Confoederatio Ludens at the Games & Literature Festival in Marbach

by Eugen Pfister and Adrian Demleitner

From 28th to 30th June 2023, the German Literature Archive Marbach has organized a conference on “Games & Literature. On the literacity, research, collection, and archiving of computer games”. The idea for this conference came because, since 2019, the Literaturarchiv has been collecting not only German-language literature but also digital games if they “contain narrative structures to a high degree.”1 In the words of the call for presentations: “The substantive reasons for this decision are numerous, but, fundamentally, computer games have long been part of our cultural memory, which must be archived appropriately and examined in relation to established cultural forms.”2 Accordingly, the self-imposed goal of the conference was to discuss with international colleagues issues of collecting and archiving digital games, as well as research questions concerning the nexus between digital games and literature. Even if the claim turned out to be a little too ambitious in retrospect, a very exciting and fruitful exchange took place. Over three days, more than thirty colleagues from three continents presented their research, and we were honoured that our project was represented by four colleagues: The second day was opened by René Bauer and Beat Suter from the ZHdK with their keynote “Considerations for Archiving Games. From the Perspective of Game Design”. And on the third day, Eugen Pfister and Adrian Demleitner from HKB presented our joint historical database of games developed in the DACH region up to 2000: “Why we thought it was a good idea to build a DACH games database.”

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  1. https://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/games/deutsches-literaturarchiv-marbach-sammelt-kuenftig-auch-computerspiele-a-1255563.html []
  2. https://www.dla-marbach.de/forschung/verbund-marbach-weimar-wolfenbuettel/tagung-literature-games/ []

Our delegation in Seville for DiGRA 2023

by Yannick Rochat, Larissa Wild, Pierre-Yves Hurel, Sophie Bémelmans and Eugen Pfister

A project like Confoederatio Ludens requires that we regularly attend conferences in order to present our results, gather constructive feedback, and keep an eye on what our international colleagues are discovering. This year, the annual conference of the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) – the main research community in game studies – happened in Seville, Spain, on the site of the universal exposition of 1992. We sent 6 delegates to the conference: Sophie Bémelmans (UNIL), Pierre-Yves Hurel (UNIL), Mela Kocher (ZHdK), Eugen Pfister (HKB), Yannick Rochat (UNIL) and Larissa Wild (ZHdK). Here is an overview of their week.

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CH-Ludens Kick off. How the Sinergia came into being.

by Eugen Pfister

How it all began

Our SNSF-Sinergia project unites a dynamic team of 20 researchers across four university locations in Switzerland: The Bern Academy Of the Arts, the University of Bern, the University of Lausanne and the Zurich University of the Arts. We come from different cantons and countries as well as from different research directions and – not but – we are united by a common research interest: The study of the history of digital games in Switzerland.

It is a huge privilege that we can – and in fact are supposed to – do in our project exactly what has driven us in our individual research for years, but now as a collaborative team. Our goal is, therefore, on the one hand, to learn as much as possible from each other and find fruitful ways to synergise with our different methods and research questions. On the other hand, we are considering digital games as a cultural technique that will contribute to a better understanding of the digitalization of Swiss society throughout the past century. Our project will run from February 2023 to January 2027.

On February 2, 2023 we (that is almost all of us) met in the rooms of the HKB for the kick-off of our project. Some of us had known each other for a long time by then. These personal and professional networks proved to be essential in the genesis of the project. I had known Yannick Rochat for five years at that point and among other things we had written an essay highlighting the need for this research in Austria and Switzerland in January 2021. Together with him, we first came up with the idea of submitting a proposal for the SNSF Sinergia funding scheme. In turn, I already knew René Bauer, Mela Kocher and Beat Suter from the internationally renowned gameZ & ruleZ conference, to which they had invited me to give a talk in 2019. Our colleagues from the ZHDK probably have the most comprehensive knowledge of the history of digital games in Switzerland. René and Beat accordingly wrote a three-part essay on the topic for my blog as early as 2021. Finally, I met Tobias Hodel and Addrich Mauch at a Game Studies Community meeting at the University of Bern in February 2021. Shortly after the event, I asked them to join us. I also had the enormous luck to have Arno Görgen at my side as a colleague and partner for more than six years. Inside this constellation, we have been working on the preparations for the application since 2020.

I believe one of the great strengths of our project is the extremely strong dynamic of mutual curiosity and openness in our team, which we also emphasized in the cover letter for our application. In our regular preparation meetings, it became apparent again and again how organically our group worked together. Our research complemented each other perfectly and in doing so we were united by a common interest.

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