Guest Lecture:
Prof. Dr. Steffen Walz
‘As If: That Tricky (But Hopefully Rewarding) Relationship Between Games & The Digital Landscape’

For the current summer term the Cologne Game Lab again put together an exciting selection of guest lecturers for students and the interested public alike. Always on Wednesdays, we’ll give the floor to an outstanding personality to share some of their unique expertise.

On Wednesday, June 06, Prof. Dr. Steffen Walz, Managing Director at gerenwa, curator of bizplay, Adjunct Professor at Swinburne University of Technology‘s Centre for Design Innovation in Melbourne as well as Adjunct Lecturer at the University of St Gallen’s Executive School of Management, Technology and Law in Switzerland, will lecture on the tricky relationship between games and the digital landscape.

© Sandra Jacques

Photo: © Sandra Jacques


Abstract:

Artificial intelligence, automation, blockchain, mixed reality, persuasive technologies such as Netflix’s AutoPlay functionality, and computers that „weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it” (Weiser 1991): We are living in an unprecedented age of transformative and accelerated change with „possibilities for good and evil“ (Wiener 1948); and games and game elements sit smack-in-the-middle in this digital landscape, for various reasons – not only do they serve as (techno-)utopian as well as dystopian content mediators of these developments, but historically, games have undergone a co-evolution with digital technologies – for example, games have assisted in envisioning the computer (Pias 2002); their’ “definiteness in the rules” (Juul 2005) suggests that there is a basic affinity between games and computers; one argument even has it that “all games are digital. Without exception. (…) From the start, games were proto-computers” (Wark 2007:79); and researchers and technologists alike have been employing games and game elements to try out and to showcase their inventions.

So if computers and the digital landscape is everywhere, then games, and game-like systems and elements, are to be everywhere as well. This deduction creates major challenges as well as potentials. In his talk, Steffen will reflect on some of these, and will provide design examples including his own latest gameful works, to spark a conversation on that tricky relationship between games & the digital landscape.


About Prof. Dr. Steffen Walz:

Steffen-Walz-550x300

Steffen P. Walz is a Managing Director of gerenwa GmbH, Karlsruhe (DE), a digital innovation consultancy and IP incubator at the intersections of gamification & serious game design, cutting edge computing, and health & wellbeing topics. gerenwa’s clients include e.g. Daimler, BMW, Porsche, Fresenius, Deloitte Center for the Edge, Sportsbet, the Australian Trade and Investment Commission and Melbourne International Games Week.

Steffen is the curator of bizplay, Germany’s leading gamification congress, and an Adjunct Professor at Swinburne University of Technology’s Centre for Design Innovation in Melbourne; he also serves as an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of St Gallen’s Executive School of Management, Technology and Law in Switzerland, where he teaches seminars using playful foresight as well as gameful thinking & making. In the olden days, he directed the Games & Experimental Entertainment Laboratory, the GEElab, a research environment co-located at RMIT University in Melbourne and, as the GEElab Europe, in Karlsruhe (DE), see geelab.eu.

Steffen is co-editor of The Gameful World (MIT Press 2015), a seminal book about the interpenetation of games and everyday life; he earned his doctoral degree in Computer Aided Architectural Design from the ETH Zurich (CH) and his MA in Cultural Anthropology, Political Science and General Rhetoric from the University of Tübingen (DE).