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Interdisciplinary Challenges for Game Studies

May 3, 2017 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

The Center for Computer Games Research invites you to an afternoon of talks by international scholars on current issues in the field of game studies, from the perspectives of technology, design, philosophy, and aesthetics.

The event will take place on May 3rd, 3:00 PM5:00 PM, in Auditorium 4 at the IT University of Copenhagen.

The lectures will be given by Antonios Liapis, Stefano Gualeni and Daniel Vella, from the Institute of Digital Games at the University of Malta, and Olli Tapio Leino, from the School of Creative Media at the City University of Hong Kong. Each lecture will be followed by a short discussion.




Assisting Game Design Tasks with Artificial Intelligence

by Antonios Liapis, Institute of Digital Games, University of Malta
As the number and the size of computer games continues to expand, game companies find ways of empowering designers while reducing the cost of content creation. Designers’ newest tools include commercial game engines, middleware and procedural content generation: such tools allow the creation of increasingly elaborate games, but the learning curve for a novice user often becomes steeper. This talk will present methods for using Artificial Intelligence to assist a novice user in getting acquainted with the interface and the task of designing, as well as automate the more tedious or challenging development tasks. The talk will cover mixed-initiative design where both the human and the computer proactively contribute to the problem solution, although the two initiatives do not need to contribute to the same degree. Mixed-initiative design tools should both support a user in their design process (enhancing productivity) but also contribute with novel ideas (fostering creativity). In order to make computational input to the design process meaningful, the computer must be able to capture the user’s perceptual and cognitive mechanisms, and apply this knowledge to incite the creativity of the designer. The talk will conclude with a general overview of latest trends in Artificial Intelligence literature that can be useful as design tools, whether they are incorporated into a mixed-initiative interface or not.

On the Role of Empathy in Understanding Games the Other People Play

by Olli Tapio Leino, School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong
Building on recent debates in philosophy of computer games, performance studies, and philosophy of technology, this presentation concerns with the role of empathy in understanding computer games, played not only by ourselves but also by other people. Rather than furthering the project of game analysis by concentrating on a case of particular people or a particular game, the presentation takes a step back to look at the structures, which enable the project of game analysis in the first place. In other words, the focus is on the conditions of possibility for relating to, understanding, and appreciating games as played by other people. The inclusion of ‘other people’ implies a focus on gameplay as a performance. The presentation seeks to establish that at least two distinct ‘levels’ of empathy are required for understanding computer gameplay performances: empathy based on human condition, and empathy based on the ‘gameplay condition’ of the game. Furthermore, it argues that in the context of interdisciplinary research into computer games, this empathetic awareness is especially relevant, and, at play when interpreting secondary materials such as surveys, player interviews, participant observation notes, and quantitative data: by knowing the game, we are able to understand what our informants are telling us, and, by talking to our informants, we are able to understand the game better.

Toying Around with Thought Experiments

by Stefano Gualeni, Institute of Digital Games, University of Malta
For the most part, thought experiments consist of questions about hypothetical situations. They are useful philosophical tools for revealing ambiguities and contradictions in the ways we articulate thoughts and orient our moral compass. In this talk, Stefano will introduce the audience to the possibility of framing thought experiments as interactive virtual experiences. He will also present a playful thought experiment of his own: his new, soon-to-be-released, philosophical videogame about soup.

“There May Be No Answers, But One Must Still Forge Ahead”: Dark Souls and Romanticism

by Daniel Vella, Institute of Digital Games, University of Malta
Drawing links between literary theory, philosophy and game studies, this lecture will look at Dark Souls (From Software 2011) in the context of the literary tradition of Romanticism, arguing that the adoption of Romantic tropes in Dark Souls foregrounds a parallel between the subjective conditions of videogame play and the understanding of subjectivity – marked by a sense of alienation and exile – expressed in the Romantic poetry of Wordsworth, Coleridge and others.




Antonios Liapis is a Lecturer at the Institute of Digital Games, University of Malta (UoM). He received his 5-year Diploma (2007) in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens and the M.Sc. (2011) and Ph.D. (2014) in Information Technology from the IT University of Copenhagen. He does research on the crossroads of game design, artificial intelligence and computational creativity. More specifically, he explores the limits of computational input to the human-driven design process in computer-aided design tools. Beyond AI-assisted game design, his research pursuits revolve around procedural content generation, digital aesthetics, evolutionary computation, neuroevolution and constrained optimization. He has published over 50 journal and conference papers in the aforementioned fields, and has won several awards. He is actively involved in organizing workshops and conferences on the topics of aesthetics, artificial intelligence and games as research environments. Finally, he has led or participated in the design and development of several games of varying scope and for different target audiences, including three European projects (FP7 and H2020).

Dr Olli Tapio Leino is a scholar specializing in philosophy of computer games, new media, and technology, currently based at School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong. His research focuses on the technological specificity of computer games, its implications to experience, emotion, and interpretation, and, its relationship to embodiment, empathy, (inter)subjectivity, and performativity.

Trained as an architect, Stefano Gualeni is a philosopher and videogame designer who is best known for creating the videogames Tony Tough and the Night of Roasted Moths (1997) and Gua-Le- Ni; or, The Horrendous Parade (2012). He is a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Digital Games, University of Malta (Malta). His work takes place at the intersections between continental philosophy and the design of virtual worlds. Both a philosopher who designs videogames and a game designer who is passionate about philosophy, Stefano studies virtual worlds in their role as mediators of thought: as interactive, artificial environments where philosophical ideas, world-views, and thought-experiments can be explored, negotiated, and communicated. Web: stefano.gua-le-ni.com

Dr Daniel Vella is a lecturer in the Institute of Digital Games at the University of Malta. He lectures on topics including game studies, narratology, player experience and game aesthetics. He has published papers on aesthetic theory and videogames, the phenomenology of player experience, ludic subjectivity, spatiality in games and narratological approaches to player-characters. Recently, he was program chair of the 10th International Conference in the Philosophy of Computer Games.


May 3, 2017
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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