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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nordic Digra - Summary

The first Nordic DIGRA conference was held at DSV in Kista, Stockholm, the 16th and 17th of August. There were 12 paper presentations in a single track, two keynotes and one workshop.

The conference was really nice, and a good opportunity to connect and reconnect with researchers working in the Nordic countries. For years we have kept meeting at international conferences, far away from home, joked about that it is so strange that it is so, and that we should do more to meet here. And it seems like we are ready to do this more now; at the Nordic Digra Chapter meeting we realized that it could be possible to make the Nordic Conference an annual one. It doesn’t have to be enormous, but like this year, a single track conference during two days, some workshops, and perhaps we could add a doctoral consortium as well.

The highlight for me was Christopher Sanbergs’ keynote where he described the development of the high end technology assisted LARP Conspiracy for good. In the fiction of the the game is a dichotomy between the big evil company Blackwell Bridge who under marketing disguises of being ‘good’ sucks the life energy out of nature and people. The underdog good guys is the resistance movement. In the underlying reality the game uses actors and cellphone technology where one of the niftiest things is that they hide clues in Morse code embedded in music. Another underlying reality is that the revenue from the game is used to raise funds which benefits the real village in Zimbabwe that the fiction in the game revolves around.
Christopher got some critique after his presentation; why do this as a game instead of doing ‘good’ the traditional way through established organisations such as the red cross or amnesty? He answered by saying that they wanted to try another way of doing it, see how story and drama can be used to make a difference, how to embed situations where players are exposed to these established organisations such as Doctors for the world, and perhaps reach people who normally might not engage in charity work.
Having worked with Christopher before I know that the engagement is genuine. I’m happy that this is happening, that energy, time and thought is directed in this way. Well done Company P, Nokia, and everyone else involved.

As usual I took some random notes and photos during the conference. I throw them in here in chronological order without much editing - I’m not sure I will get around to do it otherwise.

Notes Day 1
Notes Day 2

All papers are available directly from the conference program web page. This was great, since it became so easy to glance at the publications in parallel to listening.