Empathy games

So this late posted blog-post, is going to be about empathy games, which I personally don’t have a lot of experience with, but I am very intrigued by this genre of games. So typical subjects in empathy games can be depression, suicide, bullying or war just to name a few. So the empathy games makes the player see things in a different perspective, the purpose is to putt the player in a situation where he or she experiences how it’s like for other people who might struggle with some of the subjects I mentioned above. This can serve as a new way to create awareness around topics that might be hard to talk about, and even harder to understand for people who are not in these kinds of situations.

“The Syrian conflict has torn the country apart, leaving thousands dead and driving millions to flee their homes. Many seek refuge in neighbouring countries but others pay traffickers to take them to Europe – risking death, capture and deportation.”

Skjermbilde 2018-04-13 kl. 17.01.41

“Syrian Journey” is a great example of these kind of games. “Syrian Journey” is about the Syrian conflict and it is created by BBC, with the intent to create awareness around the problem. The game takes the player to the refugee crisis in Syria, and it putts the player in real life dilemmas and situations that the refugees is facing during their journey to safety, the game is based of real.

I am a big fan of video games being used for other purposes than just entertainment, games as a platform to share information about a crisis like the “Syrian Journey” and using the platform to create more awareness is a great idea and it’s strange that it haven’t been a done earlier.



Easter Break!

Finally, easter break!

Unfortunately, this has to be a short blog post because i’m sick and have zero energy… We’re still covering aspects of video games in lectures, but at Tuesday we went to Mia’s exhibit – “Texttransformations” – which was pretty cool. I thought it was cool the way she visually displayed a “thought” digital network with the red thread, and also, that she incorporated old forms of textuality in her installation showing the ways of organizing information in the past and pointing to the ways we communicate today. She also incorporated “found objects” from the archives of the Humanities Library making a DADA sensibility of taking a object that seems functionary but reinterpret it in an artistic space to produce new forms of meaning. I took the picture below showing an old Remington typewriter Mia used in her installation. It was stationed next to the modern computer showing kind of a nostalgic illusion of how we used to write.


I’ve continued to post a few #dda’s on Twitter which I’ll share with you.

I thought this was a fun #dda because I haven’t played in AGES. The #dda said we should play for 10 minutes but I think I played for about an hour. I’ve also taken up some time playing games on my phone. There was this game “Temple Run” that was widely popular a few years ago and know I’m playing it for fun (and when I’m bored and want to pass time). Still a casual player. But I got the gaming bug hehe.

I’ll leave you here with this and play some Tempe Run pretending I’m one of the gamers and hoping I will recover from my severe (exaggerating) cold and continue to enjoy my easter break in the sun 😀

God påske!

The Power of a Game

This week in class, we had a series of students presenting games that they were particularly passionate about or had relevance to the work we were doing in class. In particular, I found the peer games showcase of the game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, by Rikke to be very interesting. It is a game that focuses heavily on mental health, an aspect that you wouldn’t tend to associate with a game.


Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is an empathy game, based on Celtic culture where you play as a warrior named Senua. Senua has to defeat otherworldly entities to rescue her dead lover from the goddess Hela. The protagonist suffers from psychosis, a condition where thoughts and emotions are so warped that contact is lost with external reality. Senua has voices in her head telling her what to do, and the player experiences this first hand with the very realistic sound effects of the game. In particular, through the use of panning through the left and right headphones, it makes it incredibly realistic and creepy, and as if the voices are really in your head. Sometimes during the game, the whispering voices become so prominent that it is increasingly difficult to focus on anything else in the world around her. This effectively mimics the conditions that someone with psychosis would experience, in which I think the game is incredibly good at portraying empathy. The very realistic graphics of Senua and the world around her also adds to these realistic effects.


The game has received an amazing response from people actually suffering from psychosis, and they praise the game for helping them to cope with their illness. People say that they have shown the game to their friends and family to try to explain what they are going through with their mental illness. They also say that Senua’s Sacrifice has given them a sense that they are not alone, and that it is amazing to know that there other people are out there going through the same illness.

This game is definitely not for everyone, in fact, I think playing it for ages would leave a big imprint as it really seems to get inside of your head. I also wouldn’t recommend it to children. However, I think that if a game is able to help someone suffering from any illness out there, then I say: that’s amazing.

Red Thread

Before the Easter break, we had a different Tuesday lecture, taking place in the Humanities Library at UiB. We were to experience Zamora’s installation Textransformations which is both a sculpture and an interactive reading experience.

When I came up the stairs and noticed the red threads hung everywhere, I already knew what had been some of the inspiration for this piece. In January, I had been to KODE 2 in Bergen and seen Chiharu Shiota’s thread constructions. It was the same red thread hanging in the library, but it was easy to see that this wasn’t quite the same interpretation — Zamora’s work represented the transformation of textuality from analog to digital form.


Chiharu Shiota: Direction


Shiota’s installation reminds me of a red spiderweb, weaving together the old boats that used to be a well-used transportation option in Bergen. This because the boats are something that was so integrated in the lives of people who lived here, but now, they are just a forgotten memory because of new transport opportunities.
When experiences Textransformations, this was kind of the same feeling I got — though reinterpreted into textuality.


Mia Zamora: Textransformations


As seen in the picture above, the piece included old library cards, books, a book ladder, small drawers, QR codes and computers. Everything is tied together in the red thread which symbolizes the digital networks and shows how these have reorganized our experience of communication. 

The installation furthermore called for user interaction. The QR codes could be scanned and would take you to a quote for example, and the computers could be used for showing our #NetNarr network and how we are all tied together.


Mia Zamora: Textransformations


These objects that make the installation come to show how we usually organized knowledge and how we come to organize it today. I for one hadn’t really seen the library cards for such a long time. Everything today is organized in computer systems. This piece, therefore, also includes elements of the past — something forgotten that has been replaced by newer, faster, digital opportunities that have left the old objects somewhat purposeless.

This way of showing how we went from analog to digital and how everything now is connected via the invisible threads (done visible with these red threads) is very fascinating. It is something that otherwise is easily forgotten: where we came from, how things used to be. We integrate all kinds of digitalization into our lives and leave out the things we once were so dependent on. Now, what we are really dependent on is the digital — the networks, the devices, the opportunities that these offer.

I really enjoyed the installation and the fact that one could contribute to it and interact and engage with it. This further shows the network aspect of the piece. It was a very cool experience, a “blast from the past” and an eyeopener for me of how many small objects that have lost their purposes and have been set aside because of the digitalization of it.

Before & After Påske 2018

What a special few weeks, …time seems to be flying!  So much to reflect on, and in the midst of it all, we have this wonderful Easter-week break to share with family and friends.

This post will be a bit long since I am bridging the week before Påske with a forecast for the week after Påske.  Keep scrolling down for all the necessary information for the end of March and the beginning of April for #NetNarr Norway!

The week before Påske

Many thanks to all of you for attending my installation opening for Textransformations on March 20th.  It was very special to share my work with all of you, and I think we all had a good time at the opening.

Empathy games

In lecture on Thursday March 22nd (slides here) we spoke in more depth about empathy, and pondered the question of whether or not a game can induce an empathetic understanding.  We thought about empathy as a skill – a skill which allows one to imagine oneself in a situation.  Empathy games may train that skill by encouraging players to create new contexts depending on the storyline and interactivity experienced in the video game.  We played Spent, Syrian Journey, and Bad News in class, and and some of you tweeted out some very thoughtful #NetNarr responses to these games:

There are so many other thoughtful comments in our #NetNarr stream.  It’s worth checking it out.

Some catch up announcements:

-Just to help keep the tally on your blog posts thus far, your 7th blog should have been posted by now (Påske).  If you need to do a little catching up, now is a great time to try!

-Your midterm exam (which is accessible on the mitt.uib system) is now live/open, and will stay open for you to complete (on your own time) until Friday April 20th.  It is an “open book” exam, and reflects what we have covered thus far in the course.  Please make sure you complete this midterm exam before April 20th at midnight.


Wow!  This week is one Norwegian tradition that I truly love.  Hope you are all enjoying it too.

The week after Påske

On Tuesday April 3rd, I will be flying to Berkeley CA, and I will be there until Sunday April 8th.  I am presenting some work at the Center for New Media at UC Berkeley.  That means that we will not be meeting for lecture on Tuesday or Thursday the week after this break.  Still, there is a great “field trip” for those of you who were able to sign up.  Your classmate (and #NetNarr resident game developer) Patrick Solbue will meet all of you who have signed up.  Please meet with him directly after Rolf’s Dikult 104 lecture on Tuesday April 3rd, and he will act as guide to Rain Games Studios.   Thank you to Patrick for setting this up!

The overall plan for the week (April 3-7):

**I have materials and some tasks for all of you to work on in lieu of our lecture time together next week.  The below plan is the requirement for all #NetNarr students while I am away at UC Berkeley:

  1. If you haven’t already, please watch the Studio Visit on Gaming & Learning we recorded last week.  It is a good follow-up to lecture last week when we started considering “gamification” and “serious games”:

2.  For more on empathy and games, surf and check out some of these resources (-some light reading to compliment the overall empathy theme):

3.  Please play one of the following games, and consider how effective it may be in imparting empathy.  (**Please note – playing one of these games requires a small purchase, so do a little research and choose the game you are most interested in.  Each of these games is critically acclaimed and should be worth a bit of your time).  When playing your chosen game, please consider the procedural rhetoric involved in shaping your game experience.  Think about how the game works:

4.  Your blog # 8 should be posted by the close of the first week in April (by Sunday, April 8th). You can write about the field trip or the above Studio Visit, and one or more of the empathy games listed here.

I will see you in lecture on Tuesday April 10th.  Until then, I will be checking our #NetNarr stream daily and keeping up with your #NetNarr learning there.  Please be sure to tweet some pics from Rain Games on Tuesday 3/4!!




Blog post 7. “Studio Visit/Empathy in Video Games”

This week started off with a NetNarr studio visit with Remi Kalir and Keegan Long Wheeler, who are both opinion leaders in the realm of gaming and learning within gaming. They had some interesting topics and reflection on the difference on play and games. And how different people have different plays or different games in their peers. As in their daily life is full of different activities that can be seen as a play, and as a game of sorts. But moral of the studio visit is that different perspectives and different times in life anything can be seen as a game, or can be gamified.

Thoughtbox: “Kids will be kids, they’ll suddenly make the floor lava or walk through a portal into another universe. One might never really stop playing, we grow older – but never quit being a child”. 

Serious Games & Empathy Games

“… a game designed for an primary purpose other than pure entertainment.”

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serious_game

In essence, serious games can be applied as an umbrella term for any game-based initiative that has additional, serious agenda. With this, there is sorts of a bigger perspective on things through something interesting as games. We will come back to this with example games. But as gamification, game-based learning and serious games are all focused on one thing – securing engagement. And why to secure engagement? Usually in an agenda of empathy and enlightenment. Keep in mind that there are two types of empathy; cognitive – which is to understanding another’s perspective and identifying with that person, and emotional– being affected by another person’s emotional state. Earlier mention that people have different perspective on things, and people play video games differently depending on which empathetic method they use: cognitive, as in playing the game as main character or emotional, playing the game as a separate person who is helping the main character.

An interesting topic of empathy, is that empathy is based differently in each person. What is meant by that is that empathy is a type of skill. A developed skill within yourself. The skill to imagine yourself in another situation, maybe worse or bad or just difficult of sorts. And with empathy games, this will broaden their skill of empathy a lot to train that skill by encouraging players to create new context depending on the storyline in the video game. So if you wish to feel more empathy or feel sorry for someone or something, play some emotional video games. Or really just engage in some different emotional medias, movies etc. Situated knowledge is the idea that knowledge can only be objective when it is paired with a particular perspective that makes it true. Empathy games help gaining situated knowledge because they expose users to situated that the users would not normally experience. With the right perspective, the user can now understand the validity of statements they would otherwise doubt because they had not experienced it.

That Dragon, Cancer

At the 2016 Game Awards, the incredibly evocative game That Dragon, Cancer was honored with the prestigious ‘Games for Impact’ Award. This award presents the winner with a specific kind of recognition within the industry. To have a title that wins the ‘Games for Impact’ award establishes that the game stood above all others in terms of delivering an experience that is meaningful and thought-provoking. These games leave a firm impact on the player long after they have finished playing the game. That Dragon, Cancer is a very significant game that leaves a mark on anyone who has played it.

The game serves as a memoir for Joel Green who was diagnosed with terminal cancer at age one and sadly passed away at age four. Ryan and Amy Green (The parents of Joel) headed the development of That Dragon, Cancer to serve as a celebration of Joel’s life.

“You let us tell the story of my son Joel.” – That Dragon, Cancer

Ryan Green tells a crowd of supportive and teary-eyed gamers while accepting the ‘Games for Impact’ award: “And in the end, it was not the story that we wanted to tell. But you chose to love us through our grief by being willing to stop, and to listen, and to not turn away. To let my son, Joel’s, life change you because you chose to see him, and to experience how we loved him”. It is as they say, a journey of hope – in the shadow of death.


With that leaves an intermission highlighting our professors intricate #textstransformation exhibition at the HF-library this past week. It will showcase for some time more, so be sure to catch the intricasy while it is still there.



As always, check me out on twitter! Lots of PUGB mobile for the moment, but is soon to jump in on the #DDA’s – stay tuned!

How to play more games

We are creatures of habit. We seek the familiar. The comforting. We create routines for ourselves to blanket ourselves from the noisy reality that is life. Humans do this for everything. Food, people, ideas, entertainment and schedules. At least I do this a lot. Luckily one of my routines involves trying new games. Growing up my family was quite poor, so I didn’t have the cash to try out new games very often. I had my little horde collected over years and years, but I got to try quite a few games through friends and later on, the internet. This is where I got my good routine from. When serving in the military I had a lot of time to kill, but even less cash than usual. So, I stared play flash games and smaller productions which were published online for free. These games can be seen as proto indies. Game developed not with profit in mind, but for the joy of making games and the allure of internet fame.

I got into the habit of playing these games every day. Newgrounds, armour games and Kongregate became my go to place for entertainment. The games presented here were all of varying quality and length, but most of them we’re short affairs. The most common reason people have for not trying random new games is time and money. Most AAA or II games are time consuming projects which demand that the player set of a few days for the experience. Browser game however rarely demand more than an hour or two from you. And they don’t cost any money.

I’m going to recommend a few games now. These are some of my favourites, but that also means that they usually are either puzzle games or some sort of twist on normal games. This might mean that it’s not the best list for new gamers who aren’t familiar with gaming tropes. I do however still recommend you try a few of them and start looking for others at the site.

First of we start with Its just tic tac toe.

This is a newer game which I stumbled over while finding links to the other games. Well worth the time and has a good message on how videogames can subvert and improve upon even the most common of gameplay ideas.



You have to burn the rope


Action! Adventure! You have to burn the rope even has a boss fight. One of my all-time favourites.



Don’t shit your pants


A good puzzle game which harkens back to the text based choose your own story games of yore. It’s a silly premise, but still a good play.





Edmund would later go on to make a few hit games like Super Meat boy and The binding of Isaac. Tons of his old games are however still on Kong and while they lack the polish of his later games they still have the heart.



We become what we behold


Many browser games remind me of student films and short stories. They often have some sort of grand message which they deliver with conviction and without guile. It might not be subtle, but it’s effective.



There is no game


Merging narrative and gameplay is hard and making the narrative about the game which you are currently playing is really damned hard.



Frog Fractions


This game is legendary. Passed around from friend to friend with the only sentence being “Trust me It’s worth it, don’t give up before you find the secret”



In the company of myself


As a kid this game got to me. I still love it for its game mechanics.


As you might have noticed most of these games comes from Kongregate. It’s a platform for browser games which over the years had gotten better and better. I recommend to anyone wanting to experience more games to make a user on the site. Their daily badge system suggests a new game for you to try every day. Tons of known indie developers got their first taste of fame on the site.

By trying new games and exploring the shorter experiences you will broaden your horizon and it will give you a better idea of what is possible with the medium. Not every game needs a massive team or scope.

Game Genres

I’ve been unable to attend to all classes as I’ve been having the flu the last couple weeks. Therfore I have to catch up on lectures and reading. Why not do a little bit of both in this blog-post?

As the title suggests, I’ll explore the different genres games have to offer. Genres are not necessary to simply enjoy a game, but they can be helpful when it comes to studying them.

The first thing needed is a definition of the term. According to Understanding Video Games, a genre is «a category based on certain shared characteristics.» Four different genres were presented during lecture: Action games, adventure games, strategy games and process-oriented games. According to the definition of a genre, each category have the same characteristics.

Action games are intense and involve physical drama. They require mot-sill and hand-eye coordination. A few examples of action games would be Pac-Man and Red Dead Redemption. Both of those games are in many ways different, but they still share the same characteristics.

Adventure games require deep thinking and great patience; involve mysteries and puzzles. In my opinion, terms like «deep» and «great» are vague and can me interpreted differently. Regardless, a decent defintion. Examples would be Maniac Mansion and Dreamfall: the Longest Journey.

Strategy games are like a game of war, but the player resembles the General; conflict on a map (resembling classic board games). There’s an important to distinguish between an RTS (real-time strategy) and a TBS (turn-based strategy). In an RTS the fighting happens in real-time, such as in Warcraft and Age of Empires. The most popular TBS would be chess. Each player got as much time as they want to plan their next move (unless you play speed chess). An example would be Civilization and Heroes: Might of Magic 3.

Process-oriented games is the last category. In those, the player plays with a system. It could fit the definition of a toy to play with; the games lack consistent criterion for success. World of Warcraft is an example of a game like this. There is no specific goal. You do quest after quest, dungeon after dungeon, raid after raid. You grind.

Those were the genres we were introduced to during lecture. I’m quite familiar with those terms as a gamer myself. Seperating games into four genres isn’t much, but it might help someone to do the studying needed. How you categorize something might depend on what research you’re about to do.

When I play games on my computer, I mostly use Steam. Steam is a platform that distributes games online. As of today, I have 234 games in my Steam library. The reason I’m mentioning Steam is that I like how they categorize their games. They don’t only have 4 genres, but way more. I’ll show the main genres below.


Here are action, adventure and strategy games once again. World of Warcraft would go into the definition of RPG, Massively Multiplayer and arguably action and strategy.

Steam don’t just operate with these few genres. As stated in the beginning of this post, a genre is just certain shared characteristics. A genre can be pretty much anything. Below are some more of the genres Steam uses. Those are certainly not all of the genres, but just a few. It might be a bit hard to navigate through all of those, but it can definitely be beneficial to operate with this many categories. If I think females are not represented enough in video games, I can click the «female protagonist» category and play more female oriented games. It’s a quite specific category, but they can be very helpful if I want to play a specific kind of game.

Just because some of these categories are quite specific and narrow, doesn’t mean a game only can be put in a single category.

Let’s take a look at Elder Scrolls: Online, which is a game quite similar to World of Warcraft.


This game is considered as an RPG, open world, MMORPG, fantasy and an action game. If I click the + sign, I can see even more characteristics this game has. It’s worth to mention that all of those categories are defined by its users. I’d say all of those categories applies to World of Warcraft as well. It’s not just a process-oriented game.

My point with this post is that genres aren’t set in stone. A genre is just certain characteristics some games share. A category can be wide, but also quite narrow and specific. What genres you’d use depends on your kind of research as a student, or what kind of game you’d want to play as a gamer.


Games I enjoy

On the 6th week of Netnarr we continued learning about games, and the topic of game genres were brought up. I zoned out debating what my favorite genres are, and realize I enjoy a mix of genres. For example, I love platform games that also are adventure games, like Trine 1 and 2, which has beautiful visuals and a great story, and every character in it is fun to play as (Although Amadeus is my favorite). I also enjoy terraria and starbound, which also are platformers and adventure games. In the past I’ve played World of Warcraft a lot, which is a process-oriented game according to our lecture on Tuesday, and that is certainly not a platformer. Writing about this makes me realize that I might currently prefer games I see as adventure games over shooter games/auction games overall, but I’ve been addicted to a big variety of games within different genres.. I’ll include a picture of my most played games on steam at the moment, where you can see an example of this, and also see how many hours / «timer» I have on the games.

last ned

This list doesn’t include games outside of steam, like minecraft (which I’m addicted to recently, especially modded minecraft, and if minecraft had a way of recording how many hours you’ve spent in the game, I believe my hours would be in the thousands) and Overwatch, which I have over 600 hours on.

It’s a bit scary looking at the numbers above, although these are hours I’ve built up over a long time, many years, and a lot of gamers have more hours than I do (it’s because I’m addicted to Overwatch!!!!!!!! help) I also have the habit of playing the same games over and over without trying new games, which is a bit sad because I have a lot of unplayed games in my library. Y U NO TRY THE GAMES?

I do not enjoy FPS games at all (exluding Overwatch of course, though it’s not a pure fps game), and although I’ve played games like tomb raider (which I loved, but I was rly frustrated sometimes because I had to shoot people and I cant aim LMAO) I don’t think I’d enjoy a shooter game that’s also an online game. I’m fine with it as long as it’s just me alone and I can die and respawn and try again, but being shot my people online, who’s got a lot more experience than me, is just something I don’t want to do, and don’t really enjoy.

Blog post 6. “Eat:Sleep:Repeat”

This week we have a few selected topics to shed some light onto. Firstly this week started really great with three PeerGame ShowCase, featuring City Skylines, World of Warcraft, “One hour, One life”, Dark Souls and Senua’s Sacrifice. The first two games will be covered later in the blog post.

Note: Even though Dark Souls and Senua’s Sacrifice are really interesting games, that I would much like to play. I feel like the first two showcases brings the
Peer Gaming Showcase
to life enough to not dive anymore deeper into the general aspects of video games. 

Moving on into the video game realms – Game Genres

– an arbitrary form of categorization –

Introducing a short list of game genres below. These are the seemingly most covered genres in media and among the majority of gamers. Firstly introducing the genre of action games. Much like action movies, we would think that it is packed with action! High intensity, and involves drama of sorts. With video games, there are much the same, BUT! packing in with the interactive features that makes you live the game; immersion. Not like once you loose in the game, you loose in real life. But more of the physical requirements of motor-skills and hand-eye coordination. Popular first game titles may be, Pac-Man. And the Grand Theft Auto series. There are of course much more action games then the covered above, and even games that connect more genres than a single genre.

Note: Shedding some light on why one would think of Pac-Man as an action game. In video game history Pac-Man firstly introduces an antagonist and a protagonist. In other words a hero and a villain/villains. In respect to video game history the maker of Pac-Man was inspired by a pizza missing a slice of itself.
Source: http://www.museumofplay.org/about/icheg/video-game-history/timeline

Next into the video game realm, adventure games. It mostly says itself, adventure and such. If you think back to your childhood and exploration days. Or just to venture and roam around in the woods venture and explore. Now that we are older, this type of venture is more covered with video games. Not that you should stop adventuring in real life either. But yes, in video games we trust to explore the unlimited realms of adventures. No limit to how many hours, or how much we would like to explore. Not requiring so much motor-skills, but more deep thinking and with great patience – mixing mysteries and puzzles into and adventures game. Perfect example will include, The Secrets of Monkey Islands. 

Note: Never stop adventuring! 😉 

Keeping up with more genres, strategy game. Much including war games, where one would resemble the general in a strategy based perspective. Usually consist of a overview perspective over a map, like board games. Packing this with a real-time strategy game, much like Warcraft or a turn based strategy game like Civilization.

We continue into the world of Cities:Skylines!

This game is all about city infrastructure. With a 9,2/10 rating on the PC Steam platform, it shows high percentage for a good game. But! the game is quite boring if you do not implement your own creativity and to keep expanding your “empire”. With the inclusion of mods, in other words modification. Even the developers of this game want you to apply and use mods to keep the game alive and well. Check it out on steam!

city skylines gif.gif


One hour, One Life

This game is really interesting. And keeping up with cities and city infrastructure, just like above^. This game goes down to the micro level and looks on the individual in a start of a community. The game takes place in just one hour. Literally one hour. You spawn in, and each minute is one years time in the game. You start as an infant baby, and the first six minutes of the game you are in complete care of other players to nurture you up to youth. From there you can choose to reproduce or choose to get creative and work up a the base level in a city. Just to get it out there, the first line of homo-sapiens did not have any technology of this present era. So you have to start from scratch when you start playing, or actually be born into a society that is already advanced and can nurture you and let you build on their foundation!

Check out the trailer below!


As always! Check me out on twitter! It is alot of PUBG mobile spam these days, sorry about that (not really sorry)! #WinnerWinnerChickenDinner!

Check me out on Twitter!