[2017] Game Happens – On Stage

June 23-24, 2017 @ Genova, Italy



The theme of the fourth edition of Game Happens – On Stage – is a statement: a game can happen everywhere, at any time, and every space can be a stage of your interactive world. Especially today, thanks to virtual reality experiences, stepping into a virtual territory is a performative act: it’s like being on stage (performing in real time), and being among the audience in a theatre (attending a live performance) at the same time.

Check our conference programme and our selection of exhibited games.

Conference Programme

Paolo Pedercini

Paolo Pedercini is a game developer, artist and educator. He teaches digital media production and experimental game design at the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University. Since 2003 he works under the project name Molleindustria producing provocative games addressing issues of social and environmental justice (McDonald’s videogame, Oiligarchy, Phone Story), religion (Faith Fighter) and labor and alienation (Every Day the Same Dream, Unmanned).

Stranger Playthings: Remaking a VR Counterculture

The second coming of Virtual Reality is a convergence of different technological traditions with different aesthetics, goals, and strategies. In this talk Paolo Pedercini questions the current narratives supporting the idea of VR as a mass-consumer product, and recuperate some of the visionary and countercultural ideas that went out of fashion since the early ’90s.

Landia Egal

As a producer, Landia Egal has been working on innovative productions using the New Media platforms to tell interactive stories (immersive, games, web, transmedia, installations). She took part in the production of several great award-winning projects, such as Notes on blindness: Into Darkness, the stunning companion piece to the acclaimed feature documentary Notes on Blindness. After working for several companies in France and in Australia, Landia moved to London in 2016 and created a new company focusing on storytelling & art projects using immersive technologies.

Mink Ette

Mink Ette is a freelance game designer and immersive entertainment creator. She is a digital storyteller specialising in interactive experiences and games. Her approach is to encourage an audience to get excited about ideas and concepts, through strategically playful design. She draws on her eclectic background to bring unique perspectives to every challenge, She is incapable of an uninspired suggestion. A product designer turned theatre maker turned game designer turned digital creative, Mink Ette can wax lyrical as much about brand strategy as I can about plastic moulding techniques, player psychology, game theory or molecular gastronomy. Her works have been played at festivals around the world, exhibited in museums and have won various awards.

David Aldhouse

David Aldhouse brings over a decade of experience as an award winning motion graphics designer for television into his work as a computer game artist, and escape room designer. His flare for special effects met the theatrical when he became a set design assistant and later scenographer for Punchdrunk, and designer for immersive theatre companies Tin Horse Theatre and Coney. He has co-founded two escape room companies, 60minutesto in Portland, Oregon, USA and Oubliette in London, UK.

Tales from the Escape Room

Mink Ette and David Aldhouse talked about things they had learned while designing the four escape rooms they’ve made, the technical challenges of building physical puzzles, how they incorporate storytelling into the environments they create and the things that inspired their coolest magic tricks.

Simon Wilkinson

Simon Wilkinson’s work incorporates audiovisual, installation, VR, electronic music, online and performance mediums; often combining multiple approaches simultaneously to create highly immersive narrative environments which invite prolonged audience engagement. His work has been featured at Tate Modern and regularly tours internationally. The most recent five works, produced under the name CiRCA69 and collectively entitled Whilst The Rest Were Sleeping, exist within a continuos narrative universe. Shows from this series have, in 2016/17, enjoyed a 16 nation world tour across 6 continents. A world premier of the complete collection will take place in Mexico City October 2017 as part of MutekMX. Simon guest lectures at a large number of international universities including Netherlands Film Academy, Sarajevo Academy of Fine Art, Bilkent University Ankara, Lima University of Technology and Engineering and a number of UK universities. He was the lead fcilitator on British Council’s Transmedia Thinktank in Venezuela 2016.

Gameplay and Immersive Technologies in Theatre

Simon Wilkinson talked about his new large scale show Whilst The Rest Were Sleeping as a means for discussing how VR and AR can form the core elements of a large social and gameplay driven theatre show.

Elizabeth Simoens

Elizabeth Simoens is a dancer, games maker, artist, and writer. She studied at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and now holds a Masters Certificate in Creative Practice. With a background in choreography and a passion for solving mysteries and battling orcs, she draws on a cornucopia of inspirations to create games and performances for SeaSylph Games. She is an experienced and creative speaker, and has delivered talks on topics such as the logistics of live video games, how to embrace chaos, or very rapid ballet history.

Embracing Chaos: Experiences in Live Games

Elizabeth chronicles her experience in creating games for museums, raves, and the streets of London focusing on how both the site and the audience alter the design of each game. Beyond the design, Elizabeth touches on the inherent chaos involved in running live games based on her experience with Fire Hazard Games and her own works as SeaSylph Games.

Hannah Nicklin

Hannah Nicklin is a writer, game designer, academic, producer & artist working at the confluence of performance writing, community-based practices & game design. She has a PhD in games influenced theatre & theatre influenced games. She makes works of art, games and installations that find the right way to ask people to hear a story. Credits: The RSC, The V&A, RPS, The BBC, Twisted Tree Games (Ed Key), Mutazione (Die Gute Fabrik), Hide & Seek, Coney, Now Play This, Feral Vector, Gamecity, & Goldsmith’s University.

Suspension of Disbelief in Game Design

At Game Happens she talked about games writing and narrative design from a playwright’s perspective, touching on the centuries old history of interaction in the playful arts, different means of constructing the part-real part-imagined space of suspended disbelief that good storytelling relies upon, and the different affordances of different forms in telling the story you want to tell – examining a form-first approach to storytelling. The talk draws on examples from her own work in performance and games, as well as being informed by her research in the area.

Xalavier Nelson Jr.

Xalavier Nelson Jr. is a writer and game developer of color whose work has been featured/spotlighted on outlets including PC Gamer, Rock Paper Shotgun, Critical Distance, and Waypoint.

Fasih Sayin

Besides being a game designer and a narratologist, Dr. Fasih Sayin is also a lawyer. Sayin studied Cinema at Plato Academy and the Marmara University where he focused on interactive narrative for his M.A and PhD. He still teaches narratology. After freelancing as a design consultant, he joined Crytek in 2012. He worked numerous projects and is currently the lead narrative designer on Crytek’s upcoming shooter Hunt.

Are We Still In The Game? The Mental Consequences of Storytelling in VR

A lot has changed about the way we tell stories in video games. New immersive technologies like VR are almost literally about throwing the playbook out of the window. This talk will focus on how VR and other modern gameplay systems change the way players interact with the game, focusing on the story side of things. Both professionals and newcomers can benefit from unforeseen results of the player being inside the game. Some of these results are funny… Others are frightening.

Pietro Guardini

Pietro Guardini is an independent Games User Researcher with 18 years of research experience. He began doing research on human-computer interaction in 1999 in the academy. Nine years later, he entered the gaming industry and today he assists several studios in developing their best gaming experiences.

The Psychology of Video Games in 2017

Can Psychology help a team to develop a successful videogame? Are all those research findings actually helpful, or do they just hinder the experience designers intend to craft? Do they offer something actionable, or just theory? Here, I will explain why Psychology truly is every designer\’s most powerful ally. The challenge for develpers in 2017 is to anticipate how audiences will interact with their game and to be 100% sure they are experiencing the intended design, and Psychology can help.

Rhianna Pratchett

Rhianna Pratchett is an award-winning writer for games, comics, film and TV. She has wrestled the wild beasts of narrative on titles such as: Heavenly Sword, Mirror’s Edge, the entire Overlord series, Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Her work has received awards from the Writers’Guild of America, the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, DICE, SXSW, and a BAFTA nomination. In the world of comics, she’s worked for DC, Dark Horse and Marvel, and is currently writing film and TV projects with the Jim Henson Company, Film4 and O3 Productions. Like most writers, she likes hard liquor and soft cats.

Exhibition Programme


Il tema della quarta edizione di Game Happens – On Stage – è una dichiarazione di intenti: un gioco può avere luogo ovunque, in qualsiasi momento, e qualsiasi spazio può diventare il palcoscenico del tuo mondo interattivo. In particolar modo oggi, grazie alle esperienze in realtà virtuale, entrare in un terrorio digitale è un atto performativo: è come essere sempre su un palcoscenico (una vera e propria performance in tempo reale) e, contemporaneamente, far parte del pubblico di uno spettacolo teatrale.