Daniela Hau

Daniela Hau is part of the innovation department at SCRIPT (Service de Coordination de la Recherche et de l’Innovation pédagogiques et technologiques). Her work and research focuses on digital game-based learning, AI and media literacy. She is also a member of the ET2020 working group “Digital Education: Learning, Teaching and Assessment”. In March 2019, Daniela has completed her second Master’s degree in MediaGaming Pedagogy. In her “free-time” she works as a secondary school teacher for economics and (digital) communication in Luxembourg.

Digital games@school… does it really work?

FROG 2020 – Short Talk

Despite a broad consensus in research on the potential of digital games to promote learning, they have so far hardly been used in formal educational contexts. An exploratory study on the use of digital games in schools was set up to understand this discrepancy: In twelve teaching projects, important input and process variables as well as (learning) outcomes of digital game-based learning were examined. Overall, the results point out that computer games are an effective didactic instrument, which, however, must be didactically integrated into the lessons by the teacher. The selection of the game, the duration of the game and the transfer from the digital to the real world proved to be particularly relevant for a positive learning outcome.

Thomas-Gabriel Rüdiger

Dr. Thomas-Gabriel Rüdiger is a criminologist at the Institute of Police Science at the University of Police of the State of Brandenburg. As one of the first representatives of the field of cybercriminology in Germany, his research interests focus on digital crime, digital policing and criminological theories in digital space. He wrote his doctoral thesis at the University of Hamburg on cybergrooming. He is author and editor of a large number of academic publications and a frequently quoted interview partner and regularly advises political decision makers.

The risk of Cybergrooming in Onlinegames

FROG 2020 – Short Talk

Children of all ages meet in onlinegames unknown players from all over the world in a playful environment. However, children can also be confronted with the dark sides of other gamers (fraud, hatespeech but also cybergrooming). Cybergrooming describes a form of behaviour in which an offender communicates with a child to enable sexual abuse of the child. Offenders use the playful experience with children, low protection mechanisms and partly also the harmless graphics of some games. The presentation will discuss onlinegames as platforms for cybergrooming, prevention strategies and the responsibility of the society (parents, companies, police).

Josey Meyer

Josey Meyer is a senior undergraduate student at Texas A&M University, studying at Danube University Krems (Austria) this fall. She is working with four other Aggies in their educational game design program for study abroad. Previously, Josey worked at the TAMU Learning Interactive Virtual Environments (LIVE) Lab with two of her current teammates, developing art history educational games for classrooms such as ARTé: Lumiere and the upcoming ARTé: Reverie. In summer 2020, Josey interned at Blizzard Entertainment as a dungeon designer on Diablo IV and will return as an employee working on that same project upon graduation.

Reamifton North – a game about the United States Postal Service

FROG 2020 – Short Talk

Michael Black
Jared Derry
Kathryn Friesen
Montserrat Patino
(Texas A&M University)

Over the course of a semester, our team of five undergraduate Visualization students from Texas A&M University set out to create a game that explores the current political climate of the United States through the lens of the postal service. We ended up creating a prototype of Reamifton North, a resource management simulation game. You play as Cas, the new hire at the post office, and it is your job to keep the place up and running by organizing and delivering packages. In the face of a global pandemic and the 2020 U.S. presidential election, the national government took deliberate steps to sabotage the United States Postal Service (USPS). Our game is a critical response to this, which also addresses a variety of social injustices, including economic inequality, racial inequality, inadequate pandemic response, and voter suppression. Although it is currently only in the prototype stage, the full plans for the game include a story with multiple narrative paths and endings. The player would face critical decisions throughout the game that reflect events based on real-life United States politics. Gameplay becomes progressively harder as the story goes on and the post office the player works at is slowly stripped of necessary equipment as the government withdraws support. The increasingly difficult gameplay and narrative developments would aim to capture the frustration and despair felt by many people during the real-life events happening during the development of this game. Our goal was to create a game that would be representative of what is currently happening with the USPS, and the overall political climate of the United States, and to encourage the player to empathize with those most affected by these events.

Alexiei Dingli

Alexiei Dingli is a Professor of AI. He has been conducting research and working in the field of AI for the past two decades. His work was rated World Class by international experts and won various prizes including the Semantic Web Challenge, the first prize by the European Space Agency, the e-Excellence Gold Seal award, the Malta Innovation Award and the World Intellectual Property Organization award. He has published several peer reviewed papers and books. He is also involved in various AI projects with local and international organisations. He forms part of the Malta.AI national task-force.

Lil gangsta – kids playing criminals

FROG 2020 – Short Talk

When people play games (especially online ones), many do not realise that their actions can cause harm to other players. The most common kind of harm is psychological through bullying. But some of these players even form part of criminal organisations aimed at causing even more damage and at committing real world crimes. This might include financial scams or even sexual grooming which might also lead to human trafficking. One doesn’t have to be an official criminal to commit a serious crime; many people experienced online thefts and there have also been a few cases of murders too, all of which executed by normal people. Unfortunately, these platforms have become a fertile ground for all sorts of crime. And having the dark web round the corner, one can easily get access to real weapons, thus transferring virtual issues to the real life in no time. In this talk, we will have a look at various game crimes which happened in the past years, the reasons behind them and explore different ways in which they can be prevented.

Michael Wagner

Michael Wagner is the Department Head of the Digital Media Department at the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design. In this capacity he leads one of the top ranked game design programs in the United States. His research interests revolve around the fundamental principles of serious game design, particularly with respect to games for education. More recently, he started to explore the principles of immersive audio production within the context of game design and development.

The Inverted Gaming Degree Program – Re-envisioning Game Design Education in the Era of Social Distancing

FROG 2020 – Short Talk

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has forced most University into a prolonged remote instructional mode. One unintended consequence of this move to remote instruction is that it has proven that online driven education is a viable alternative to traditional models in higher education. This development questions traditional business models of campus universities that rely heavily on the ability to provide a rich educational on-campus experience to students as well as faculty and staff, a problem that is particularly relevant in the area of game design education as well as design education in general. This talk proposes a solution for this problem by developing a framework that separates formal and informal educational activities of campus-based game design degree programs which can be performed in an online or remote mode from those which cannot. The result is an educational approach that is not only more resilient towards emergencies or catastrophes such as a global pandemic, but is also more efficient and flexible as it opens up possibilities that have not yet been accessible within a traditional educational face to face environment. These include opportunities for low residency instruction or the integration of remote expert instructors into the on-campus learning experience. As a practical example, the paper describes out how this model is currently being implemented within the Department of Digital Media at the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel University in Philadelphia. The department is home to several well-established undergraduate and graduate programs, including a top ranked game design program, that rely on a number of instructional and research labs with state of the art technology. By inverting entire programs instead of only individual classes, we are able to utilize the advantages of remote instruction while simultaneously maintaining a rich educational on-site experience that gives students access to technologies that would otherwise not be accessible to them.

Scot Osterweil

Scot Osterweil is Creative Director of the Education Arcade at MIT. Game designs include Zoombinis (math and logic), Vanished: The MIT/Smithsonian Game (environmental science), Labyrinth (math), Caduceus (medicine), and iCue (history). He is Creative Director of Learning Games Network where he led the design of the Gates Foundation funded Xenos (ESL), and Quandary, named 2013 Game of the Year (Games for Change festival). He co-authored the book Resonant Games and served as the play consultant on the Emmy Award winning Amazon TV series Tumbleleaf.

The world reborn: reimagining player identity.

FROG 2020 – Short Talk

All games offer opportunities for players to enhance their identities as effective and competent actors in their lives’ narratives. But whether acknowledged or not by their creators, games sold in the marketplace are part of a cultural conversation that is mediated by the demands of capital and hierarchies, a conversation that often distorts player self-identity in harmful ways. This talk is a challenge to game designers/writers/producers to think more deeply about player identity in the games they create, and offer suggestions for how to rethink player identity.

Jeremiah Diephuis

Jeremiah Diephuis (US/AT) was born in 1976 and grew up in the great arcades of the American Midwest. After studies in computational linguistics and communication and knowledge media, he turned his focus to the use of games for various purposes in the public sphere. He currently works as a lecturer and researcher in the Digital Media department at the Hagenberg Campus of the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria and is a founding member of the research group “Playful Interactive Environments”.

Serious Detours: A Critical Reflection on Developing Games for Education

FROG 2020 – Short Talk

Educational computer games have been promising to revolutionize our school systems since the early 1970s, with early titles such as Oregon Trail and Mathteroids demonstrating how typical school content could potentially be employed in games. However, almost fifty years later, educational games, which have effectively been subsumed by the category of serious games, are still rarely utilized in schools, at least not on a wide scale. This is in direct contrast to such statements as the fairly recent IEEE prediction that “gaming will be integrated into more than 85 percent of daily tasks by 2020.” This talk will address some of the previous successes of educational games but also the challenges they currently face. In particular, such difficult issues as determining the appropriate level of abstraction, weighing the complexity and accuracy of the underlying models and dealing with different player expectations. The presentation will draw on some of the projects that were developed in the research group “Playful Interactive Environments” as well as other serious games developed both in and outside of Austria. Finally, some experiences regarding educational game design and playtesting during the pandemic will also be shared.

Benjamin Kirchengast

Benjamin Kirchengast finished his bachelors degree in history at University of Vienna in 2017. Right now he is studying for his master’s degrees in “Contemporary History and Media” at University Vienna and “Game Studies” at Danube-University Krems, while also working at Verein GEDENKDIENST: He enjoyed playing games most of his life, now he loves studying them and their societal implications.

„That’s not how it was!“: Through the Darkest of Times in the context of a culture war.

FROG 2020 – Short Talk

The historical strategy and survival game Through the Darkest of Times (TtDoT) challenged the way in which history is represented in digital games. That is especially true for its representation of the national socialist Germany and the resistance occurring in parts of the society. However, this representation does not always spark huge excitement in the players of TtDoT. While the game was generally well received by the public, there is also some – quite loud – criticism in the community of digital games. I took a look at the criticism that was voiced by some players in a total of 86 negative reviews on the gaming-platforms GOG and Steam. Based on Phillip Mayrings research method of the qualitative content analysis I formed different categories of criticism on TtDoT. First of all, some reviewers simply call the game mechanics boring. Other critics focus on the interaction of game mechanics and narrative, stating that the players actions do not have any impact on the outcome of the game, which is only partially true. The way in which you can or cannot interact with Nazis did not feel authentic for many users. One of the greatest points of criticism in negative reviews though is the games representation of history. Many reviewers claim that the game transmits a modern perspective on history asserting that TtDoT is historically inaccurate and/or that it feels like the game is forcedly teaching history. Finally there is a group of reviewers who call out the narrative of the game for supposedly transmitting a leftist political agenda, using the holocaust to discredit contemporary right-wing politics focusing on Donald J. Trump. The different categories mostly do not manifest in isolation but in combination with each other giving way to deeper analysis. One major output of the study was that the resistance against TtDoT is to be understood in a broader context of a still ongoing culture war between the left and the right. In connection with the culture war the erosion of the masculine space of video games and their often highly masculine content is harshly opposed, manifested in negative reception of alternative games.

Frank Pourvoyeur

Independent game developer. Graduated in Game Studies in 2020

Meaningful coincidences in games with synchronicity

FROG 2020 – Poster Presentation

Coincident is a frequently used method to get items into the possession of players. Synchronicity according to C G Jung can be used to assess the randomness of such an event. In accordance with the Suspension of Disbelief, a concept is presented that shows how believability can vary due to abstraction.

Wilfried Elmenreich & Martin Gabriel

Wilfried Elmenreich is Professor of Smart Grids at the Institute of Networked and Embedded Systems at the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt. His research topics are smart grids, swarm systems and self-organizing systems. He is involved in the master program on Game Studies and Engineering and participates regurlarily in short game projects.

Martin Gabriel studied history at the University of Klagenfurt and received his PhD for a thesis on irregular warfare during the 1878 occupation of Bosnia-Hercegovina. He has been a lecturer in Modern History at the University of Klagenfurt since 2012. His research and teaching focus on global history, colonial violence, social structures and ethnicity from the 1500s to the 19th century.

Global History, Facts and Fiction in Early Computer Games: Hanse, Seven Cities of Gold, Sid Meier’s Pirates!

FROG 2020 – Short Talk

For many years, historiography has ignored the importance of computer games for the general perception of past events, focusing instead on “conventional” receptions in film or literature. Mainstream historiography propagated the thought that computer games could not meet academic standards. On the other hand, there had been early computer games using historical events as background. Meanwhile, it is logical to also keep in mind the motives of designers for producing games set against a (quasi-)historical background: Historic settings are attractive for designers because they provide an already existing logical framework for a game, while making costly license fees obsolete. In this work, we analyze three games set against the background of – what Europeans call – the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Period. The game Hanse is a game featuring elements of the 14th century Baltic trade. Seven Cities of Gold deals with European conquest in the Americas (during the 1500s). It is a real-time strategy game focusing on exploration. Sid Meier’s Pirates! can be seen as a microcosm of the power struggle between European countries in the Early Modern Caribbean. It gives the player a sketch of complex economic or strategic issues where pirates (buccaneers) were operating under different circumstances to support the ambitions of colonial powers. The games were released between 1984 and 1987 for various platforms. Among the systems that have seen releases of all three games, the Commodore 64 versions have been used to analyze the games because of high market share and successful preservation of games. The games were in general very successful and well-received. From a technical perspective, it can be seen that those games did not max out the computer’s capabilities, but rather attracted the players via the interesting setting and the historical connection.