A landmark conference was hosted in Dundee this year which saw the two research groups, DiGRA and FDG, come together to sharer research and practice in the field of games. At the 1st Joint International Conference of DiGRA and FDG (2016), I was fortunate enough to discuss Project:Filter in a session titled "Playing Popular Science", organised by Dr Robin Sloan of Abertay University. I thought it would be a good idea to upload my presentation from the conference for those who may still have been interested but decided to attend a different session, or even for those who may not have attended the event.
The presentation can be seen below, but I also want to give a special mention to the four student teams from Abertay University that also presented their games. I was very impressed by the level of work that they have delivered and how they have shown the potential that games have in non-traditional areas.
Quantessential Games have worked with Dr Erik Gauger of Herriot-Watt University on the idea of quantum mechanics. Their prototype, Orbs, makes sense of a very complex (and theoretical) subject in a puzzle-platforming format. Players must manipulate the environment to change the state of two orbs, which can then be used to solve puzzles. Fire and ice, and static and non-static contrasts were shown as required states to complete certain puzzles. Watching the prototype play out, I was reminded of Portal's puzzling mixed with the comical narrative tone seen in Firewatch. I hope Quantessential Games continue their development on Orbs as they mentioned.
Benthos Games presented Tides: A Shark's Tale, in partnership with the Scottish Crucible. The students worked alongside Dr Helen Dooley, an immunologist and self-professed shark-lover from Aberdeen University. This game has players controlling a cat shark through polluted waters, and becoming emotionally attached to other sharks that have become distressed by their changing environment. It shares many similarities with Polluted, particularly its 2D-adventure and narrative-driven elements, which had me pondering standardisation of practice for serious games, and whether this is possible.
Crowbar Games created Namaka, a delightful 2D-adventure game along a similar style to Tides. They addressed the issues of microplastic pollution through a series of mini-games plotted around the environment, and subtle aesthetical evolutions during the play session. Crowbar Games worked alongside Microsoft, which also saw their involvement within this year's Imagine Cup competition. Not only has Namaka been a success for the student team, but they have also been competing in this year's Dare to be Digital competition. It's nice to see teams sticking together to continue on new projects, and I wish them all the best with their participation in Dare!
Finally, we have Cell Cycle from Type 3 Games, in collaboration with Dr Adrian Saurin of Dundee University. This hex-grid strategy game sheds light on cell divisions, with just the right level of subtle context surrounding cancerous cells. Out of all the games presented (Project:Filter included), Cell Cycle looked the game most-ready to be released for the market. It looked simple, clean, and has a responsive strategy system embedded.
Having gone through the same process as an undergraduate, and knowing the level of dedication and work required for the coursework, I tip my hat off to everyone. The students from Abertay University have highlighted more potential in using games to address social and scientific enquiries, and I look forward to seeing these projects come forward.
My presentation from this session, with commentary, can be viewed below. Please do get in contact if you have questions / comments / suggestions / feedback!