At the same time as Milan is opening the doors to the crowded Design Week, Gothenburg is opening the annual International Science Festival. This year the theme is play in all its forms and well-attended game events are taken place all over the city. But in an almost empty conference hall, far away from the public game activities in Gothenburg or the media spotlight and the well-visited arenas in Milan, I have the opportunity to listen to some of Scandinavia’s most renowned computer game researchers discussing our virtual future.

Game Studies is still a young, but growing, field of research, where we get a new understanding of the area and a hint of future expectations of interface design and possible user groups. Their reports indeed indicates highly interesting facts when looking for patterns amongst the next generation of consumers, such as ways of communicating in relation to the screen while playing, factors that may stimulate the never ending hunt for game rewards, or questions about gender and identity.

Even if the discussion mostly is focusing on the game design development – with questions like why replicating the real world, with structures in economy, religion, market, laws, etc., when we are free to create our experimental world in the virtual, or the facts that we see a growing professional sport field in computer gaming – the most interesting questions would be raised if we could combine the reports with ambitions of developing our society in large.
For example, millions of gamers are playing a considerable part of their spare time to get game points – and higher status in the game community. How can we use this knowledge of the power of motivation when discussing how to change behaviours for other purposes, such as sustainable lifestyle changes?

New interfaces mean new challenges. What is a computer tomorrow? And in what kind of situations do we play? The transformation from leisure to work, from play to industry, takes different shapes, but the trend is strong: We have only seen the very beginning of the impact from computer games – the blooming game era is to come, and in areas we have not yet imagined!

This is a post by David report contributor Hanna Ljungström.

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