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

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

A path less trodden: Realistic impossible games

There’s a category of games which deals with ‚the impossible‘ as main theme. This is an approach which takes an entirely different direction than the quest for more realism in gaming. Most mainstream games usually strive for physical, contextual or emotional realism: Realistically behaving objects and environments, relatable everyday settings, involving and intriguing characters.

Each of this categories has a counterpart, be it an M.C.Escher-like warped universe or a Black-White-Shift of invertible negative space of the same ilk, a Lewis Carroll-like twisted conception of reality’s relationships or the Oliver Sacks‚-like madnesses of people both strange and affectionate.

The german expression ‚verrückt‘ would fit well, meaning both ‚crazy‘ and ‚pushed out of place‘. It’s a radical change of view, both forced on the player and also a necessary precondition to understand and play the game.