quarta-feira, 2 de outubro de 2013

F.R.O.G (Future and Reality of Gaming) Congress - Vienna, September 2013

Last week I was at Vienna (Austria) presenting a poster at the F.R.O.G (Future and Reality of Gaming) congress. Awesome keynotes and fantastic content in three days full of games in this beautiful city.

Vienna’s annual Games Conference offers an open and international platform for leading game studies researchers and scholars, game designers, researchers and scholars from various other fields, education professionals, and gamers from around the world. The main objective of FROG13 was to explore the “Context Matters” in regard to questions of player communities, challenging or problematic play settings, game theory and development, impact of games and cultural facets of play.

And now I would like to share the content that I presented at the congress. I hope you enjoy.

ECOLOGICAL CONCEPTS IN A BOARD GAME: How to discuss serious causes using ludic interfaces

Author: MsC. Vicente Martin Mastrocola (ESPM/Brazil)
E-mail: vincevader@gmail.com


In this presentation we seek to analyze the use of game mechanics for serious causes. We discuss, using a brazilian board game named Climate Game, how we can use a playful and ludic interface to cast a message for a serious cause and how a game could work with ideas about global warming in a fun/educational way. In this context, we use the idea of magic circle proposed by Johan Huizinga, author of the book Homo Ludens, in which the author explains how a physical space could be a place for playing, meaning and experience.

In this presentation we also discuss the impact of a ludic interface in the mediatic scenario, the gaming culture and how important it can be for the contemporary world.



Homo Ludens, entertainment and games

First of all, the notion of homo ludens, introduced by the dutch historian Johan Huizinga, is the conceptual backbone for this work, where we seek to analyze the use of game mechanics, ludic concepts, and game thinking applied to a brazilian board game with ecological theme named Climate Game. This game uses a playful and ludic interface to cast a message for a serious cause, and works with ideas about global warming in a fun/educational way.

In his book "Homo Ludens" (1955) Huizinga discusses the possibility that playing is the primary formative element in human culture. The author also presents the idea of the magic circle, one important subject for our discussion.

As described by Adams and Rollings (2009, p.8), Huizinga did not use the term as a generic name for the concept: his text refers to the actual playground, or a physical space for playing, meaning and experience. As the authors says, inside the magic circle, real-world events have special meanings. In the real world you kick a ball into a net but in the magic circle you score a goal.

Huizinga (1955, page 10) wrote that the arena, the card-table, the stage, the screen, etc, are all function playgrounds. They are all temporary worlds within the ordinary world, dedicated to the performance of an act apart.

As Ehrmann says (1968, p.55) in an antropology of play, the latest cannot be defined by isolating it on the basis of its relationship to an a priori reality and culture. To define play is, at the same time and in the same movement, to define reality and culture.

The Climate Game

The Climate Game is a production from a brazilian company named Games For Business that works in the area of serious games, that, following the thoughts of Nick Iuppa and Terry Borst (2007), may be explained as games with a professional, educational or pedagogical use. Climate Game is a game that challenges its players to save the world from global warming. This game is both of competition and cooperation. It promotes competition because the player who emits no carbonic gas at all wins. But the integrated work of all the other participants is essential in order not to exceed the gas limits of the greenhouse effect.

Therefore, participants have lots of puzzles to solve together and, as Juul says (2005, p.8) games are usually well-structured problems, and this has led them to be used in several other fields.

This kind of game will not transform a player into a specialist in ecology or in global warming, but it can reinforce important concepts about the planet’s health. This game can teach basic ideas and stimulate the players to search for more information about the theme.

By this brief overview we can conclude that game mechanics can be a meaningful space for significative experiences. It seems that these ideas are essential to study and understand the gaming universe and the impacts of the game culture in the contemporary world.



ADAMS, Ernest; ROLLINGS, Andrew. Fundamentals of Game Design. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009

EHRMANN, Jacques. Homo Ludens Revisited. Yale French Studies, No 41. Game, Play, Literature (1968). pp. 31-57. (click here for download)

HUIZINGA, Johan. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture. Boston: The Beacon Press, 1955.

IUPPA, Nick & BORST, Terry. Story and simulations for serious games: tales from the trenches. Burlington: Focal Press, 2007.

JUUL, Jesper. Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds. USA: MIT Press, 2005.

Climate Game english site >> click here.

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