Program Board of the Clash of Realities Conference

In 2015 and 2016, Clash of Realities —The International Conference on the Art, Technology, and Theory of Digital Games took place in Cologne for the sixth and seventh time. At the center of Europe’s premier artistic-academic research conference lie questions concerning the aesthetic development, theoretical analysis, and cultural mediation of digital games. Conference guests included scholars from the humanities, social scientists, specialists in education, game developers of all kinds—from AAA companies to Indie start-ups—, up-and-coming creative talent, students, and all those interested in and excited by digital games.

This volume features the best of the many lectures given at Clash of Realities 2015 and 2016.

The year 2015 marked a fresh start for Clash of Realities. Founded as a biannual event in 2006 by Winfred Kaminski of the Institute for Media Research and Media Pedagogy at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences, and Martin Lorber of Electronic Arts Germany, the conference set out to redress the lack of an interdisciplinary forum on digital games in Germany and Europe. The premier goal was to facilitate and stimulate academic debates on pedagogical, psychological, sociological, and cultural aspects of digital gaming. However, from its beginning, the conference also aspired to be a place for communication among academia, politics, media, and other relevant stakeholders in the area of digital games.[1]

In 2010, Björn Bartholdy and Gundolf S. Freyermuth of the then-recently founded Cologne Game Lab of the Cologne University of Applied Sciences joined the conference board and started to organize a new track dedicated to Game Development and Game Studies. The five bi-annual conferences between 2006 and 2014 were documented in the publication of proceedings.[2]

In 2015, after Kaminski’s retirement, Bartholdy and Freyermuth took over the organization of the conference and restructured it. The perspective and orientation were widened to include academics and artists from more specializations. Additional partners were recruited, specifically the ifs internationale filmschule köln (international film school Cologne) and the Institut für Medienkultur und Theater (Institute for Media Culture and Theater) at the University of Cologne.

As a consequence of the expanded function of the conference as an interface of academic research and artistic creation, a new structure was implemented. The conference now consists of a Summit Day facilitating specialized discussions in smaller and more homogeneous groups, and a Main Day encouraging hetero­geneous exchange among the different academic specializations concerning themselves with digital games and, most importantly, between academics and artists.

This volume documents Main Day keynotes and lectures of five summits:

  • Game Studies Summit: Organized by the Cologne Game Lab and the Institute for Media Culture and Theater, this summit concerns itself with the analytical and critical interpretation of digital games from the perspective of the humanities, specifically of media and cultural As digital games shape our self-perception as well as our perception of the world around us, the emerging new field of Game Studies requires an emphasis on the investigation and promotion of games literacy. In 2015, Benjamin Beil and Gundolf S. Freyermuth curated the summit; in 2016, Benjamin Beil, Gundolf S. Freyermuth, and Hanns Christian Schmidt led the proceedings.
  • Media Pedagogy and Media Ethics Summit: Organized by the Institute for Media Research and Media Pedagogy in cooperation with Electronic Arts Germany, this summit aims to discuss a broad spectrum of subjects related to the application of digital games in educational contexts. A particular focus highlights ethical questions, such as the presentation of characters, conflicts and conflict resolutions as well as a critical review of the communication culture in player communities. In 2015, Isabel Zorn, Martin Lorber and Jürgen Sleegers curated the summit. In 2016, Angela Tillmann, Martin Lober and André Weßel led the proceedings.
  • Film and Games Summit: Organized by ifs internationale filmschule köln, this summit explores visual regimes and modes of perception, particularly in regards to the relation between film and digital games. In accordance with current developments in screen culture, as well as with theoretical debates engaged within these changes, the focus lies on converging media aesthetics as well as dynamically evolving media synergies. The summit was curated by Csongor Baranyai in 2015, by Lisa Gotto in 2016.
  • Game Development Summit: Organized by the Cologne Game Lab, this summit focuses on the practice of making games by presenting concrete showcases of development processes along with critical reflection. Speakers at this summit range from representatives of the game industry (from AAA and Indie) to academic researchers to specialists from relevant fields. In 2015, Björn Bartholdy and Katharina Tillmanns curated the summit; in 2016, Björn Bartholdy and Krystian Majewski.
  • Games Preservation Summit: Organized by Electronic Arts Germany, this summit concerns itself with the current state and future of games preservation, particularly with comprehensive and systematic efforts for the preserva­tion of digital games and the many challenges preservation is facing, ranging from technical to methodical to legal questions and issues. In 2016, Martin Lorber and Fabian Weichert curated this summit.
Speakers and organizers of the Clash of Realities Conference (2016)



The sixth and seventh Clash of Realities Conferences took place at the Cologne Game Lab (CGL) of TH Köln and the ifs internationale filmschule köln; in 2015 from Monday, November 2, through Wednesday, November 5, 2015; in 2016 from Monday, November 14, through Wednesday, November 16. Both conferences were planned and designed by a Program Board, which was chaired by Björn Bartholdy and Gundolf S. Freyermuth of CGL. Members of the Program Board included Angela Tillman, André Weßel, and Isabel Zorn of the Institute for Media Research and Media Pedagogy, Csongor Baranyai, Lisa Gotto, Sunedria Nicholls-Gärtner, and Simone Stewens of ifs internationale filmschule köln, Benjamin Beil and Hanns Christian Schmidt of the Institute for Media Culture and Theater, and Martin Lorber of Electronic Arts Germany.

The conferences were made possible by the generous support of TH Köln, Film and Medien Stiftung NRW, the City of Cologne, Ford Motor Company, and Electronic Arts Germany. Our sincerest thanks go to these institutions and companies.

The conferences owe much of their success to the extraordinary staff that helped organize and promote the events, in particular to Judith Ruzicka and Katharina Klimek of CGL, and the many members of CGL student support groups as well as to Mathias Mehr (CGL) for providing technical assistance and to Judith Neumann (CGL), Miriam Edinger and Uljana Thaetner (ifs), Sybille Fuhrmann and Petra Schmidt-Bentum (TH Köln), and Martin Lorber (EA) for the continuous press work. Katharina Tillmanns (CGL) moderated both conference Main Days with intelligence and wit.

The Program Board owes the deepest debt of gratitude, however, to the international speakers and presenters—more than a hundred academics and artists from over a dozen countries.

Final minutes of the 7th Clash of Realities Conference (2016)



Initial author support, editing, and formatting as well as final approval was provided by the heads of each summit. Curtis L. Maughan (CGL) tirelessly edited and proofread most of the contributions. Carmen Schneidereit (CGL) produced the layout. She was assisted by the publication workgroup of CGL students, David Kade (ifs), and Judith Ruzicka (CGL). The editorial process was supervised and managed by Gundolf S. Freyermuth. We thank them all for their help.

Last but not least, we would like to thank the TH Köln for supporting the publication of this book.


[1]     The political significance was underlined by the fact that the first conference in 2006 was opened by Armin Laschet, then Minister for Intergenerational Affairs, Family, Women, and Integration, today the State Premier of North-Rhine Westphalia.

[2]     Kaminski, Winfred/Lorber, Martin (eds.): Computerspiele und soziale Wirklichkeit. Munich: kopaed, 2006; Kaminski, Winfred/Lorber, Martin (eds.): Clash of Realities 2008 – Spielen in digitalen Welten, Munich: kopaed, 2008; Kaminski, Win­fred/ Lorber, Martin (eds.): Clash of Realities 2010: Computerspiele: Medien und mehr, Munich: Kopaed 2010; Kaminski, Winfred/Lorber, Martin (eds.): Gamebased Learning – Clash of Realities 2012, Munich: Kopaed 2010; Kaminski, Win­fred/Lorber, Martin (eds.): Spielwelt – Weltspiel. Narration, Interaktion und Kooperation im Computerspiel – Clash of Realities 2014, Munich: Kopaed 2014.

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