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Clash of Realities 2014

The “Clash of Realities” conference 2014 took place in the premises of the Cologne Game Lab of the Cologne University of Applied Sciences. In these creative rooms, lectures and workshops dealt with topics of current game research, such as differentiating between different types of players, communicating social values ​​through games or using games as an educational tool.

The conference is organized in cooperation with the Cologne University of Applied Sciences, the game publisher Electronic Arts, the Digital “Game Culture” Foundation, the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW and the Cologne Game Lab.

By Alexander Hundenborn and Dominik Kelecic

One focus of the conference was on gamification / ludification and serious games. The opening lecture by Graeme Kirkpatrick from Manchester began with a philosophical discussion of the terms ludification and ludefaction. These two terms represent the positive and negative sides of gamification. The inclusion of game elements in non-game contexts can have a positive as well as a negative effect. Ludification means the positive influence of learning and the imparting of skills through game elements, if these are built into the non-game context in a meaningful way in context and mechanics. Ludefaction means the unnecessary integration of game elements. According to Kirkpatrick, this can lead to creativity and self-determination being replaced by routine and repetition.

Monik Griefhahn from the “Digitale Spielekultur” foundation, Till Hardy from the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW and Christoph Seeßelberg, President of the Cologne University of Applied Sciences, underlined the importance of video games as a cultural asset in their opening speeches. They emphasized that they have reached the breadth of society. With the spread of smartphones, games are becoming omnipresent and independent of location. Griefhahn highlighted Germany's pioneering role and emphasized that video games not only convey violent content, but can also highlight emotional and educational topics. For these reasons, the institution of the German Computer Game Award is a sign of the social status in Germany. Till Hardy coined his speech with the sentence "NRW is games, and games are NRW". He highlighted the local importance of the video game scene in North Rhine-Westphalia. Big and small game developers are based in Cologne and Düsseldorf, and many educational institutions have focused their work on video games. Gamescom, as Europe's largest video game fair in Cologne, reflects this local importance accordingly. Fran Blumberg from New York rounded off the opening evening with the presentation of her study on “Children and Young People - Learning in the Context of Relaxing Video Games”. The core result of this study contrasted the development that younger adolescents experience a positive influence from a higher number of rules when playing, while older adolescents receive this positive influence from cognitive insight into the game mechanics.

On the second day of the Clash of Realities, the various workshops and lectures took place under the three main focuses “Game Design”, “Game Research & Game Culture” and “Media Education”. In the first line, the results of the "Newsgame Hackathon", which took place the day before in Cologne, were presented. In the second strand, various types of players and studies on this topic were presented. The quintessence of these studies proves once again that there is no longer a typical gamer. They dispelled the prejudice that gamers are "loners crouching in the basement". Gamers come in every age group and even the number of so-called "silver gamers" is increasing more and more. It also became apparent that the popularity of the game genres cannot be predicted from the sales figures. Shooters only ended up in fourth place in the study after strategy and role-playing games and simulations.

Another focus was the area of ​​serious games and gamification. The Finn Santeri Koivisto presented his work on the topic of how video games can motivate students. In terms of content, he went into what motivates students to learn and what content and mechanics games must contain in order to enable use in educational topics. For him, the relevance of the teacher and the content that should be connected with the game were important. With these points, success or failure depends on the use of the games in the classroom.

In the “Media Education” section, Martin Hügel presented the WoWiW (WoW im Wald) concept. This is a mixture of (online) role play elements and methods from experiential education. The aim is to use the structural knowledge of children and young people about role-playing games and their game elements in order to make certain outdoor activities interesting for young people who are also interested in computer games.

Alexander Pfeiffer presented his projects on game based learning and showed the participants various possible uses of games and learning environments. An example of this was E.M.I.L. Here, children with traumatic memory loss were introduced to improving their ability to remember in a playful way. In his lecture he also pointed out that the use of games works best when the goals that emerge in the educational context are set by the young people themselves, if possible, or when the tasks can be carried out in a motivated manner.

The afternoon program was characterized by the presentation of various practical projects and initiatives on the subject of video games. A lot of impulses could be created and trends recognized.

The conclusion was the presentation by Britta Neitzel on the subject of "Location Based Games". She presented the development of various apps, starting with Mr. X, a GPS scavenger hunt in cooperation with Telekom, to Ingress, the location-based competition between two parties for areas. It led back to the lectures by Monika Griefhahn, Till Hardy and Christoph Seeßelberg and supported their thesis that games are omnipresent with examples. Finally, Winfred Kaminski thanked all speakers for the fruitful contributions and ended the 2014 Clash of Realities.