Clash of Realities: Keynote Speaker Doris Rusch

03. April 2012, Martin Lorber

Die Clash of Realities geht in die vierte Runde! Die „4th International Computer Game Conference Cologne“ findet vom 23. bis zum 25. Mai 2012 an der Fachhochschule Köln statt. Die Tagung richtet sich sowohl an ein breites Fachpublikum aus Wissenschaft, Game Design und Pädagogik als auch an Studierende, Journalisten und die interessierte Öffentlichkeit. Veranstaltet wird die Tagung vom Institut für Medienforschung und Medienpädagogik der Fachhochschule Köln, dem Cologne Game Lab sowie Electronic Arts Deutschland. In den kommenden Wochen werde ich Ihnen die wichtigsten Keynote Speaker und Abstracts der Tagung präsentieren. Weitere Informationen zur Clash of Realities finden Sie über die Offizielle Website. Sie können sich auch bequem per Facebook oder Twitter auf dem Laufenden halten.

Bio Doris Rusch:

Doris C. Rusch is game designer, researcher, play aficionado and holds a position as assistant professor for game design at DePaul University in Chicago. Before that she did post doctoral work at GAMBIT Game Lab, MIT, and University of Technology, Vienna, acted as interims head of the Applied Game Studies Department at Danube University, and taught several game related courses at University of Technology, Vienna, and Vienna University.

Rusch’s work is focused on the theory and practice of game design, particularly in regard to games about the “human experience”. She is an expert in modeling abstract ideas in games (e.g. games about love, addiction, trust etc.) via metaphor and analogy. Having completed studies in Literature, Philosophy, Comparative Media Studies and English at Vienna University, she received her Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics and Interactive Systems in 2004.

Abstract: Game Design Zen

This talk investigates the lessons learnt from designing games about addiction (“Akrasia”), depression (“Elude”), love (“the Bridge”) and overcoming anxieties (“Zombie Yoga”) and how these lessons can not only inform the design of other games about the human condition, but the design of a constructive life.

Creating something does not just change the material one works with. It also changes the maker. One enters into a dialogue with the piece that shall be created and by exploring it, one explores oneself. The investment of psychic energy that goes into any kind of creative act, from cooking to art making, leads to a more complex self and it changes our conceptual framework. We start to see things – life – differently, and we begin to understand it in terms of the concepts the creative act provides.

The process of designing games, specifically games about the human condition, affords a particularly rich reservoir of ideas and strategies that prove valuable when applied to daily life.

Areas of exploration include:

  • the power of iteration: don’t aim for perfection, get into action.
  • system thinking: exchange a “tragic”, bipolar view for a “comic”, systemic understanding of situations and circumstances. Everything is connected in a system.
  • problem solving: stay focused on the goal, be aware of the conflict and define a possibility space for play.
  • from complexity to simplicity: designing games about the human condition often requires disentangling of complex issues. This creates distance to the problem at hand and potential solutions become apparent.
  • paying attention: game design is experience design; learning to be conscious of one’s experiences in the moment is the first step towards emotionally rich games and a fulfilled life.
  • Shifting the focus to the player: the buddhists know that self-centeredness causes suffering. As a game designer, there is no one more important than the player and her experience.
  • sharing control: unlike traditional media or art, which is independent of recipients, games  cannot exist without players. Without players, they are mere rule-sets without life. Designing a game is an invitation to play. To play well with others, you have to share control.
  • Changing perspectives: games allow us to explore new roles. The design process, too, requires the exploration of different vantage points from which to interact with a system. This flexibility in viewpoint is a precondition to empathy.



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