to guess, have to bluff.

Analogue games always have to abstract reality. They can never reach the level of simulation digital games do. But in doing so, they use their components–material and players–in surprising ways. And maybe this sometimes seemingly raw approach can be an inspiration for digital games too.

Margarete Jahrmann

Margarete Jahrmann, is a LUDIC artist and artistic researcher, full university professor and head of EXPERIMENTAL GAME CULTURES at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. She leads the FWF research projects “The Psycholudic Approach” and “Neuromatic Game Art: critical play with neurointerfaces”.
In her interdisciplinary artistic practice, she developed the LUDIC method to connect the human and non- human, cognitive, emotional and political conditions of games, world and society. Her awards include prix ars electronica interactive art 2003, the Berlin transmediale software arts award 2004, and the Media Art Prize of the City of Vienna 2020.

Stefan Glasauer (Head Computational Neuroscience, Brandenburg University of Technology, Cottbus, Germany)
Thomas Brandstetter (Lecturer Experimental Game Cultures, University of Applied Art Vienna)

KOPFGELD: Dark Play in an AI based individualized money game.

FROG 2023 – Talk

The exemplary low interaction game KOPFGELD, developed in 2023 by Margarete Jahrmann & Stefan Glasauer and exhibited at Re:Publica Berlin (RP23.-) defines the price of a player’s face by using the latest developments in AI image generation and face recognition systems.
The theoretical foundation of Aaron Trammell’s recent book Repairing Play (2023) gives us a framework to reflect this radical art game on dark play AI, face recognition and cash. KOPFGELD addresses the “non-consensual play” by AI systems with human entities. Actual face recognition directly capitalizes biometric data and AI systems turn human training of AI systems/interaction into cash.
By looking into a camera the players agree (=dark pattern) that their face is used to train a closed AI system. Each face is monetarized by the AI: a “score” is attributed. It is higher the closer the calculated face is to the average face of all former players. From all locally stored faces a counterfeit is calculated that looks like the actual player, but does not actually exist. The new face is an OWN face — and serves as basis for a Geldschein (banknote) design. We use Stable Diffusion for an individualised Geldschein look, including the original camshot. By looking longer into the installation camera so that more pictures are taken, the player can bias the image database and thereby increase their score.
Using methods of artistic research (LUDIC method), KOPFGELD furthers the understanding of non-consensual play and dark patterns of game design as introduced by Trammell (2023) and Zagal et.al. (2013). Situating the installation in the context of low interactions games (Wild 2023) and the artistic tradition of dark play as described by Sicart (2015), we will show how KOPFGELD provides a dark mirror in which we can see glimpses of a future of pervasive gamification driven by non-human players: “you are being played”.

Wilfried Elmenreich

Wilfried Elmenreich is a professor for Smart Grids at the Institute of Networked and Embedded Systems at the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Austria. His research interests include intelligent energy systems, self-organizing systems, and technical applications of swarm intelligence. Wilfried Elmenreich is a member of the Senate at the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Counselor of the IEEE Student Branch, and is involved in the master program on Game Studies and Engineering. He is the author of several books and has published over 200 articles in the field of networked and embedded systems. Elmenreich researches intelligent energy systems, self-organizing systems, and technical applications of swarm intelligence.

Ahmad Kalatiani
Magdalena Strobl

Exploring Accessibility Enhancement in Printable Board Games through 3D Printing with a Heist Board Game Case Study

FROG 2023 – Talk

In recent years, 3D printing has emerged as a revolutionary technology that has the potential to transform various industries. It enables the creation of three-dimensional objects by layering materials based on a digital design. This process has gained widespread attention due to its versatility, efficiency, and possibilities for customization and prototyping. One of these areas in which 3D printing can be transformational is the development of Indie board games or so-called printables. According to the website BoardGameGeek (n.d.), printables, or “Print & Play” are “games [that] are not published in physical form. Instead, the rules and (most) components are available in a digital format, and players are expected to print them off [sic] and assemble them themselves.” This offers the opportunity for game designers to reach a wider player audience due to its easy access and affordability. The printable games that are offered in BoardGameGeek are mostly 2D games, that is games printed on paper and used with standard figures. A beneficial aspect 3D printing provides is the ability to add accessibility for visually impaired people into board games by designing game elements that provide haptic feedback. As a case study, we designed a heist board game involving a generated game map assembled using 3D-printed elements that snap together so that an accidental moving of one part does not affect the board. The figures and game elements are also designed as 3D prints so that they can be identified by touch as well as by their visual design. The game also involves cards with a cut edge to signal their orientation and a QR code that enables a mobile app to read the card’s content to the player. Producing the game is, however, significantly longer than a standard (2D) printable game since the 3D elements require significant time for printing. Printing times of all elements in full size amount to 100 hours on a Prusa i3 printer. Thus, the usage of 3D-print technology for producing games is expected to be limited to prototypes or special applications.

Sonja Gabriel

Sonja Gabriel works as a professor for media literacy at University Teacher College Vienna/Krems (Austria). Her primary focus of research is on digital game-based learning and using serious games and gamification for teaching different subjects at school and university as well as evaluation of various projects for learning with games and game-design approaches.

Play to Prosper: Teaching Financial Literacy Through Games

FROG 2023 – Talk

In the evolving landscape of education, an intriguing method has emerged to teach economic thinking and financial literacy: games. From traditional board games to sophisticated digital simulations, the interactive nature of gaming offers a novel approach to elucidating complex economic concepts. The question arises: How are games reshaping the way we understand economics?
Games provide educators with an unparalleled opportunity to create immersive learning experiences. For younger audiences, the simplification of complex topics through play ensures an initial grasp of core concepts. Older learners, on the other hand, can delve into intricate economic scenarios, honing their critical thinking skills through simulated real-world challenges. This hands-on approach reinforces classroom lessons, making economic principles both engaging and relatable.
The systemic nature of games mirrors that of economic structures. Just as individual decisions in a game can ripple throughout its entire system, so too can choices in the economic realm influence broader market dynamics. This parallel allows educators to illustrate the interconnectedness and repercussions inherent in economic systems. However, it’s crucial to note that games, with their fixed rules and boundaries, can’t entirely emulate the unpredictable complexities of global economies. As such, while they’re invaluable teaching tools, games remain representations, not replicas.
Moreover, games have ventured beyond mere educational tools into the realm of economic critique. By analyzing different economic ideologies within gameplay, educators can prompt students to critically evaluate and discuss the pros and cons of various economic systems. Yet, as with any tool, educators must be wary of inherent biases and the risk of oversimplifying multifaceted economic issues.
The last years have seen a rise in the number of digital games dealing with financial literacy. This presentation is going to have a look at some of these games, discussing which aspects of financial literacy are included and how learning is integrated into game-design. Finally, potentials and limitations of digital games will be discussed when it comes to teaching financial literacy.

Stefan E. Huber

Stefan E. Huber is currently conducting his doctoral thesis at the intersection of digital technologies and psychology at the University of Graz. He has a background in computational interdisciplinary modeling and simulation in various domains of natural science (including physics, chemistry, materials science, psychology). His current research focuses on better understanding how learning (in digital environments) is intertwined with the multitude of aspects of the human condition (like emotion, motivation, and social dimensions) from a holistic perspective beyond cognitive information processing.

Manuel Ninaus, University of Graz

Will human-AI interaction promote new career paths in game development and education?

FROG 2023 – Talk

How are generative AI co-pilots (like ChatGPT, Google Bard, or GitHub Copilot) related to game development and education? Will generative AI thin out the specialist job market by undermining the practice of human expertise? Or can human-AI interaction give rise to new career paths fueling synergies between the motivational powers of games and long-standing educational needs? In this discussion piece, we will try to find some answers to these questions. By first exploring the transformative potential of generative AI in education, we subsequently highlight risks such as deskilling and diminishing the development of human expertise on which large portions of our modern, highly specialized economy are built. We then argue how a playful approach supporting skill practice and human judgement could remedy those risks. Drawing from well-established insights from game-based learning research and self-determination theory, we arrive at the potential of well-designed educational games to foster a willingness to practice, nurturing domain-specific expertise. However, well-designed games will require equally well-suited developers. The proposed solution hence calls itself for support of a specific type of human expert: professionals capable of transferring highly specialized educational activities into engaging games, placing the development of the human players at the core of their goals. Our view thus opens a new perspective on the career paths of game developers not merely as providers of ever new entertainment meeting the needs of a modern consumer society, but as key players for a sustainable preservation of a central human role in modern education.

Linda Rustemeier

Linda Rustemeier (M.A.) is an elearning expert and has been a member of staff at studiumdigitale since 2016, the center of innovations on technology enhanced learning at Goethe University Frankfurt. She researches in the field of Serious Games, qualification of supplemental instructors and digital accessibility (HessenHub).

Maria Ahmed
Eike Henrich

Diversity-sensitive agile software development with Scrum as a simulation game: SimScumPlan saves time and costs

FROG 2023 – Talk

The following exposé would like to introduce the online simulation game concept “ScrumSimPlan” (in German: https://scrum.s.studiumdigitale.uni-frankfurt.de), which was developed with the aim of bringing Scrum closer to the players, primarily computer science students, but open for everyone interested. It’s concept follows diversity sensible and digital accessiblity guidelines. In the beginning a user-centered approach was chosen for the implementation, which includes a constant exchange of ideas with Scrum experts and users. It is developed as a process of students theses. The online simulation game is played with at least four people and the players take on the Scrum roles, Scrum Master, Product Owner and Developer. One after the other in four rounds. Within one day, the entire Scrum process is simulated, a facilitator accompanies the process and the game is supplemented with typical scenarios, such as the execution of a priority estimate. In addition, the players have to overcome common obstacles that occur when applying Scrum and agile methods. With the help of gamification elements, the motivation to learn the Scrum process is to be increased what saves not only time, but money for the companies the students or one will work for.

Lukas Galinski

Lukas Galinski works as Senior Project Manager and ESG Advisor at INSTINCT3, a Berlin-based influencer and creative marketing agency in gaming and esports. In his role, he increasingly sets up and aligns economical, ecological, and social goals in business. Before starting at INSTINCT3 in 2020, Lukas facilitated and managed esports sponsorships at Jung von Matt/Sports in Hamburg. The esports market has also been topic of his master thesis. Lukas holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics of FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg and a M.Sc. in Sport, Business and Law of University Bayreuth.

How Responsible Gaming Influencer Marketing Can Shape The Future

FROG 2023 – Talk

In times of Climate Change, Big Tech or Identity Politics, almost no business decision comes without environmental or social consequences – it is no different in Gaming Influencer Marketing. This practitioner’s keynote investigates how responsibility can be incorporated into decision-making processes within Gaming Influencer Marketing. It considers mega trends such as shifting economic power, climate change and resource scarcity or technological breakthroughs and their corresponding market realities for Gaming Influencer Marketing. By providing deriving questions for influencers and advertising agencies in everyday business as well as recent industry case examples, decision-making processes, dilemmas, and compromises are explored.

The explorations show that mitigating environmental and social costs and externalities solemnly depend on individual decision makers within Gaming Influencer Marketing. In economical terms, both Good and Bad environmental and social decisions can be rewarded by the market (and its communities). By defining individual values for personal brands and creating guidance for employees and influencers, market actors can navigate through uncertainty and aim for informed decisions considering economic, environmental, and social consequences. Therefore, it is recommended to define values, apply frameworks for self-guidance and voice concerns during decision-making processes to lead towards a desirable future for current and next generations.

The exploration is limited to a one-sided view of Gaming Influencer Marketing within one of Germany’s leading Gaming Influencer Marketing agencies.

Simon Huber

Dr. Mag. Simon Huber BA completed his studies in History and Educational Science at the University of Vienna, followed by Cultural Studies at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. His doctoral thesis was honored with the prestigious Award of Excellence, recognized as one of the top 40 dissertations in 2022 by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science, and Research. He is researching and teaching about video games for over ten years and is currently engaged in crafting a research initiative, independently conceiving the project under the working title: Mapping Ways of Reading.

Game Culture between Fine Arts and crude Economies

FROG 2023 – Talk

The relationship between money and games is highly diverse and inherently complex in each of its forms. This complexity has given rise to numerous questions that have kept generations of game scholars busy. I propose an inverted perspective by looking at different money affairs as if they were games in action. This is relevant because the actual exchange of money and goods insinuates how we model the process of trading, and further abstract to whole economies from this point. Notably, previous attempts to delve into the material underpinnings of this relationship appear disconnected from the current research efforts within Game Studies.

To bridge this gap, I draw upon the canonical ludology vs. narratology debate (cf. Mukherjee 2015) to illustrate how material elements are often underrepresented in game analysis. It’s essential to note that this discussion does not venture into the ontological debate about what defines a game. Instead, it acknowledges that games can be viewed as both works of art, expressions of culture reflecting the times they were created in, or as accurate simulations of economic processes, which could just as easily model the speculative art market.

Going beyond this binary classification of games as either art or economic models, we aim to cultivate a truly game-centric perspective on financial transactions, from which games themselves emerge (Rautzenberg et al. 2021). In this context, the ongoing exchange of symbols, mathematical concepts, goods, and narratives transforms into a second-order knowledge visualization (cf. Huber 2021). This approach offers a novel lens through which to explore the intricate relationship between money and games, enriching our understanding of both.

Huber, Simon (2022): Die Emergenz der Anschaulichkeit in Comenius’ Orbis pictus (1658). Universität für Angewandte Kunst.

Mukherjee, Souvik (2015): Video Games and Storytelling: Reading Games and Playing Books. 1st ed. 2015 Edition. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire : New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Rautzenberg, Markus, Rolf Nohr, Claus Pias & Gabriele Grammelsberger (2021): Spielförmige Emergenz: Für eine Neubestimmung der Spielwissenschaften. Paidia – Zeitschrift für Computerspielforschung https://www.paidia.de/?p=15201 (letzter Zugriff 12.01.2022).