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December 11, 2011

NEWMEDIA_studies Magazine issue #5: Serious Gaming

The students of our New Media & Digital Culture MA program have put together a special issue on games for the NEWMEDIA_studies Magazine called Serious Gaming!

Edited by Eline Muijres and Anna Sonnemans, this issue is, however, not all about what has become known as "serious games". Instead, also expect articles on a wide variety of topics including judaism in El Shaddai, recursive structures in Red Dead Redemption, a critical look on game journalism, techno-intimacy in Japanese dating sims, and the concept of a "gamer dead point". Enjoy!

November 21, 2011

Think Design Play: DiGRA 2011 Conference papers online

The digital conference proceedings of the Think Design Play: DiGRA 2011 Conference, held recently in Hilversum here in The Netherlands, are now online. We were fortunate that many papers of our team, our affiliated researchers and (former) students were accepted. Here's an overview:

Lammes, Sybille - "The map as playground: Locationbased games as cartographical practices" (INFO/Full Text)

Glas, René - "Breaking Reality: Exploring Pervasive Cheating in Foursquare" (INFO/Full Text)

Rao, Valentina - "How to Say Things with Actions I: a Theory of Discourse for Video Games for Change" (INFO/Full Text)

van Meurs, Richard - "And Then You Wait: The Issue of Dead Time in Social Network Games" (INFO/Full Text)

van Zwieten, Martijn - "Danger Close: Contesting Ideologies and Contemporary Military Conflict in First Person Shooters" (INFO/Full Text)

Nieborg, David - "The winner takes all: Standardization and console games" (INFO/Full Text)

van Roessel, Lies, with Jeroen van Mastrigt - "Collaboration and Team Composition in Applied Game Creation Processes" (INFO/Full Text)

Jacobs, Melinda, with Tanja Sihvonen - "In Perpetual Beta? On the Participatory Design of Facebook Games" (INFO/Full Text)

November 11, 2011

Towards an International Master Degree Game Studies

The Executive Board (College van Bestuur) of Utrecht University has awarded the Faculty of Humanities a subsidy (30.000 euro) to develop an International Master Degree Game Studies. In the academic year 2011-2012 we will organize expert meetings with game research groups of the IT University of Copenhagen (Msc in IT: Games), the University of Potsdam (Digital Games Research Center), the University of West of England (Play Research Group), and the University of Tampere (Game Research Lab).

For more information, contact Joost Raessens (J.Raessens(at)uu.nl).

October 17, 2011

Handbook of Computer Game Studies paperback out now.

The Handbook of Computer Game Studies, edited by our own Joost Raessens and Jeffrey Goldstein for The MIT Press and first released in hardcover in 2005, is finally on sale in paperback edition.

For those who do not own a copy yet, here's the book description from the MIT Press website. The table of content can be found here.


New media students, teachers, and professionals have long needed a comprehensive scholarly treatment of digital games that deals with the history, design, reception, and aesthetics of games along with their social and cultural context. The Handbook of Computer Game Studies fills this need with a definitive look at the subject from a broad range of perspectives. Contributors come from cognitive science and artificial intelligence, developmental, social, and clinical psychology, history, film, theater, and literary studies, cultural studies, and philosophy as well as game design and development. The text includes both scholarly articles and journalism from such well-known voices as Douglas Rushkoff, Sherry Turkle, Henry Jenkins, Katie Salen, Eric Zimmerman, and others.
 Contributors consider the “prehistory” of computer games and the development of computer games themselves; game development from the designer’s point of view; empirical research on the psychological effects of computer games, including the use of computer games in clinical and educational settings; the aesthetics of games in comparison to film and literature; the effect of computer games on cultural identity, including gender and ethnicity; the relation  of computer games to social behavior, including, among other matters, the inadequacy of laboratory experiments linking games and aggression and the different modes of participation in computer game culture.

July 29, 2011

Upcoming event: Videogame Music Symposium


On September 13, Utrecht University will be hosting the Videgame Music Symposium aimed at new media, game studies & musicology students and researchers as well as videogame designers and composers. From the symposium website:
With internationally renowned speakers from the fields of game studies and game music research, game designers and students, this one-day symposium at Utrecht University seeks to outline an agenda for videogame music research. The symposium investigates music's contribution to three important domains of videogaming: Play, Fans, and Space. In addition, a game music workshop will enable researchers, students, designers and gamers to join forces in the development and study of videogame music.
The event is free, but space will be limited! Registration will begin at the symposium website on 13 August2011.

July 20, 2011

Sybille Lammes receives ERC Starting Grant for "Charting the Digital" research project














More good news! The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded our own Sybille Lammes with a prestigious ERC Starting Grant!

Here's a description of the "Charting the Digital" research project, which will involve Lammes as principal investigator, a postdoc and two PhD positions:
The key objective of this research programme is to investigate to what extent and how digital maps can be considered as new techno-cultural phenomena that have altered our way of being in and moving through our spatial environments. Digital maps allow a greater degree of interaction between users and mapping interfaces than analogue maps do. Instead of just reading maps, users have far more influence on how maps look. Whether a navigation device that adjusts its route-display according to where the driver chooses to go, or a map in a computer-game that is partly created by players, maps have become more interactive and are now co-produced by their users.

Part of this extensive research project investigates how digital maps are related to play. It focusses on a two-fold cultural paradigm shift that occurred since the emergence of digital maps and a parallel process of cultural ludification. Theses two shifts come together in a myriad of playful mapping practices that people nowadays engage with and that will be examined in this project.
The press release from the Utrecht University can be found here (in dutch).

Teun Dubbelman receives Fulbright scholarship

The Center for the Study of Digital Games and Play congratulates our own Teun Dubbelman with receiving the prestigious Fulbright scholarship!

From the press release:

Teun Dubbelman MA, PhD candidate at the Research Institute for History and Culture (OGC), has received the prestigious Fulbright scholarship for PhD fellows. He will spend three months at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop design guidelines for story-based computer games. Dutch designers of gaming companies have expressed a need for just that kind of knowledge.

Dubbelman’s PhD research is part of the national GATE-project (Game Research for Training and Entertainment), funded by the government to support the growing Dutch game industry. MIT has the right expertise to translate theoretical concepts into the practice of game design. With his research scholarship, Dubbelman hopes to build a bridge between scientific research and the practice of game development.

July 18, 2011

DNB Magazine focuses on the Dutch game industry

The recent issue of the magazine published by De Nederlandsche Bank (the Dutch central bank) focuses on the Dutch game industry. It shows how the 160 companies working on games in the Netherlands right now already have a healthy 150 milj. euro turnover. According to the article however, the industry needs to get more ambitious and competitive in order to grow. Working together as a sector through initiatives like the Dutch Game Garden, and using the knowledge from research projects like GATE, should push the Dutch game industry in the right direction.

The issue of DNB Magazine can be found here.

June 17, 2011

New: a minor in Game Studies









Starting in college year 2011-2012, we will be offering a full-fledged Minor in Game Studies. In this minor program, students will follow three compulsory courses, and a choice of one out of two noncompulsory courses, all of which can be found among the courses listed at our courses overview. Students who participate in this minor will meet the requirements to qualify for admission in the New Media & Digital Culture MA program.

The Minor in Game Studies is meant for students with a broad interest in play and games, with an emphasis on computer games. As such, the minor provides ample opportunity to investigate play and games from various perspectives, including art history, communication studies, literature studies and (new) media studies. The minor program offers an overview of different ways to study games as objects, but also games and play as cultural phenomena which have become an important part of popular culture.

More detailed information about the Minor in Game Studies can be found here (in Dutch).

June 10, 2011

WANTED: participants for Best Scene in Town @ PICNIC 2011


The New Media & Digital Culture MA in cooperation with the Center for the Study of Digital Games and Play are looking for enthusiastic Utrecht University students who are willing to represent the university in this year´s Best Scene in Town mobile design challenge @ PICNIC 2011!

From bestsceneintown.com:

"Best Scene in Town’ is a mobile design challenge that explores how we can interact with the city through our mobile phones. In ‘Best Scene in Town’ student teams enter a series of hands-on creative sessions to design, develop and ultimately pilot their mobile concepts for a live audience with the 7scenes platform."

Mixed student teams from China, U.S.A and The Netherlands explore the rules of how we can interact with locations and people using mobile phones. You do not have to have any technical knowledge to participate. Out-of-the-box thinking and collaboration skills is all that is required!

Please read the challenge page for more info on the how, what, and where of Best Scene in Town @ PICNIC 2011.

If you would like to participate, please let me know at r.glas @ uu.nl before june 17.

April 8, 2011

Debite - boxing ring debate








From the blog of René Glas:
Digital media platform SETUP is hosting a new edition of their Debite boxing ring debate evenings on games and game culture (a partnerprogram of the yearly industry event Festival of Games which takes place April 28 & 29).

I'll be debating with (or against) Dylan Nagel, co-founder of Paladin Studios, on ethical issues in and around social network site games. Other debaters will are GAP collegue David Nieborg, Festival of Games' Seth van der Meer and Control publisher Matthijs Dierckx. Keep an eye on Debite's Facebook page to hear what their debate topics will be. You can also register for the event there.

March 21, 2011

Level 5: Mob Fest - Mobile Gaming Festival @ Mediamatic











Mediamatic is hosting a three day festival about mobile gaming at the Mediamatic Bank (Vijzelstraat 69, Amsterdam), which is the closing event of their impressive Arcade exhibition. Day one and two are hosted by GAP member Michiel de Lange.

From the Mediamatic site:
March 23rd: Thinking Mobile

How can mobile games excel beyond the level of ‘play once and never use again’? In other words: what makes a good mobile game? We'll be speaking with Kars Alfrink of Hubbub, Richard Birkin (UK) of Mudlark, and NIMk artist in residence Duncan Speakman (UK).
March 24th: Doing Mobile
Games are an easy way of addressing complex issues and igniting people to get involved. How can mobile games contribute to a better future? What good can a mobile game do? Louise Down (UK) of Tate Modern, Karel Millenaar of FourceLabs and Emer Beamer of Butterfly Works will be joining us in discussing these questions.
March 25th: Ignite Amsterdam 7
Ignite is a fast-paced and merciless evening, full of fresh ideas and clever insights. Speakers get five minutes to present an idea or project. They make use of twenty slides that auto-advance every fifteen seconds. The seventh edition is all about mobile games. We'll be speaking to 15 game developers, journalists, artists and programmers.
(pic: Couple snapshot, 'Koppelkiek', a social photo game by Hubbub found on Hubbub)

March 7, 2011

Seminar: "Elements for an Insect Game Theory”










Jussi Parikka will discuss his latest book Insect Media. An Archaeology of Animals and Technology. In this book, Parikka uncovers the insect logic that informs contemporary media technologies and the network society.

More info about the seminar can be found on our events page.

Subsidy awarded to Mobile Learning project






The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and ICT Regie have awarded a subsidy to the Center for the Study of Digital Games and Play (GAP) for the research project Mobile Learning. The goal of this project is to improve and evaluate the learning results of mobile applications and games that are developed by 7scenes, such as the Games Atelier. The project runs from 2010 till 2012 and involves Utrecht University/GAP, 7scenes and Waag Society’s Creative Learning Lab as main partners.

More info about the Mobile Learning research project can be found here

March 3, 2011

Millions invested in Dutch Game Garden









The Utrecht-based foundation Dutch Game Garden has received 4 million Euro from the European Union and local, regional and national governments in the Netherlands.

From press release:
The contribution ensures Dutch Game Garden is able to continue its mission for the coming five years: to establish a better climate for new companies, create more job opportunities and more possibilities for innovation in the Dutch game industry. The more full-fledged companies and start-ups Dutch Game Garden is able to attract, the more companies may profit from a spirit of collaboration, resulting in strong economical impulses.
More info...

March 1, 2011

Expert Meetings: The Future of Serious Gaming

The STT Netherlands Study Centre for Technology Trends recently organised two expert meetings with The Future of Serious Games as main topic. The presentations of these expert meetings are now online at the STT website HERE. Below is one such presentation by GAP research member Michiel de Lange, which deals with mobile media technology, urban life and playful identities.




The Expert Meetings: The Future of Serious Games is a joined initiative by STT Netherlands Study Centre for Technology Trends and GATE Game Research for Training and Education (the latter of which GAP is also involved in).

February 28, 2011

Utrecht University opens Gamelab

We congratulate our colleagues in Game and Media Technology with the launch of their Gamelab, a joined venture of the Department of Computing Sciences, Utrecht University, and Microsoft Corporation.

From Microsoft's press release (in Dutch):

Op dinsdag 1 maart opent Universiteit Utrecht officieel het Gamelab: een plek waar nieuwe games met behulp van geavanceerde technologieën ontwikkeld worden. Dit initiatief werd mogelijk door de samenwerking van Microsoft met het departement Informatica van de Universiteit Utrecht.


In september startte Universiteit Utrecht met de nieuwe studierichting Gametechnologie, speciaal gericht op de technologische achtergronden van games. Om studenten en docenten optimaal te faciliteren werd de samenwerking gezocht met Microsoft, dat de nieuwste hard- en software beschikbaar stelt. “Zo openen we 1 maart het Gamelab, door studenten al snel omgedoopt tot Gamehol, een plek voor de ontwikkeling van nieuwe games en het experimenteren met nieuwe technologieën”, aldus Maarten-Jan Vermeulen, Academic Lead bij Microsoft.


Het Gamelab werd direct na de officieuze opening intensief gebruikt door de studenten om games te ontwikkelen voor de PC en Xbox 360. Adriaan Jansen, voorzitter van studenten game development club DGDARC is enthousiast: “Het Gamelab is een perfecte werkomgeving voor studenten die serieus aan de slag willen met game development."

February 24, 2011

Playing (with) Infographics

From the blog of René Glas:

I will present at the upcoming Infographics conference (March 4, 2011, see HERE for more info). I will be talking about infographics in games, with a focus on different ways information about the state of a game (for example, a charactar's health) can be communicated to players through infographics within the game's fictional world.

Here's a nice video promotion of the conference:

February 21, 2011

Ludotopia II, 24-25 February








Teun Dubbelman will present at the Ludotopia II Conference, The University of Salford, Greater Manchester. This conference on the spatial aspects of computer games is organised by Mathias Fuchs, Espen Aarseth and Stephan Guenzel.

From the conference website:
"LUDOTOPIA" is the key term and programmatic notion for spatial aspects of computergames. The questions we are interested in range from cartography in games, pervasiveness of game spaces, narrative and spatiality, theories of space as applicable to videogames, space as threat, and analyses of videogame space in terms of traditional conceptions of topology.
Scholars from Game Studies, Philosophy, Media Studies, Cultural Studies and related fields handed in proposals for the Ludotopia I held in Copenhagen in May 2010. Ludotopia II built upon the findings and emerging questions raised at Ludotopia I and tries to critically review and revise the body of research accumulated at an earlier stage.
More info...

February 13, 2011

Bastard Culture! now available.

From the blog of Mirko Tobias Schäfer:

"Profound and meticulously researched work, which has expanded my worldview."
Howard Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs. The Next Social Revolution
"Invited or not, the brilliant and not-so-brilliant members of our digital culture are actively participating. We're not just using but changing, repurposing, and re-inventing the technologies set before us. Bastard or not, the reality we are creating together is an odd and often unconscious collaboration between people, corporations, and technology itself. Schaefer has patiently, deliberately, and quite engagingly exposed this hidden landscape of cultural production, and shown us what we might do to direct it toward positive, even evolutionary ends."
Douglas Rushkoff, author of Program or Be Programmed. Ten Commands for a Digital Age
From the back-cover:
New online technologies have brought with them a great promise of freedom. The computer and particularly the Internet have been represented as enabling technologies, turning consumers into users and users into producers. Furthermore, lay people and amateurs have been enthusiastically greeted as heroes of the digital era. This thoughtful study casts a fresh light on the shaping of user participation in the context of, among others, popular discourse in and around new media.
Schäfer’s research into hacking, fan communities and Web 2.0 applications demonstrates how the dynamic of innovation, control and interaction have shifted the boundaries of the traditional culture industry into the user domain. The media industry undergoes a shift from creating content to providing platforms for user driven social interactions and user‐generated content. In this extended culture industry, participation unfolds not only in the co‐creation of media content and software‐based products, but also in the development and defense of distinctive media practices.
Order the book at AUP
Download the pdf version.