Gabrielle Trépanier-Jobin

Gabrielle Trépanier-Jobin is a professor in Game Studies at the School of Media of Université du Québec à Montréal and the Co-Director of the research group Homo Ludens. Her PhD thesis explores the possibility of using parodies as playful means to denaturalize gender stereotypes. During her postdoctoral fellowship at MIT, she pursued her work on gender parody in the field of game studies. She is currently conducting research on players’ immersion, on equality, diversity and inclusion in the video game industry, as well as on the potential of video and board games to raise awareness about social and environmental issues.

Hierarchy, Discrimination and Inequality in the Video Game Industry

FROG 2022 – Keynote

Despite the culture of informality that prevails in the video game industry, its structures remain highly hierarchical. Not all employees can evenly express their opinions, are equally heard, are granted the same creative freedom or are given the same opportunities. This talk will present the results of a survey on equality, diversity and inclusion, conducted among 1700 employees from the Quebec gaming industry, and of 20 semi-structured interviews made with women and racialized minorities who encountered problems in development teams. These results show that even though women, non-cisgender people, sexual and ethnic minorities, as well as people with mental or physical disabilities are generally satisfied by their working conditions in the video game industry, they face more obstacles and experience more problems than white heterosexual men. These obstacles and problems are even more pronounced for women and non-cisgender people. These results will be interpreted in light of concepts such as the glass ceiling, the glass slipper, the impostor syndrome, the stereotype threat, the signaling threat, as well as the ordinary/hostile/benevolent sexism to highlight the power relations at work in the video game industry.

Harald Koberg

Harald is a games researcher, media pedagogue and cultural mediator based around 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 all activities concerning digital play and organizes the annual button Festival of Gaming Culture. He frequently speaks and teaches at the University of Graz and other universities and educational institutions. His first book »Freies Spiel: Digitales Spielen und die Sehnsucht nach Wirkmächtigkeit« was published by Büchner Verlag.

For Play’s Sake: What makes us play and how we can fight it

FROG 2022 – Keynote

It’s not play if you have to. That is one part of a definition of play that most of us might be able to agree on. Foucault probably wouldn’t. Because it is power structures that make us decide. What we want can never be fully separated from what we ought to want. And games offer counter-places and counter-publics to live up to those needs.

To play, at the same time, is to be rebellious. It’s about choosing new sets of rules and testing them. But it’s happening in the in-betweens of the analogue and the digital, reality and fiction, the actual and the virtual, earnestness and fun. And it’s happening on the turfs of huge corporations. So how rebellious can it be?

Based on his qualitative research among players and their social surroundings, Harald understands play as a source of experiences of empowerment. He analyses them against the background of social realities that are increasingly guided by what is being called libertarian paternalism and that invoke in many people a feeling of not being able to reach what they are owed or supposed to achieve.

In this talk he will ask how real this empowerment can be and how it might impact social dynamics. Are games the padded cells of a system that lets us romp and rage for a while, until we are ready to fit in again, into the roles it has in store for us? Or might they also encourage us to rethink the system itself?

Simone Kriglstein

Simone Kriglstein is an associate professor at Masaryk University, as well as a scientist at the Austrian Institute of Technology. She specializes in designing and evaluating user interfaces and interaction methods in different fields, including games. Her work has been published in international conference proceedings such as the Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems and journals like Computer & Graphics and Computers in Human Behavior.

Bullying Is NOT a Game – But Games Can Help Preventing It

FROG 2022 – Keynote

Unfortunately, many young people in today’s world are exposed to bullying, posing serious social problem at schools worldwide. Especially around the age of 11 to 12, when children try out different things and search for their identity, bullying arises very often from the fear of the unknown, e.g., the different thinking, looks, or backgrounds. Many of those who are affected have to deal with it on a daily basis with studies already confirming the negative impact of bullying on the psychological and academic development of young people. With the rise of the Internet bullying also shifted from the physical space towards a virtual one. In the past, bullying often took place in classrooms where teachers had the opportunity to intervene and find solutions. Nowadays, however, young people frequently use smartphones and social media which offer an increased degree of anonymity which, in turn, can contribute to bullying and cyberbullying. Therefore, prevention strategies as early as possible — such as workshops in schools – are essential to make children more sensitive to this topic. However, many initiatives against bullying in schools often only focus on theoretical facts. This talk will explore the question how can we give a more playful touch to such prevention efforts to make them more engaging to a young audience, for example, via serious games.

Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall

Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall (PhD, Stanford University) is Professor of History at California State University – San Marcos. Her newest book, Slave Revolt on Screen: The Haitian Revolution in Film and Video Games, was published in 2021 by the University Press of Mississippi and received the Honorable Mention for the Haitian Studies Association biennial Book Prize. Her previous works include The Abbé Grégoire and the French Revolution: The Making of Modern Universalism (UC Press, 2005; paperback, 2021); Haitian History: New Perspectives (Routledge, 2012) and numerous articles on French and Haitian history.

Slave Revolt on Screen: Video Games on Haitian Slave Resistance

FROG 2022 – Keynote

The Haitian Revolution (1791 – 1804) was a momentous occasion in world history, the first successful revolution by enslaved Africans in the Americas. But the Revolution’s memory was long suppressed in the US and Europe, prompted by fears among slaveholders that it would inspire copycat uprisings by enslaved people elsewhere.

One place where the Revolution’s memory has been revived is in video games. How well has this medium handled this sensitive topic, and has it mattered whether the developers were themselves descendants of enslaved people? This talk will introduce the Revolution and compare the ways that slave revolt in Haiti has been depicted in video games such as Assassin’s Creed Freedom Cry and Coktel’s Freedom: Rebels in the Darkness. In what ways, the talk will ask, do games like these help preserve the memory of slavery and of the courage of enslaved people fighting against an oppressive system? In what ways do they distort this history? How have players from different backgrounds responded to these games? What inequalities exist in who has the capital and know-how to make games about Haiti’s history? And how can developers with means to do so work to make more socially responsible games on this history?