Eugen Pfister

Project Lead of the SNF Ambizione research project “Horror – Game – Politics”. Researches the History of Political Ideas in Video Games. Studied History and Political Sciences at the University of Vienna and at the Université de Paris IV- Sorbonne. Wrote his Ph.D. in History of the Political Communication at the University of Frankfurt am Main and at the University of Trento.

The Austrian games industry and the free market economy 1991-2006. A political history of ideas.

FROG 2020 – Keynote

The Austrian games industry was particularly successful with business simulations and construction games. In these games we got to know the beautiful new economic world of the post-cold war period in a playful way: Capital had to be increased, production expanded, profits maximised and competition eliminated. During their heyday, the Austrian developer scene were honoured with state and federal awards, and Austrian politicians presented themselves to the press together with “their” shooting stars. After various bankruptcies, takeovers and company dissolutions, the young model entrepreneurs disappeared just as quickly from the collective memory. It is remarkable that this peak phase of Austrian game production took place at the same time as a political transition phase of Austria, which has not yet been studied much. After the end of the Cold War, Austria joined the European Union. In addition to the paradigm shift in foreign policy, there were also far-reaching changes on the social and economic policy side. For example, the privatisation of Austria Tabakwerke, Telekom and Post took place between 1991 and 2006. In addition, Austrian federal governments have adopted several austerity packages since 1995. It can therefore be said that the development of the Austrian game industry took place in a time of political and social change. In this sense, it is necessary to examine whether the games that emerged can also be read as a sources of direct contemporary Austrian history.

Clara Fernandez-Vara

Clara Fernández-Vara is Associate Arts Professor at the NYU Game Center and co-founder of Fiction Control, a narrative design company. She’s a game designer and writer as well as an academic, so her work for the last 10 years combines scholarship with the creation of narrative games both  for research and in the commercial sphere. Her first book, Introduction to Game Analysis, has been published by Routledge.

NYU Game Center

Playing the Detective: Game Design and Mysteries

Keynote, FROG main conference | Saturday, 14th October, 09:45 – 10:45

Detective stories and games allow us to understand both how stories can be playful and how games can be narrative. In the case of games, designers have to help the player become a detective by creating ways to encourage exegesis, which entails letting players explore, gather information, and then come up with their own version of the story. Two components are essential for the player to be a detective and for designing a compelling mystery: spatial narratives where the challenge is decoding how the space reveals what has happened there, and leaving informational gaps and providing tools for storytelling.

Eugen Pfister

Eugen Pfister is a researcher at the Institute of Culture Studies and Theatre history (ÖAW) and lecturerer at the University of Vienna. Founding Member of the research group “Geschichtswissenschaft und Digitale Spiele”. Since 2015 he operates a research blog on cultural studies and video games called “Spiel-Kultur-Wissenschaft.

Institute of Culture Studies and Theatre history (ÖAW) & University of Vienna.

Politics in Games: How (we) players are potentially socialized in digital games

Keynote, FROG main conference | Saturday, 14th October, 15:00 – 16:00

“Whatever we know about society, or indeed about the world in which we live, we know through the mass media” (Niklas Luhman). All information we acquire in mass media frames our future cultural, economic, social and political knowledge. This means that we are also partly socialised in video game. Our collective identities are a result not only of our upbringing and education, but also of our interaction with mass media, especially when related to the more abstract concepts of politics and society. The further away such knowledge is from the experience of our everyday life, the more likely we are to learn it in popular culture.

Jaroslav Švelch

Jaroslav Švelch is a postdoctoral researcher at University of Bergen and assistant professor at Charles University. He is the author of the upcoming monograph Gaming the Iron Curtain on the social history of games in 1980s Czechoslovakia. He is currently researching history, theory, and reception of video game monsters.

University of Bergen

We have always been indie: Lessons from social history of game making in 1980s Czechoslovakia

Keynote, FROG main conference | Sunday, 15th October, 15:00 – 16:00

In my talk, I want to look at my historical work about history of games in Czechoslovakia, and find its implications for digital game theory and design. Through a social historical lens, I want to rediscover the connections between state policies, institutions, banal facts of everyday life and the practices of playing and making games. I will argue that games have always been used for more than entertainment and that many aspects of today’s independent games find their foreshadowing on 1980s homebrew scenes.

Katharina Fellnhofer

Katharina Fellnhofer is an Erwin-Schrödinger-Fellow at the Lappeenranta University of Technology. In addition, she is the CEO of the Research and Innovation Management GmbH, which is engaged in interdisciplinary European research and innovation projects (e.g. HORIZON2020 projects). She holds a PhD in Social and Economic Sciences from the University of Innsbruck, Austria. As a docent at the Lappeenranta University of Technology, she is engaged in boosting innovative educational science for entrepreneurship education in Europe.

Lappeenranta University of Technology

Entrepreneurship education via games?

Keynote, FROG main conference | Sunday, 15th October, 09:45 – 10:45

Entrepreneurship education via games?In entrepreneurship education, it is well known that the effectiveness of different educational initiatives appears to vary across different approaches. Kuratko (2003; 2005) stresses in his contribution regarding the development, trends, and challenges the importance of innovative driven initiatives within this field as international economic force. In his call to action he emphasized to expand pedagogies through new and innovative approaches for teaching entrepreneurship. In line with his suggestion we will discuss innovative approaches such as entrepreneurial stories and entrepreneurial games to prepare potential entrepreneurs for an exciting entrepreneurial journey.

Scot Osterweil

Scot Osterweil is Creative Director of the Education Arcade and the Game Lab in the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program. He has designed games in both academic and commercial environments.  Designs include the acclaimed Zoombinis series (math and logic), Vanished: The MIT/Smithsonian Game (environmental science), Labyrinth (math), Kids Survey Network (data and statistics), Caduceus (medicine), and iCue (history).  He is a founder and Creative Director of Learning Games Network ( where he led the Gates Foundation’s Language Learning Initiative (ESL), and where he designed Quandary, named Game of the Year at the 2013 Games for Change festival.


Games as Resistance

Keynote, FROG main conference | Friday, 13th October, 13:30 – 14:30

As games have become big business, and forms of mass media, they have also become sites of political struggle (see Gamergate). This talk will be an exploration of the ways in which games are often conveyors of dominant culture, and how we can marshal them in resistance to those same forces of dominance.