Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Lecture at the Level Up (DiGRA) Conference

University of Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Level Up was a curious cross between a dry academic conference and a full-scale game industry party at E3. Held in classrooms at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands, many (too many) of the sessions were delivered in the obscure language of academe, and to make matters worse, some speakers just read their printed papers aloud -- an insomnia cure if there ever was one. I hope next year the selection committee puts a little more emphasis on academic research of practical value: graphics, artificial intelligence, simulation techniques, interactive storytelling, gameplay, art, animation, and music. I did get to some interesting sessions and met some people I had long wanted to meet, though, and the conference attracted a very good crowd, over 500 attendees.

The other aspect of the conference took the form of loads of machines around to play on (a whole bank of Nokia N-Gages, as well as all three major consoles), some interactive art, and pretty serious partying. Professors don't have much of a rep as party animals, but there was a genteel dinner that turned into a prolonged drinking bout, and a techno-party that went on until at least 4 A.M. I didn't stay that long, but I gather from reports that Frans Mäyrä, the current President of the Digital Games Research Association, is something of a maniac on the dance floor.

My own lecture, "The Construction of Ludic Space," went over quite well although owing to some confusion it had be delivered at warp speed. Fortunately, the PowerPoint slides are on the Lectures page of my website.

I'll definitely go back to Level Up if the next one is held someplace I can afford to get to. Utrecht is a very pretty town and conveniently located for those of us based in Europe.