The Breaking of the Circle

Playing with, through, against medial boundaries.

This article is based on the presentation on September 29th 2011,
„Designs on eLearning DoeL – Future Spaces for Learning“, Helsinki

Picture: DoeL 2011: „Circles within circles“


Digital-networked games are created to foster a desired pattern of behaviour in their users, beyond the mere delivery of content; this is a trait shared with many innovative digital media developments.

This can be seen as an opportunity for creating better learning – or rather teaching – media, but there will also be ideological, propagandistic or commercial (mis)use. What is necessary is a broad approach in arts, ethics and aesthetics to target and tackle the permeating structures behind the obvious content, and hint on playing with medial borders – named here higher order gaming – as an anarchistic, radical counterpart in contrast to rule-conforming, more conservative gaming and game design.

Game design may follow two roads. The classic path of first order game design would be to deliver the content as challenging and as balanced as can be, to draw the player smoothly into the confines and safety of the ‚magic circle‘ of play. Alternatively it may point to the ‚magic circle‘ as a place of manipulation and the player’s power over this manipulation as player/designer. Weiterlesen

Games and the „best way“ to tell stories

Torsten Meyer (thanks!) just sent me a link to a recent interview with game designer Peter Molyneux, published in the „Tageszeitung“, the title translates as „Fable-Gamedesigner Peter Molyneux: A visionary and charlatan“

Molyneux is quite enthusiastic about interactive-adaptive stories as games, but omits other aspects of the relation of „story“ and „game“ resp. „play“ which I think are quite important.
If there’s the question „How can stories in games ever compete with books and movies?“, one may have fallen to an error of categorisation. Stories in games have to deal with similar problems as texts in the digital medium: They are easily seen as simple transfers from previous technical media, but basically the same as before, a linear progression of meaningful – or dramatically arranged – information.

First Faculty Research Day

This wednesday there will be a presentation of projects and initiatives stating research interests of members of our faculty. As it seems, my poster (german) will be up, too, to give a slight and very superficial overview on Game Based Learning and its implications, as expressive medium, ethical playground, experimental simulation, metagame and cultural mirror. The first feedback so far: Nice idea using Tetris. And having a certain yellowpress-appeal in its brutal bluntness. Well, one can do worse, I guess.

All initiatives can be found at

The teacher as hero

A hero (…) is a (mostly male) person with exceptional abilities or traits, driving him to exceptional feats, so called heroic deeds.

Wikipedia „Held“ (Dec 6th 2008), translated from german

Don’t we all wish for us to make a difference for what we do, to achieve greatness, and to get apprehension for this? As well as artists, doctors, politicians, soldiers and fighters do teachers and mentors of all kind find their way into medial representation. Best known, probably, are teachers in mainstream movies. You can probably put up a set of teacher-archetypes as diverse as in any fairy-tale cast. Movies like the german „Feuerzangenbowle“ come to mind, where we get three clichees to compare: The beloved put disrespected kind one, the stern but fair one, or the authoritarian despised one. But there are also more recent movies, with archetypes of eastern (the ubermensch, the fool) and US-american cultural ilk (the victim, the physical fighter, the heartthrob)


Traditional structures and courses

Linearity, finality and causality are ‚traditonal‘ concepts of structure, i.e. they happen in a frame of reference and orientation we’re culturally used to, though this frame is currenty undergoing constant disassembly.

If a project’s course doesn’t follow the line of planning – realisation – finalisation – application, but exists in x versions in a treelike development; if there are networked and synergetic effects from all directions; if the project is never finished or has never started in the first place because of precursing projects it built upon – then it is non-linear, dendritic, hypertextual, rhizomatic, circulary-causal.

This is a starting point for a view on modern systemic depictions, or it’s entertaining sub section of gaming and metagaming.