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.”


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.