On the 21st of October the annual Play seminar will be held for the eleventh time since 2005. It has been 10 years of play and this year games with an agenda are in focus.
The Play seminars is an annual event held by Creative Europe, Interactive Danmark, the Danish Film Institute (DFI) and DADIU where developers discuss a variety of subjects concerning the contents of video games.
“The Play seminars started in 2005. Back then there were several seminars focused on how hard it was to get funding and how a few publishers ruled the world of games, but nobody talked about the creative side of game development,” Kristine Ploug, the head of studies on DADIU explains.
She continues to explain how they settled on the name of Play: “It took us a few years to coin the term ‘play’. It is actually a funny story – around 2010 the seminar had become an annual event, and we started to think about creating an identity for the seminars. It took us a while to realize that we had used Play in the title twice, but once we realized it, Play became the identity.”
This year the organizers decided to focus on games with an agenda because of their growing prominence in the industry.
“We chose this topic because we have a sense that it has developed a lot. We see ‘classic’ AAA games having an agenda other than pure entertainment – the games from Vander Caballero’s Minority Media are examples of this,” Kristine Ploug elaborates. Vander Caballero, the creator of Papo and Yo is also one of this years key speakers, touching the subject of reaching and entertaining children with tough subjects like domestic abuse and bullying.
Games with an agenda are becoming mainstream, making it an interesting subject worthy of discussion. But creating games with an agenda isn’t an easy task. Storytellers have to find a way to marry the concept of fun with heavy themes, two concepts that could be viewed as opposites.
“I also think the notion of fun is a challenge – games are driven ahead by being engaging and fun – and how do you handle fun, if the topic is not really funny. We have asked American game designer Erin Hoffman to address the issue of fun at Play for Real – her talk is called Precision of Emotion- A New Kind of ‘Fun’ Approach,” Ploug explains.
The seminars are open for anyone interested in joining and it will take place in Copenhagen at The Cinematheque on the 21st of october. The price of admission is 250 danish kroner which includes coffee, croissant, lunch and cake.