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New: a minor in Game Studies

Starting in college year 2011-2012, we will be offering a full-fledged Minor in Game Studies. In this minor program, students will follow three compulsory courses, and a choice of one out of two noncompulsory courses, all of which can be found among the courses listed at our courses overview. Students who participate in this minor will meet the requirements to qualify for admission in the New Media & Digital Culture MA program.

The Minor in Game Studies is meant for students with a broad interest in play and games, with an emphasis on computer games. As such, the minor provides ample opportunity to investigate play and games from various perspectives, including art history, communication studies, literature studies and (new) media studies. The minor program offers an overview of different ways to study games as objects, but also games and play as cultural phenomena which have become an important part of popular culture.


WANTED: participants for Best Scene in Town @ PICNIC 2011

The New Media & Digital Culture MA in cooperation with the Center for the Study of Digital Games and Play are looking for enthusiastic Utrecht University students who are willing to represent the university in this year´s Best Scene in Town mobile design challenge @ PICNIC 2011


“Best Scene in Town’ is a mobile design challenge that explores how we can interact with the city through our mobile phones. In ‘Best Scene in Town’ student teams enter a series of hands-on creative sessions to design, develop and ultimately pilot their mobile concepts for a live audience with the 7scenes platform.”

Mixed student teams from China, U.S.A and The Netherlands explore the rules of how we can interact with locations and people using mobile phones. You do not have to have any technical knowledge to participate. Out-of-the-box thinking and collaboration skills is all that is required!

If you would like to participate, please let me know at r.glas @ before june 17

Debite – boxing ring debate


From the blog of René Glas:
Digital media platform SETUP is hosting a new edition of their Debite boxing ring debate evenings on games and game culture (a partnerprogram of the yearly industry event Festival of Games which takes place April 28 & 29).
I’ll be debating with (or against) Dylan Nagel, co-founder of Paladin Studios, on ethical issues in and around social network site games. Other debaters will are David Nieborg, Festival of Games’ Seth van der Meer and Control publisher Matthijs Dierckx. Keep an eye on Debite’s Facebook page to hear what their debate topics will be. You can also register for the event there.

Subsidy awarded to Mobile Learning project

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and ICT Regie have awarded a subsidy to the Center for the Study of Digital Games and Play (GAP) for the research project Mobile Learning. The goal of this project is to improve and evaluate the learning results of mobile applications and games that are developed by 7scenes, such as the Games Atelier. The project runs from 2010 till 2012 and involves Utrecht University/GAP, 7scenes and Waag Society’s Creative Learning Lab as main partners.

More info about the Mobile Learning research project can be found here.

Millions invested in Dutch Game Garden

The Utrecht-based foundation Dutch Game Garden has received 4 million Euro from the European Union and local, regional and national governments in the Netherlands.

From press release:

The contribution ensures Dutch Game Garden is able to continue its mission for the coming five years: to establish a better climate for new companies, create more job opportunities and more possibilities for innovation in the Dutch game industry. The more full-fledged companies and start-ups Dutch Game Garden is able to attract, the more companies may profit from a spirit of collaboration, resulting in strong economical impulses.


Utrecht University opens Gamelab

We congratulate our colleagues in Game and Media Technology with the launch of their Gamelab, a joined venture of the Department of Computing Sciences, Utrecht University, and Microsoft Corporation.

From Microsoft’s press release (in Dutch):

Op dinsdag 1 maart opent Universiteit Utrecht officieel het Gamelab: een plek waar nieuwe games met behulp van geavanceerde technologieën ontwikkeld worden. Dit initiatief werd mogelijk door de samenwerking van Microsoft met het departement Informatica van de Universiteit Utrecht.

In september startte Universiteit Utrecht met de nieuwe studierichting Gametechnologie, speciaal gericht op de technologische achtergronden van games. Om studenten en docenten optimaal te faciliteren werd de samenwerking gezocht met Microsoft, dat de nieuwste hard- en software beschikbaar stelt. “Zo openen we 1 maart het Gamelab, door studenten al snel omgedoopt tot Gamehol, een plek voor de ontwikkeling van nieuwe games en het experimenteren met nieuwe technologieën”, aldus Maarten-Jan Vermeulen, Academic Lead bij Microsoft.

Het Gamelab werd direct na de officieuze opening intensief gebruikt door de studenten om games te ontwikkelen voor de PC en Xbox 360. Adriaan Jansen, voorzitter van studenten game development club DGDARC is enthousiast: “Het Gamelab is een perfecte werkomgeving voor studenten die serieus aan de slag willen met game development.”

Playing (with) Infographics

From the blog of René Glas:

I will present at the upcoming Infographics conference (March 4, 2011). I will be talking about infographics in games, with a focus on different ways information about the state of a game (for example, a charactar’s health) can be communicated to players through infographics within the game’s fictional world.

Here’s a nice video promotion of the conference:


Ludotopia II, 24-25 February

Teun Dubbelman will present at the Ludotopia II Conference, The University of Salford, Greater Manchester. This conference on the spatial aspects of computer games is organised by Mathias Fuchs, Espen Aarseth and Stephan Guenzel.

From the conference website:

“LUDOTOPIA” is the key term and programmatic notion for spatial aspects of computergames. The questions we are interested in range from cartography in games, pervasiveness of game spaces, narrative and spatiality, theories of space as applicable to videogames, space as threat, and analyses of videogame space in terms of traditional conceptions of topology.

Scholars from Game Studies, Philosophy, Media Studies, Cultural Studies and related fields handed in proposals for the Ludotopia I held in Copenhagen in May 2010. Ludotopia II built upon the findings and emerging questions raised at Ludotopia I and tries to critically review and revise the body of research accumulated at an earlier stage. More info…

Bastard Culture! now available.

From the blog of Mirko Tobias Schäfer:

“Profound and meticulously researched work, which has expanded my worldview.”Howard Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs. The Next Social Revolution

“Invited or not, the brilliant and not-so-brilliant members of our digital culture are actively participating. We’re not just using but changing, repurposing, and re-inventing the technologies set before us. Bastard or not, the reality we are creating together is an odd and often unconscious collaboration between people, corporations, and technology itself. Schaefer has patiently, deliberately, and quite engagingly exposed this hidden landscape of cultural production, and shown us what we might do to direct it toward positive, even evolutionary ends.”
Douglas Rushkoff, author of Program or Be Programmed. Ten Commands for a Digital Age

From the back-cover:

New online technologies have brought with them a great promise of freedom. The computer and particularly the Internet have been represented as enabling technologies, turning consumers into users and users into producers. Furthermore, lay people and amateurs have been enthusiastically greeted as heroes of the digital era. This thoughtful study casts a fresh light on the shaping of user participation in the context of, among others, popular discourse in and around new media.
Schäfer’s research into hacking, fan communities and Web 2.0 applications demonstrates how the dynamic of innovation, control and interaction have shifted the boundaries of the traditional culture industry into the user domain. The media industry undergoes a shift from creating content to providing platforms for user driven social interactions and user‐generated content. In this extended culture industry, participation unfolds not only in the co‐creation of media content and software‐based products, but also in the development and defense of distinctive media practices.

Order the book at AUP
Download the pdf version.