“Seeing, creating, talking, partying with digital games”. The claim of this year’s festival PLAY, taking place from 15th to 19th of September in different locations in Hamburg’s city centre, also serves as an overview for the different aspects of the computer gaming festival. Andreas Hedrich, co-founder of the initiative Creative Gaming, which organises the festival, explains the program in depth.
Premiere of the Creative Gaming Award
Central aim of the PLAY festival is to stress the creative side of computer-gaming and the gaming-culture. “The main part is a big exhibition with indie-games and media art, which addresses digital games and also consists of objects and paintings”, Hedrich explains. The exhibition also includes the nominees of the Creative Gaming Award, which is being awarded within the PLAY festival for the first time. Hedrich sees the award as this year’s highlight: “It’s addressed at games which work with the medium in an especially creative way. By now, we’ve received more than a hundred submissions from twenty countries.”
Cinema, theatre, museum
Next to the exhibition and the award, another main part of the festival is the workshop program. “In the workshops, I can learn about my possibilities and what I need to create a computer game, to design it, how I get characters into the game. But also, more fundamentally, what a game consists of. The program is pretty extensive, there are over thirty workshops that can be booked.” These workshops take place in the building of Bigpoint GmbH. Further locations include the Metropolis cinema, the Ohnsorg theatre, the Thalia theatre, the Museum for Art and Trade, the media bunker as well as the chamber of commerce next to city hall, where the festival conference will take place.
Key aspect: emotions
This year, the PLAY-Conference is concentrating on emotions – how digital games ignite emotions, what emotions players feel and what emotions mean to artificial intelligence. The conference includes talks, in which guests will be interviewed on handling games, but also the digital gaming culture. TV-host Uke Bosse will lead through the interviews. “The ‘Talking’-area also includes short inputs from game-designers and –artists”, Hedrich adds.
Computer gaming in Low German
Differing from the expectations, the ‘Partying’-area does not centre on an aftershow event at the club Uebel & Gefährlich. “We want to point out elements of the digital gaming culture in which different forms of culture appear. This includes a poetry slam, a theatre performance as well als bands, but also a Let’s Play-format in Low German that is being staged at Ohnsorg theatre.” ‘Let’s Play’ is a form of collective gaming, in which one person or more people control the computer game and explain their actions, whilst the viewers watch and commentate. ‘Partying’ also includes a talk with Heinz Strunk, member of the band ‘Fraktus’, who “will point out an amusing part of the gaming culture”, Hedrich says.
Main co-host of the festival is the Federal Agency for Civic Education. But the supporters also include the Centre for Youth Information of the city Hamburg, the Senate Chancellery, the Media Foundation Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, the Citizens Foundation as well as Hamburg University of Applied Sciences and the University of Hamburg. “There are also a lot of smaller sponsors, but also some of the big game publishers in the city”, Hedrich adds.
Good sign for Hamburg’s gaming industry
With the DevGAMM festival, which is being hosted in Hamburg for the first time in this year, another computer game event is taking place just one week before the PLAY15. But Andreas Hedrich is happy about the assumed competition. “Big developer conferences have a different target group, have other topics and deal with other key aspects of the gaming industry. And that is not our metier, we won’t get into each other’s ways. Therefore I would rather say, it is a good sign when other events also come to Hamburg.”