Jonathan (Jono) Barel

Jono recently left the world of online payments to pursue a career in games. After graduating from Shenkar’s new Master’s program in Game Design, he founded Zero Prep Games with Aviv Manoach, where they plan to work work on projects for desktop, mobile, and print.

Aviv Manoach, Shenkar College

Game Night: Examining group cohesion through cooperative video games

FROG 2022 – Poster

Cooperative games date back to the early days of the arcades. but over the years have grown in popularity as home-entertainment hardware became more powerful and ubiquitous. Previous research has shown how playing video games with friends and family can positively affect social behaviour outside of the game. Other research focused on the bonds within social groups and how strengthening these bonds can improve the group’s performance. This paper examined the effects of team cohesiveness on cooperative play and vice versa by presenting social groups with a cooperative game and surveying them for cohesiveness-related metrics. We developed a simple cooperative game that relies on communication and cooperation. The study could not demonstrate a positive correlation between cooperation and cohesiveness. The data showed that a single player doing the majority of the work in the game correlated with a perception of cohesiveness and overall in-game success.

Alexander Pfeiffer

Alexander Pfeiffer is is holding a postdoc position at University for Continuing Education Krems, Austria. He is a recipient of a Max Kade Fellowship awarded by the Austrian Academy of Science to work at the MIT Education Arcade, USA from 2019-2021.

Case Study: Ownership of Story Elements – Retrospective of the Twitter improv theater piece ‘FSMCOTAARSDG’.

FROG 2022 – Poster

At the beginning of January 2022, Alexander Pfeiffer started an improv theater play on Twitter that developed out of a joke. The rules of the game were simple: tweets were sent with statements, questions or specific tasks that every Twitter participant could answer, but also had the right to continue the story. The only requirement was that the posted content were also shareable media files (mainly images) on the experimental NFT platform NFT Magic. The advantage of this platform, besides the ease of use, was that the cost is in the dollar cent range per NFT created or sent. The project picked up speed unexpectedly fast and a not always coherent but complex alien detective story was spun by the community. The special thing about it, all game elements were owned by the players, even more were created by the players and became collectibles. In this poster presentation a review of the project will be given and it will be shown where the chances and problems for a further use of these mechanics and technologies lie. The model for the narrative form was the Tschauner Bühne, which stands for improvisation theater in the Viennese district of Ottakring.

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.

Oppressive mechanisms for women in the game development culture

FROG 2022 – Poster

In the last years, starting with the infamous #gamergate in 2015, a lot has been said and criticized about the mechanisms in game development companies. Just recently an Austrian game production studio – Moon Studio – which has produced the amazing games of Ori and the Blind Forest as well as Ori and the Will of the Wisps, has been called out for its oppressive culture by multiple workers. According to VentureBeat (Takahashi 2022), the founders Thomas Mahler and Gennadiy Korol propagated an environment where casual racism, sexism and bullying was on the agenda.
Unfortunately, news like this is not new in the gaming world. Another company, famous for rather colorful and inclusive games, the French company Ubisoft, made headlines in 2020 for misogynist bullying and sexual harassment (cf. Gach 2021). Even though Ubisoft promised to “overhaul its workplace culture “, little has been done since the complaints.
2020 was also the year, different stories published on Twitter shed more light on the hardship women still face in the industry by being pressured into sex, being belittled or gaslit by their male superiors and colleagues (cf. McDonald 2020). It seems even game companies claim to value the work of women, they have it hard as ever working in a still male-dominated sector. In 2018 the gaming website Kotaku investigated the game developer Riot Games over their gender-based harassment case – hundreds of workers even joined the protest and quit the company which has “promised to overhaul its workplace culture” (Dean 2019).
These developments show that being a woman in the game development culture is met with sexism, harassment, and sexual predation.

Dean, S. (2019). Riot Games will pay $10 million to settle gender discrimination suit.

Gach, E. (2021). Despite Filing Harassment Reports, Employees Say Ubisoft Isn’t Doing Much

McDonald, K. (2020). Is the video games industry finally reckoning with sexism?

Takahashi, D. (2022). Despite its beautiful Ori games, Moon Studios is called an ‘oppressive’ place to work.

Michaela Wawra

Michaela Wawra is in a prae-doc position at University for Continuing Education Krems in Austria. She lived 2 years abroad in Sweden and finished her bachelor and her master’s programme at University of Vienna, where she specialised in business law, innovation- and technology management and electronic business. The focus of her job is in distance learning in the mba programmes and e-learning. She will start her PhD in March at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. She has a burning passion for gaming and been a successful international guild leader for about 2-3 years through World of Warcraft Classic and Burning Crusade (2020-2022). She also played professionally in Team Austria Female with Counter-Strike 1.6 around 2003-2004

Alexander Pfeiffer, University for Continuing Education Krems

The freedom of choice: looking at the game mechanics of lootboxes through the eyes of FIFA 22 (Ultimate Team).

FROG 2022 – Poster

Take a look back at the year 2010: Netflix begins to expand its same-named streaming service beyond the borders of the United States of America. In the same year Apple launches the iPhone 4, more complex smartphone games (of course also on high end Android smartphones) find a wider popularity. The revolution of digital business models has just begun. It is becoming apparent that mechanics that have slowly but steadily evolved over the 2000s are now becoming mainstream. These include in-game / in-app purchases where you buy a fantasy currency to be used in the game or directly virtual items, but also the concept of lootboxes. Lootboxes implement concepts from gambling and you don’t know exactly what reward awaits you. Lootboxes can usually be played for, but can also be purchased, respectively the purchased fantasy currency can be cashed in for it.

While these concepts were first used for cash generation in free-to-play games, Electronic Arts implemented in 2009 the Ultimate Team Game Mode in FIFA bringing a game mode with in-game purchases and lootboxes to build your squads. This already proved to be so successful in early 2010 that this game mode is present in all EA sports games and generated billions in sales in the early 2020s. This article would now like to look at the status quo of lootboxes in games with a focus on FIFA Ultimate Team games and the perspective from the players’ point of view. What freedom do players have to play the game without extra spending? What does it mean for players to invest money for the game? How do players react to the various promotions and the constant development of new trading cards and events? How do players feel at the end of a FIFA edition when they can get all the trading cards with little effort? These and other questions are part of a quantitative study among players followed by a recap of the data through a focus group interview.

Paula Goerke

Paula Goerke is a freelance English teacher and currently a research assistant at the Chair of Critical Educational Technology and Media Education at FernUniversität in Hagen. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Educational Science at FernUniversität in Hagen in 2021 and is currently completing her Master’s degree in Education and Media. Her focus is on the interdisciplinary possibilities of bringing educators and game developers together and understanding the relationship between people and games.

(Un)restricted play – how prospective game designers view the boundaries of games

FROG 2022 – Poster

Limitations, both natural and artificial, are an inherent part of human life, restricting humans in their movement, their thoughts, their interactions, and their general freedom. One opportunity to escape such real-life limitations is (video) games. However, the freedom players encounter while experiencing their virtual adventures is heavily influenced by the multiple limitations set by the game designers. In-game freedom can only properly be enjoyed within the limits its creators allow. Most research focuses on the way players experience these limitations and their perceived possibilities of thriving within them. In contrast, this poster presentation portrays how prospective game designers view the boundaries encountered by players and how these limitations can be overcome by them. The poster is based on qualitative research – interviews with four prospective game designers – and allows a new perspective on games by focusing on the (new) people behind the scenes rather than those who interact with them. It offers two contributions to the current degree of knowledge: firstly, examining the perspective of game designers allows insight into the making and designing of games – how aware are they of their own limitations? How do they perceive the limitations their players will encounter? And how do these limitations bleed into the non-virtual world? Secondly, focusing on future game designers rather than those with years of experience allows insights into the future of the industry as well as the current standings of educational programs focused on games. The results show that regarding themselves, they are aware of their technological restrictions as well as the limitations of their own experiences. Concerning game-inherent boundaries, they identified player interactions and design limitations, among other things.

Xavier Aranda Arredondo

Xavier Aranda obtained his PhD in Philosophy in the University of Guanajuato, Mexico, where he is lecturing subjects such as Philosophy of G.W.F Hegel, Contemporary Philosophy of Mind and Language, and Analytic Philosophy and Contemporary Pragmatism. He also has participated in several International Philosophy congresses. During his academic career he has shown an interest in Literary Studies, Semiotics, and Cinema. More recently he began coordinanting a seminar in Ludology, exploring the works of J. Huizinga, R. Callois and E. Fink.

Game as a constituent unit of meaning

FROG 2022 – Poster

Ludology’s development as a discipline of its own has been dedicated for the most part to the study of hypermedia, VR, and videogames, letting mostly behind the question about which elements are shared between those games and the more basic -and probably vaguely defined- kind of games like children’s play, board games, sports, etc. That is, the question about if it’s possible to reach a definition of ‘game’ that ties together all the different ‘play’ manifestations as it seems to be rather difficult to answer. The following presentation will be an attempt at this, aimed at showing ‘what a game is’ as a unit of analysis, the special conditions that allow it to constitute meaning and therefore, to be suceptible of being an object of study for Aesthetics, Narrative studies, and Semiotics. This approach must be Philosophical in nature as it should be any foundational effort for any given discipline (though not achieved through Philosophy exclusively). We will consider the following as antecedents of the present work 1) the studies about games and play made by J. Huizinga, R. Callois, and E. Fink, and 2) the extensive use of ‘language as a game’ analogy present in Philosophy of Language and Epistemology, which has showed the intrinsic relationship between rules and meaning (in L. Wittgenstein and S. Kripke among others). We will propose a theoretical framework aimed at providing a definition of game (and play) with a semiotic performance through the pragmatical use of concepts which will be indicative of the narrative-performative character of any game.

Swen Körner

Swen Körner is a professor at the German Sport University Cologne and Head of Department for Training Pedagogy and Martial Research. His research is geared towards the optimization of police education and training, practical issues of evidence based violence prevention and the relevance of martial arts in different domains of modern society.

Co-Author: Mario S. Staller

The violence of violence: Reflexive violence and its pedagogi-cal potential in video games using the example of “The Last of Us 2”

FROG 2022 – Poster

Violence in video games is regularly in the focus of scientific observation (Ferguson, 2020). What is striking here is that previous observations of science focus predominantly on potentially negative effects of consumption. In this paper, we take a different angle. Based on Luhmann’s social systems theory (Luhmann, 2013, 2020), we analyze the potential of violence in video games with a view to a possible reduction of violence in society (Staller & Körner, 2020).

Using Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us 2” (2020) as an example, we show that the complexity of decision-making situations (Luhmann, 2009) can be experienced via video games thus opening up moments of reflection. The reflexive reference of violence to itself – the ludonarrative embedding of violence in the game – thus creates the potential to control the complex system of violence itself.

Luana Silveri

Luana Silveri PhD., formerly a researcher in ecology with expertise in Freshwater ecology and climate change, now biology and chemistry teacher at the Rosa Bianca – Weisse rose high school and Ph.D. researcher at the Free University of Bozen in Didactic of science and game-based learning. Passionate for games especially board games, outdoor activities lover, and happy teacher.

A science teacher in the game designer shoes – the YouTopia game experience, a journey through ecology concepts, didactic needs, and game design.

FROG 2022 – Poster

Some papers report that many teachers are quite skeptical on the efficacy of games for deep learning in high school students however, there is a consistent set of literature confirming that game-based learning (GBL) can be effective in education, engaging students, and improving life skills and key competencies. In the last years a new GBL perspective is growing, the game development as an effective tool to foster both: teacher consciousness of GBL effectiveness and students STEM competencies and science knowledge.
After the lockdown as science teacher at the high school, some key questions came into my mind: how support students in coming back to school, to the relationships, in deepening scientific topics and in developing system thinking skills and other 21st-century skills. A small team made by 2 teachers, passionate in gaming, together with 10 students decided to develop a board game to support students in dealing with complex ecological concepts, system thinking and future scenario building ability.
This study describes the development process done by the team and are presented the lessons learnt and observations, which may provide insights on how game-based learning can remove barriers to the process of innovating the way we teach and learn.

Pedagogical principles and learning outcomes were defined by teachers and students, ecological topics and game mechanics were decided and developed by students as well as graphical elements. The final output of the creative process has been YouTopia – the ecosystem valley, a cooperative board game focused on sustainability, ecosystems, and climate change adaptation strategies.

Luana Silveri PhD., formerly research in ecology with an expertise in Freshwater ecology and climate change, now biology and chemistry teacher at the Rosa Bianca – Weisse rose high school and PhD researcher at Free University of Bozen in Didactic of science and game-based learning. Passionate for games especially board games, outdoor activities lover and happy teacher.