Applied Games: A Multidisciplinary Research Perspective
This summer course provides a multidisciplinary perspective on Applied Games, i.e. the use of games and game mechanics for purposes other than primarily entertainment, in contemporary culture and society. It addresses the challenges but also the transformative potential of Applied Games, particularly in the areas of education, health and social change, and provides participants with a holistic perspective, including aspects of analysis, design and validation, that is necessary to employ Applied Games meaningfully and productively within the current socio-cultural context.
The program comprises workshops by senior researchers from the Center for Game Research (Utrecht University/UU), the Departments for “Media and Culture Studies” and “Information and Computing Sciences” (UU), the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development (UU), and the Professorship for Interactive Digital Narrative (University of Arts Utrecht/HKU). All workshops will combine lecture segments and critical discussions with hands-on experimental applications and group exercises.
Applied Games are a complex and often loosely define phenomenon, including gamification, serious games, persuasive games, advergames and playful interventions (e.g. for artistic or activist purposes); while these domains are often discussed separately in research literature, our multidisciplinary approach aims to show how they can be productively compared and combined. For that purpose, the summer school is divided into two interrelated tracks, which combine perspectives on games from the humanities, the computer sciences and the social sciences.
The first track covers state-of-the art approaches in Applied Game analysis and design. Apart from formally investigating the design and rhetoric of individual games, this track also includes practice-based approaches such as experimental game-making and Let’s Play videos to capture the impact that Applied Games have on the players. Participants will create and modify their own design experiments to explore how Applied Game prototypes can craft stories and convey persuasive messages.
The second track focuses on specific areas of application within the domains of education, health and social change. These workshops will discuss and illustrate using case studies how games are used in formal learning and professional training contexts, how they can raise awareness of important social issues such as climate change and political radicalization, and how they can stimulate physical and mental health, especially if played with the body rather than a controller. Participants will learn to use and evaluate applied games using sample applications developed at Utrecht University and HKU as case studies.
Dr. Stefan Werning
The summer school is aimed at students (from ambitious BA and MA/MSc students to PhD candidates) as well as members of private and public sector institutions (companies, NGOs etc.) that are already utilizing Applied Games or aim to better understand how and when to use them. It offers participants an innovative platform, combining theoretical and practical approaches to develop a multidisciplinary understanding of Applied Games as a software technology, a form of cultural expression, and a social phenomenon.
On each of the five days we will have two interconnected workshops of 2-4 hours that explore the theme of the day. Optional activities such as a tour of the motion-capture lab at Utrecht University or a workshop on digital game prototyping complement the program. For each workshop, a key text needs to be prepared; moreover, some workshops involve the use of digital tools, however without requiring previous technical knowledge.
Housing through Utrecht Summer School
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