[2016] Game Happens! – Right Now

June 24-25th, 2016 @ Genova



The theme of the 2016 event is “Right Now”. The theme is the key to interpretation for different questions: When does the game happen? Right now, because it’s a local multiplayer game which can be played in the showcase area. What is the game about? It deals with actual socio-political issues, it works with real data. When should we start making the game community and culture more inclusive? Right now, because we have to deal with the lack of literacy about games and their meanings. When does the video game critique start to be important for this industry? Right now, because we have plenty of great games but few people can understand their potential and video game journalism is yet limited to reviews and scores.


09:00 – 09:30
Welcome Speech

09:30 – 10:15
Flemish Primitives in Cyberspace
Tale of Tales

An exploration of the links between pre-modern art and the creative opportunities offered by the computer as they present themselves in the videogames by Tale of Tales and their plans for a post-games future

10:15 – 11:00
Non-verbal Storytelling Tools for Narrative Designers
Mata Haggis

We all know that getting a great script is a way to tell a story in your game, but what other tools are available to narrative designers? This talk gives an overview and examples of just a few of the ways in which visuals, audio, plot structure, and haptic feedback can be used to enhance your storytelling skills.

11:00 – 11:30
Coffee Break

11:30 – 12:15
Being a Game Designer: Principles for a Thoughtful Practice
Eric Zimmerman

Most talks on games focus on how to make a better product – a more successful game. This session frames what game designers do in a different way. I want to ask the question: How can being a game designer help shape our lives? Apart from the problems and challenges of designing particular games, what are the attitudes and approaches of game design that can connect us more deeply to what we do on a daily basis? For example, practitioners of Parkour see it not just as a series of techniques for jumping over walls, but as an attitude that can permeate every moment of a someone’s life. Could we take a similar approach to game design? Is it possible to think about game design as a way or mode of being? The talk is structured as a series of ‘principles.’ The principles help describe games as a cultural form, and they also describe game design as a creative practice. The principles are drawn from Eric’s experience as a designer, player, and teacher and are meant to express how being a game designer can be meaningful for our lives both inside and outside of games.

12:15 – 12:45
Bring It Home: On Life Journeys and Creating Playful Art
Karen Teixeira

There’s much more to games than that final released build. This talk focuses on how personal journeys feed into creation processes and how embracing ours uniquely shapes us as creators of play.

13:00 – 14:00
Light Lunch

Case Studies

Basketball Stars: How to Approach Casual Game Design
Kenji Schaer

Developed by Miniclip Italy and released in March 2016, Basketball Stars reached the #1 position in Apple and Google stores on more than 100 countries including United States and United Kingdom. The designer of the game – Kenji Schaer – will share the whole story

Pitch Meeting Anxiety: China as a Cure
Manuela Pignatelli

Heart pounding, palm sweating… It’s pitch time! How could China come to help? A few tips on how to face a pitch meeting, all from an unusual Chinese perspective.

Video Games outside Their Comfort Zone
Paolo Branca

From art to music festivals, museums, public spaces and art galleries, video games are becoming more and more common in places once they were foreclosed. How video game events propose the medium to a new audience and what opportunities they offer to institutions, promoters and game developers?

It Takes Very Little to Be Controversial
Mauro Vanetti

Two Interviewees is a little narrative game about the gender gap in job interviews. It exploits ambiguities in the identification of the players with their avatars as a tool for social criticism. The result is a sort of playable leaflet. The game attracted some interest but in a minority of players it triggered some harsh reactions. The game code was even modified by a YouTuber to “fix it” by removing the anti-sexist statement. Which mechanics in an apparently harmless game could raise such controversy? If you want to make a game that delivers a message, is it worth it to kick the hornets’ nest? Which parts of the criticism received can still be educational for a game designer?

XY – A Gendered Experiment
Ariela Maggi

XY is a game/performance on the topic of gender identities and sexuality. Through the use of stories and archival material and leaded by a voice-over, “players” are asked to constantly reflect on the contradictions inherent in the oppositional dichotomies that define and limit gender identities. In a small room, 16 participants are expected to take a stand, a position (both bodily and symbolically) around limited categories and norms that govern contemporary notions of reality. Through the expedient of theatrical masks, the game becomes also the space where participants can relationally invent themselves and their identity.