On behalf of the conference co-chairs, we wish to provide a report of the eight GameDays, which have been held from September 18th to 20th at Technische Universität Darmstadt and in the premises of Fraunhofer IGD.
The GameDays are initiated and mainly organized by Dr. Stefan Göbel, the head of the Serious Games group at the Multimedia Communications Lab at TU Darmstadt. The GameDays take place as a “Science meets Business” event in the field of Serious Games on an annual basis since 2005 in cooperation with Hessen-IT, the Forum for Interdisciplinary Research of TU Darmstadt and other partners from science and industry.
Like in 2010 and 2011, the GameDays 2012 were held both as an academic International Conference and as a “Science meets Business” congress. This year, the conference was held in conjunction with Edutainment 2012, the seventh International Conference on E-Learning and Games. The Edutainment origins from China and has been hold at different countries in Asia so far, this year for the first time in Europe.
On the academic side, 39 papers originated from 18 countries all over the world, among others Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United States, as well as Germany and different European countries have been committed to the joint conference of which 21 have been accepted for scientific publication in the Springer LNCS conference proceedings. The acceptance rate has been 50% for full papers. All papers have been reviewed by at least four international reviewers.
The papers have been presented in four tracks focusing on
- Game-based training and learning
- Emergent learning and gaming technologies
- Authoring tools and mechanisms
- Serious Games for health
Keynotes were held by Noah Wardrip-Fruin from the University of Southern California, Santa Cruz, Wolfgang Müller-Wittig from Fraunhofer IDM, Singapore, Henrik Hautop Lund from the Center for Playware, Technical University of Denmark, and Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller from the RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.
In his talk, Noah Wardrip-Fruin pointed out the importance of multidisciplinarity in computer games design (and game research as well) and the limits to handcrafting in computer games (e.g. level design, story, or animations) limiting the level of interactivity. He identified two important challenges to address multidisciplinarity: Authoring and generativity. He further presented several projects for an easy game creation, like Mame-o-Matic, a tool in which users define the game logic via graphs, or Ludocore, an authoring approach for generation of rules, not levels.
Wolfgang Müller-Wittig expressed the necessity to not just hear or see, but to experience through interactive visual real-time systems. He provided an interesting insight in various exhibits of Fraunhofer Singapore, among which were augmented world technologies for the classroom or museums and science centers.
Henrik Hautop Lund presented ‘Playware’, a modular hardware and software system consisting of interactive tiles which can be freely arranged on the floor or at a wall, connected to at least one other tile, thus creating a playground for various games. Players can step on the colorfully illuminated tiles in order to jump a certain pattern, as a reaction game, or as a contest with another player. He showed that the system could be successfully used both for training of youth and elderly people with significant effects.
Floyd Mueller presented several innovative Serious Game ideas from his lab, all of them focusing the body. He presented a quadrocopter as a robot companion for joggers, or a bike helmet with a rear display showing the pulse rate only to the one driving behind the biker. One of his main statements were that Serious Games should not compare to traditional learning/working medias like e.g. school books but rather show that they can offer new ways of learning/training as alternatives and supplement.
All of these keynotes provided an interesting and promising multi-perspective view on the future uses of Serious Games technology in the fields of training, education, health and sports. However, they also pointed out the necessity of interdisciplinary future research in these fields.
In addition to the scientific talks, an exhibition area with more than 20 demos and prototypes provided insight into a variety of Serious Games from the fields of learning, training, sports & health. Among those BalanceFit, a game for training of balance for fall prevention of elderly people which is currently in evaluation in several hospitals in Darmstadt or KTexFlex, a collection of games for preservation of physical and mental fitness using a Whiteboard touchscreen in combination with a Microsoft Kinect. With StoryTec, an authoring tool for Serious Games designed for non-programmers has been shown. PEDALE provides a learning environment for peer assessment of creative tasks using StoryTec as authoring environment. 3D Multiplayer Serious Games like Woodment or Escape From Wilson Island represent examples for game-based training in collaborative learning scenarios. Furthermore, among many others, a Serious Game about architecture was exhibited as well as SHORE, a software for recognition of facial expression for interaction- and game design.
On the Science meets Business day, the importance of Serious Gaming in the State of Hesse was pointed out by Christian Flory of Hessen IT and Andreas Gelhard from the “Forum of interdisciplinary research” at TU Darmstadt.
As a highlight, a panel discussion entitled „Use of Serious Games for prevention and rehabilitation“ was held. Experts like Dr. Jürgen Richter, chairman of the AWO (public welfare organization) in the state of Hesse, representatives of three medical centers in Darmstadt (S. Becker, Darmstädter Kinderkliniken Prinzessin Margaret; M. H.-D. Pfisterer, Agaplesion Elisabethenstift Ev. Krankenhaus und M. Held, Klinikum Darmstadt, Alten- und Pflegeheim Emilstraße), Ruth Lemmen from the Bundesverband für Unterhaltungssoftware, and Prof. Wiemeyer from the Technische Universität Darmstadt discussed the topic and emphasized the potential of Serious Games for health applications as playful instrument for therapy, rehabilitation and prevention. Also, the necessity for comprehensive, scientific sound evaluation studies has been pointed out. That kind of validated ‘proof-of-concept’ showcases might provide the entry point to the prospering healthcare market.
In summary, the GameDays 2012 – held in conjunction with the Edutainment 2012 – brought together scientists and practitioners in the multidisciplinary environment of Serious Games and edutainment applications. Key challenges have been addressed which build the ground for further research and the establishment of best practice showcases for the use of Serious Games in education, training or sports and health.
Further information about the GameDays 2012 and Edutainment 2012, its program, exhibits, visual impressions, etc. is available at www.gamedays2012.de.
The Edutainment 2013 will take place at September 30th to October 3rd in Sydney, Australia.
The GameDays 2013 will take place at TU Darmstadt at March 22nd-23rd (Friday, Saturday) as a “Science meets Business“ event with an invited academic panel, workshops and an “Open Door Day” for the public. The exhibition will be enhanced by a Serious Games Team Challenge. In 2014, the GameDays will be held as Int’l Conference on Serious Games again.