Brisbane: For the very first time in Australia, Griffith Film School and Griffith Centre for Creative Arts Research play host to the INTERNATIONAL JOINT CONFERENCE ON SERIOUS GAMES with seriously amazing international keynote speakers, workshops, exhibition and panel discussions to showcase the most recent developments in the Serious Games universe. The two-day conference held at The Edge (State Library of Queensland), will be opened by Professor Paul Mazerolle, Pro Vice Chancellor Arts, Education and Law, Griffith University, and will focus on pushing the boundaries of gaming, and exploring the creative interplay between filmmaking and game design.

Fast emerging areas in Serious Games are games for relaxation where the purpose is to slow down and provide a calming experience, games for reflection that open up opportunities for contemplation, and games that can deliver an emotional experience in much the same way that literature, theatre and cinema have always done.

Conference Chair and Lecturer in Games Design at Griffith Film School, Dr Tim Marsh said “The thrust of Serious Games development is to provide deeper experience and emotions. As well as to educate, Serious Games have the potential to alter behaviour, raise awareness, and effect real change. The technological and artistic innovation in serious games and gamification is creating new ways to play, interact and experience. Essentially, they are games with purpose.”

“Serious Games encompass a broad spectrum of experiences – from a game which allows you to experience daily life for a refugee displaced by militia in wartorn Dafur, which includes the ability to take real-life positive action (Dafur is Dying)*, to a VR headset experience which, combined with a stationary bicycle could reduce the risk of developing dementia (VR Rides), to a tablet game to provide a female orgasm experience (La Petite Mort).”

An exhibition, Art with Purpose, during the conference at Griffith Film School will showcase nine new and exciting works including VR Rides and La Petite Mort.

Head of Griffith Film School, Herman van Eyken said “We are a very exciting time where the cinematic arts and games development are converging. Both narrative and interactive storytelling are cross-fertilising each other and inspiring new possibilities. Game development and filmmaking are very closely aligned and the digital artists who develop games are increasingly using the narrative storytelling devices that are the hallmark of cinema, and vice versa. Serious Games are at the pinnacle of all game development because they have the possibility to create change, they have purpose. The developments in Serious Games show they are moving into ever new realms, while simultaneously influencing their cinematic counterparts. We are all very proud to bring Australia’s first major international Serious Games conference to Griffith Film School, Griffith University, Brisbane.”

The development of Serious Games is a creative pursuit typically involving design, science, technology and art. As such, the International Joint Conference on Serious Games aims to bring together researchers, developers, practitioners, designers, writers, artists and consumers of serious games. Registration is now open.

Keynote speakers:
· World-leader in Serious Games, experimental game designer, associate professor and director of the University of Southern California’s Games Program, Tracy Fullerton, whose Keynote presentation Slow Play: Imagining the Serious Worlds of Walden and The Night Journey will address the pace of play in digital games and the potential for time for emotional reflection, deliberation or interpretation of game events in order to create games that respectfully address more serious subject matters.

· Former Director of Research at the Serious Games Institute, UK and current Pro Vice Chancellor and Professor of Learning and Teaching at Murdoch University, Perth, Sara de Freitas. Her Keynote presentation The Efficacy of Gamification: Motivation, Flow and Feedback considers how gamification can engage and re-engage students who are not being well retained with the current teaching pedagogy.

Invited speakers :
· Head of the Games Department at the UK’s National Film and Television School Jon Weinbren’s presentation Games with Meaning and Consequence explores techniques and tools that can facilitate the development of meaningful games experiences, and how as educationalists we can best develop and nurture the future creative talent for the design and development of meaningful games experiences for increasingly diverse audiences.

· Acclaimed academic and specialist in mental health within games from The Netherlands, Ben Schouten presents Playful Empowerment, the role of game design innovation in participatory citizenship which focuses on a changing perspective on design, one in which users are defined as social and economical actors who co-create products and services. We will see that the role of play in its contemporary and digital form for instance through games, apps, interactive toys is essential in this process.

Sessions scheduled include workshops and information sessions, and the two-day conference culminates in an interactive exhibition showcasing recent developments in Serious Games.

Exhibition Art with Purpose includes:

La Petite Mort from Loveable Hat Cult’s Patrick Jarnfelt and Andrea Hasselager
An experimental non-explicit digital erotic experience designed for touch. It focuses on female pleasure and encourages the player to go slow and take their time. As much as giving a more nuanced picture of female pleasure and stimulation, La Petite Mort is also a statement of a different way of interacting with and using the tablet. La Petite Mort has a simplistic style and musical design that moves you through highly pixelated, but weirdly sensual landscapes, ending in a cacophony of musical climaxes.

Transmission from Griffith Film School’s Daniel Galbraith and Sean Fitzpatrick
Transmitter captures the panic, tension and stress of the Vietnam War – specifically, the capture of Saigon by the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam and the People’s Army of Vietnam – by placing participants within a period-authentic area and tasking them with deciphering incoming transmissions. With no context to the situation, those involved must interpret their role in the events they uncover. The tension of the event therefore lies not in the event itself, but in the unknown circumstances that arise out of participation.

Hanley Arty Swirly Colourful from Griffith Film School’s Thomas Hanley
Arty Swirly Colourful (ASC) is an interactive relaxation experience which the player with a calming, relaxing escape from everyday life. Players will freely roam a fantasy world, discovering various points of interest, and observing the beauty of nature’s ever-changing presence.

Blown Away (Sydney 365, 2014) from University of New South Wales’ Brigid Costello
Working with 365 days of pollution data from Sydney, Australia, Blown Away traces the intersection between wind and pollution expressed as rhythms of light and dark within a 3-dimensional grid of cubes. Each day’s pollution particle count is represented by a cluster of cubes that fall from a point drawn from the daily wind direction. This process gradually destroys the grid structure and transforms a pristine white plane into a jagged dark landscape.

Coming Through: an animated experience of postnatal depression from Griffith Film School’s Andi Spark.
“Coming Through” is an interactive fragmented animated work about the perils of mothering and postnatal depression. The project relies heavily on visual symbol and metaphor, created with a deceptively simple line-drawn style mimicking a personal sketchbook or journal. A humorous approach to the serious subject matter is the cornerstone of this work that may provide opportunity for engagement, reflection or emotional connection related to the viewer’s own memories or experiences.

VR-Rides: Interactive VR Games for Health from University of Sydney’s Kiran Ijaz, Yifan Wang, David Milne and Rafael Calvo.
VR Rides is a virtual reality game that aims to engage older adults in physical and cognitive exercise to reduce their risk of developing dementia. The experience combines a recumbent tricycle, real-world imagery (sourced from Google Streetview), an Oculus Rift headset and a Microsoft Kinect camera, such that the player can navigate real locations in a safe virtual environment. Using this platform, we further developed two game designs: Competitive (ghost/virtual player as opponent to guess visited cities) and affiliative (virtual tour to invoke and share memories).

VR Immersive Slow Reef Experience from Griffith Film School’s Tim Marsh, Nathan Jensen, Whitney Constantine and Elliot Miller.
This immersive VR experience is a continuation of our work on slow interactions and slow serious gameplay to open opportunities for reflection and contemplation, to explore, learn about and experience the beauty and wonder of corals, marine life and ecosystems in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

A Game of Horseshoes for the Ineffectual Martyr 0.2 from freelance academic writer, artist & curator Madeleine Boyd and Jason Haggerty.
Based in the concepts of new materialism and empathy studies an interactive artwork ‘A game of horseshoes for the ineffectual martyr’ was developed. The game is linked to the long standing relations and even ancient social contract between horses and humans, systems thinking, and economic externalities (of cruelty), and the adoption of a matter-based discussion of art. Key ideas are that the horse-human dyad is a powerful figure in humanity’s cultural evolution. Also, that the conundrums of cruelty towards other species in human economies are best engaged within a complex perspective. It is considered that the ‘ancient social contract’ with horses has been broken by current over breeding, racing and wastage practices. Extending theory about the horse racing culture to include horse rescue suggests there is a heavy burden on constitutive outsiders. Looking forward, it is suggested that like the horse-human dyad, Homo sapiens must adapt in-relation-to, not by destruction-of other. Contemporary art has a role, doing work in the gallery by creating material-discursive connections between disparate temporal and cultural fora towards ‘other worlding for species justice’.

de.form from Griffith Film School’s Tyson Foster.
In DE.FORM (working title) the player will be presented a circular menu that curves around them containing the various experiences they can select to load. From the main menu they can select a gameplay atom of their choice, or they can auto-play all of the different experiences one after the other. Each experience is created to provide varying perspectives of the different creatures that have been created. The experiences range from tranquil first person sequences to more action based third person sequences. For example, in a first person experience in DE.FORM (working title) the creature will be floating around the player while tracking the players gaze and head position. The creature will react to the player’s gaze and the player’s physical presence in the virtual world, such as making eye contact or reacting to the player’s extended arm reaching out to the creature.

ABOUT SERIOUS GAMES – Games, Play, Interactions and Art with Purpose
Serious games are simulations and games for purposes beyond pure entertainment. Serious games stretches across a broad spectrum of application domains, ranging from game-based learning, simulation and training, through games for health, well-being and behaviour change, marketing and business, to games for tourism and cultural heritage, and games to raise awareness and provoke questioning on environmental, moral and social issues. The adoption and use of serious games in recent years has been significant and widespread. Already worldwide revenues from the game-based learning and simulation sectors have well exceeded the billion dollar mark and this is forecast to double over the next five years. At the same time, technological and artistic innovation in serious games and gamification is creating new ways to play, interact and experience.

The Joint Conference on Serious Games – JCSG is an international conference in the area of serious games. It was formed in 2015 by combining the Serious Games Development & Applications (SGDA) and the GameDays conferences to bring together the close relationship and overlap of their corresponding communities. All previous conferences have been hosted in Europe and this is the first time the event has been held in Australia.

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