Two weeks ago I attended a rather uncommon conference. It was uncommon, firstly because of its topic – gaming and gamification still are the exception in Germany’s cultural institutions -, and secondly because of its format. The conference was held at the guest house of the Bundesakademie für kulturelle Bildung at Wolfenbüttel, and this is where we were in session, where we ate, where we slept and where we played. Almost all of us, together almost all the time.
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I have to admit, this concept made me a little anxious beforehand. How was a person supposed to find some calm and quiet? Looking back I can say that I didn’t feel the need to retreat. The atmosphere was relaxed, conversation flowed easily and people were curious about each other’s experiences.
This was probably due to the fact that we didn’t get bored: the talks given by speakers from Germany, South Korea, China and the United States covered various aspects and invited listeners to think ahead. Now let me break the bad news first: Writing about all the talks would be too much for this little article. The good news is that all talks were recorded, and the videos are going to be put up on the internet. I’ll add the link when this has happened. Today you can already read the conclusion drawn by Christoph Deeg who initiated the conference (although it only exists in German).
What I still need to do now is highlight a few lectures that I found particularly important. The international speakers talked about approaches that haven’t yet been made in Germany. Peter Lee from Seoul told us about alternate reality games, especially „Being Faust – Enter Mephisto“ which he created. It transforms the library into the book which you can consequently explore „from within“. Thanks to YouTube you can see for yourself:
This game is not a computer game. Eli Neiburger skirts the borders with some of the gaming-related activities of the Ann Arbor District Library: They focus on giving library users a unique experience. They are supposed to play, but not in the way they could do it on their consoles at home. Instead the library stages tournaments or does things like recreating a parcours from „Angry Birds“ in the gym. I’m particularly impressed by how clearly Eli sees and phrases things. I attended one of his speeches before, and back then just like today I appreciated his enthusiasm for gaming, especially gaming in the library and his belief in the link between gaming and learning.
Douglas Wang from Shanghai prepared his lecture in a very interesting way: He started by distributing incense stick all over the place. They were made from ancient roots, and he imported them from China especially for us. He wanted us to experience the smell of „ancient China“. Wangs mission is to reconnect the chinese people to their cultural roots. In order to achieve this goal he employs simulations, gaming strategies, but also elements that directly activate the senses.
Now, those were my highlights for today. If you’d like to know more, feel free to comment and ask me a question. I’m quite sure I haven’t finished writing about this conference yet…