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Save the date. Conference Interactive Experiences: Visual Aesthetics and the Way We Play

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The conference «Interactive Experiences» is curated and hosted by the Subject Area in Game Design of the Zurich University of the Arts in cooperation with Ludicious – Zürich Game Festival and will take place on January 18th, 2018 at Kasernenareal Zurich. It addresses game designers, artists, and creative professionals. This year’s topic «Visual Aesthetics and the Way We Play» will focus on visual art styles in contemporary game design and their impact on how we play. The goal is to show how innovative aesthetics alter the gameplay experience and generate new modes of interaction. A unique visual appearance has become a crucial factor for the publishing of any game in an increasingly competitive market. We believe, however, that the visual style can be more than merely packaging or depiction of existing game mechanics. We think that visual aesthetics can have an impact on interactive experiences and the nature of games. The conference emphasizes the impact innovative visuals can have on the creation of new forms of play and how they can expand the boundaries of the medium.

The curators:
Prof. Ulrich Götz | Florian Faller | Maike Thies

The speakers:

_Playful Spaces – Starfield, Enthusiast Overlay, Les Metamorphoses De Mr. Kalia
Beatrice Lartigue, Lab 212 (FR)

Lab212 combines art and technology to construct immersive and sensory experiences. Thanks to backgrounds in art, design and computation, the collective develops new modes of interaction. The striking visual art of Lab212’s interactive installations impacts on how we play. Using craft and technology to ignite imagination and convey emotions, day-to-day human gestures are magnified to reach the inaccessible. Lab212’s work is inclusive and their pieces have many layers that can be discovered at different depths.

Béatrice Lartigue is a visual artist working as a part of the interdisciplinary collective Lab212. Founded in 2008 by a group of friends who all graduated in Interactive Design at the School of Visual Art les Gobelins in Paris, the French artist collective puts our daily lives and environments into perspective, highlighting the invisible ties that bind space, movement and time through interactive storytelling. Lab212 draws on science, videogames and music to build poetic and playful sensory experiences.

_Obscure Me Plenty – Memory of a Broken Dimension
Ezra Hanson-White, Outbounds (US)

This talk will dive into the look of «Memory of a Broken Dimension», over-viewing the approaches taken as the game’s aesthetic evolved during development. Core ideas and goals of the project will be covered, related to the direct coupling of game systems with audio/visual design. It will encourage the importance of reinventing, theming or obscuring common indicators of games, to further reinforce the intentions of a project and its imprint left on players.

Ezra Hanson-White is currently developing «Memory of a Broken Dimension», aiming to release in 2018. He has over 10 years experience working in the game industry, primarily as a level designer and currently resides in the Pacific Northwest region. «Memory of a Broken Dimension» is his first solo project, it won two awards at IndieCade 2015 and was a IGF 2015 Visual Art finalist. The game will be released under the recently created «Outbounds label».

_Aesthetic of Nostalgy – Narita Boy
Eduardo Fornieles, Studio Koba (ESP)

As an art director and visual developer, aesthetics in a videogame is fundamental to me. You can find aesthetics references on the internet but you mostly find them in your heart. When I decided to create «Narita Boy», I knew it had to be the game I wanted to play with. I needed to explore all the cultural references of my younghood and understand my connection to each one of them. I believed that if I was able to connect with this place in the past where everything was great, I could connect with future players of «Narita Boy».

Eduardo started his career in the animation industry. Worked as an art director and background artist at the studios in Barcelona. Then he moved to Tokyo and worked for a French game studio as a creative director. Later he worked at the Sweedish game studio in Tokyo to develop the upcoming PS4 game «Vane» as a visual developer. He moved back to Spain in 2016 to create his own game and posted the campaign on Kickstarter. It was succeeded in early 2017. Currently developing retro-futuristic pixel game «Narita Boy» as a game director.

_More is Less – Kids
Mario von Rickenbach, Michael Frei, Playables (CH)

Mario von Rickenbach and Michael Frei will talk about their minimalist approach to design. They will give an insight into their working methods on some of their more recent projects such as their upcoming game Kids.

Michael Frei is a Swiss artist based in Zürich. He studied animation at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts and at the Estonian Academy of Art in Tallinn. His films «Not About Us» and «PLUG & PLAY» received numerous awards all over the world. He was invited «Animation Artist in Residence Tokyo» in 2014. In 2015 he completed his first game «PLUG & PLAY». He is now producing and directing the project «KIDS».

Mario von Rickenbach is a Swiss game designer and developer based in Zurich. He studied Game Design at the Zurich University of the Arts, and more recently co-founded Playables. His award-winning works include the games «Mirage», «Krautscape», «Drei» and «Rakete» and «PLUG & PLAY». He is teaching game design at the University of Art and Design Lausanne (ECAL) in the Media & Interaction Design programme.

_Visual Disruption – Spher
Mylène Dreyer (CH)

Mylène Dreyer will explain how, from one visual trick, she conceptualized the puzzle game SPHER. She will show that aesthetic is not only a way of defining game identity. For example, It allows to disrupt the player’s visual perception. Working on these optical special effects can lead to interesting gameplay explorations.

Swiss interaction designer Mylène Dreyer shows her interest for interactive and animated media through games and experimental set up. As a developer and designer, Dreyer’s work focuses on the unexpected, seeking to disturb the player in order to create innovative interactive experiences.

_Keynote: Artificial Truth – Everything
David OReilly (US)

Aesthetic theory has been a core aspect of my thinking and practice for many years. In this talk I will give a broad overview of this subject as it relates to art inside and out of the world of games. I will describe how aesthetics relate to ideas, to the identity of the artist and to the world. How they are created and how they die. I will share my thought process in developing artificial worlds, extending from the ideas put forth in my 2009 essay «Basic Animation Aesthetics».

David OReilly (b. Ireland, 1985) is an artist working in the fields of design, animation and video games. He is the creator of the groundbreaking animated films «Please Say Something» and «The External World», his work has won numerous awards and been the subject of several retrospectives internationally. He served as writer for the television shows Adventure Time & South Park, and created the fictional video game in Spike Jonze’s Academy Award winning film «Her». In 2014 he released his first independent game «Mountain» and followed up with «Everything» in 2017.

© Everything. David OReilly. 2017
© Everything. David OReilly. 2017
© Narita Boy. Koba Studios. 2017
© Narita Boy. Koba Studios. 2017
© Les Metamorphose de Mr. Kalia. Lab 212. 2017
© Les Metamorphose de Mr. Kalia. Lab 212. 2017
© SPHER. Mylene Dreyer. 2017
© SPHER. Mylene Dreyer. 2017
© Kids. Playables. 2017
© Kids. Playables. 2017
© Memory of a Broken Dimension. Outbounds. 2017
© Memory of a Broken Dimension. Outbounds. 2017