A MAZE FESTIVAL — BERLIN 2017
This month from the 26–29 April we were invited as GameLab of CRI-CEntre de Recherche Interdisciplinaire of Paris at the A Maze — International Independent Vidogames and Playful Media Festival to do a presentation on Scientific Games.
This article is an introduction to how we participated in the festival as GameLab and a brief introduction to the festival itself,for specific articles on the festival analyzing, describing and interviews of the festival check out the series i made on the festival.
We had the great honor to be part of the festival and a pleasure to share our work with all the gaming and art community for this edition as GameLab of CRI-Centre de Recherche Interdisciplinaire of Paris.
The Festival hosted 4 days of program including 1 permanent exhibition of games,talks,workshops, VR based presentations and other media, and music concerts each night.
This is a place that harvests creativity, communication,collaboration,open thinking and diversity.
There were a lot of very interesting toys and controllers too like the winner of the audience prize “VINYLOS” by JOSEF WHO? & JONAS BO! (AUSTRIA), “Little Miss Laser”: Super Fun by Kevin “Gaeel” Bradshaw, Victor “Zoryall” Depardieu & Elodie “Mayatako” Leroy, Flippaper by Jérémie Cortial + Roman Miletitch.
I was in charge of organizing the event in Berlin and together with Mourdjen Bari we prepared games that were to be exhibited in the permanent exhibition during the festival and we had a presentation/discussion with audience on the 3d day the 28th of May 2017.
We did an extensive research with the Lab to find games that were about science with the criteria of finding the most developed ones and the ones that we found achieved their the best their educative and pedagogic potential.
We chose 8 games that were a mix between games that were created in CRI in France and others that were mainly from the US.
We had three machines next to each other displaying the games we chose in their own landing page each as part of the permanent exhibition were people could play during the whole festival.http://www.amaze-berlin.de/content/files/ScienceGamesZoomachines.pdf
Our presentation had 2 main goals that we achieved with the audience together : -
-Start a fruitful discussion on the topic of Science Games and engage practical connections with the people in the presentation to give solutions and answers to why?how? should this topic progress
- Share the spirit of the GameLab and CRI through our activity and particular form of presenting and through our work in the workshop
We achieved this through starting with an icebreaker game using the 50/50 method which uses peoples data to make music on the spot with the audience.
This got the people engaged and interested to know what we were doing and with this we gave them an example of data science as a form of data collection to make music.
Then I made a detailed introduction to who we were and what we did as a GameLab and CRI, highlighting the interdisciplinary and open mindset of CRI.
We explained that we had already as a Center worked in such a subject, during the so called GLASS- Game Lab Summer School of 2015, and had other students that worked on this kind of topic before, we decided to take these games that were created here and others from around the world, mix them up, and use this to create a discussion around the science game topic.
What are these games about?
Most of the games are around biology and chemistry, and are created either in France or in the US.
Why focus on biology?
Why we focused on biology? well because its an interesting area and we think its not taught a lot in school and also there are not a lot of games on biology.
On another level we think that science games and biology in specific are a good representation of the what the CRI stands for , to quote Francois Taddei the director of CRI “all of us are born scientists” and as kids as explorers we are not afraid to experiment and fail with what we are learning, so in this sense we think that through games, we could encourage that scientist in all of us as adults, and that exploratory mindset and science games can be a perfect analogy to this concept because in a game we can try,fail and redo it again with no consequence in real life.
Then Mourdjen Bari continued to a concrete one by one explanation of the games themselves with concrete examples with videos of the gameplay and an analysis of the games focused on why we chose them?what was was their learning purpose?what was the most interesting thing about them.
Mourdjen presented also the differences between each game and how they approached the learning part, also had a focus on the game mechanics and the game design.
Then we preceded with a guided discussion with the public where we talked in specific in detail the different problems and ideas of the topic.
We had a mix of profiles coming to see our presentation ranging from game designers, scientists, designers, journalists, artists, programmers to note the game director of the game SUPERHOT https://superhotgame.com/ .
Their feedback was very interesting and it pointed to a lot of problems dealing with the lack of development of these kind of games and the lack of esthetic quality.
We also discussed the probability that most of this was maybe due to a lack of a common language,vocabulary and communication between disciplines, in this way we could give examples on how it could work based on the experience we had from the CRI, the way how we work in an interdisciplinary fashion and how we try to open and at the same time connect everything within our ecosystem.
The audience found this intriguing and most of them didn’t hear about the GameLab and the CRI before so the discussion got even more engaged in very specific topics and how this could be a ground of further discussion on game development and further exploration in interdisciplinary communication, this being what we really wanted to achieve with our presentation.
Our aim was to engage the people to think about this topic in a societal way and transpose and connect the actuality and current position of the science games into how they reflected our current societal environment.
For further reading you can check out her stories dedicated to different parts of the festival including game analysis, interviews with the game developers,the festival organizers and impressions from the festival.