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"Kulturgut Computerspiel..." - "Computer Games as Cultural Artifacts

International conference on 14 and 15 September 2017 at the Red town hall Berlin

The conference was to discuss the implications of interpreting computer games as cultural artefacts.
Conference program (print)


Public debates about computer games initially focused on youth protection or on economic questions. Later on, these discussions started to address their status as cultural artifacts. At first, this position came inevitably with a question mark at the end of the statement, but that was dropped somewhere along the way. So, we may safely assume that today computer games certainly count as integral to our culture.
However, what does it mean if we seriously adopt this position? What new social and economic responsibilities do follow, if we consider games to be more than just children’s toys? What kinds of institutional structures do we need to maintain this part of our cultural heritage and keep it available for future generations? What new forms of moral and social responsibilities does the games industry have to face as a consequence of technological developments such as Virtual Reality or with regard to new models of promoting culture?
We want to address such issues on the conference “Kulturgut Computerspiel...” (Computer Games as Cultural Artifacts) and we want to focus on three main themes: namely preserving the games and keeping them accessible, secondly promoting or funding them and finally specific ethical problems in this context. These strands are much more interconnected than appears at first sight. For both the issue of preserving games and funding or promoting them have an essential ethical dimension, too. Nobody will doubt that commemorating historical processes and events touches on moral questions or that any funding decision will be based on cultural values. Another interconnection is the very fact that we assume that what is being funded or supported today should also be maintained in the future.
Connecting theoretical and practical approaches will be core theme, so that the conference will reach its audience also by striving for solving of the issues raised. Thanks to its interdisciplinary focus the conference “Kulturgut Computerspiel...” will deliver new food for thought and help clarifying the ways in which we want to deal with games as cultural artifacts in the future.

The opening event on Thursday, 14 September 2017, will be held in German. The schedule for the eight panels on Friday, 15 September 2017, has four couplings where one is in German and English so that all visitors can choose between a presentation held in German and one in English.

The conference is taking place under the auspices of Berlin Senator of Culture Dr. Klaus Lederer and is made possible by funds from Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung. It is supported by BIU – Bundesverband Interaktive Unterhaltungssoftware and Deutscher Kulturrat, further partners are GAME Bundesverband der deutschen Games-Branche, Stiftung digitale Spielekultur, International Games Week Berlin, A Maze and EFGAMP. Media partners are "Politik & Kultur", Ströer Media Brands, GameStar and ZDFinfo.
PROGRAM | 14.09.2017, 17:00 to 24:00

16:00 | Admittance

17:00 | Beginning

> Welcoming and introduction to the conference
Organiser Computerspielemuseum

> Welcoming address
Olaf Zimmermann (German Culture Council)

> Welcoming address
Felix Falk (CEO Federal Association of Interactive Entertainment Software, BIU)

> Keynote "Computer games as cultural artifacts - some theses"
Dr. Henry Lowood (Stanford Libraries)

18:00 | Food and drinks

18:45 | Keynote "Kulturgut Half-Real? Die gesellschaftliche Bedeutung des Massenmediums Computerspiel"
Prof. Dr. Jeffrey Wimmer (Augsburg University)

19:10 | Performance NEURO SPACE
pataphysical play and Neuro-space. Historische Konsolen replayed.
Einführender Vortrag von Prof. Dr. Margarete Jahrmann

Roleplay Szene "Neuro-space" and "Neuro-experiment auf Computerspace Konsole"
Samuel Dématraz, Margarete Jahrmann, Herwig Kopp, Thomas Wagensommerer


19:30 | Round of talks "Social responsibilities"

Moderation: Marcus Richter


> Olaf Zimmermann (German Culture Council)
> Prof. Dr. Linda Breitlauch (University of Applied Sciences Trier)
> Thomas Krüger (German Federal Agency for Civic Education)
> Felix Falk (Federal Association of Interactive Entertainment Software, BIU)
> Andreas Lange (Computerspielemuseum)

Afterwards | Get-together with drinks
Opportunity to take part in the performance NEURO-SPACE
PROGRAM | 10:00 to 18:00

09:30 | Admittance

10:00 to 11:30

> Panel Computer games and teaching ethics (german)
Researchers as well as people working in the practical field will be discussing ethical questions connected with games and how these can be integrated into educational contexts.
Moderation: Marcus Richter

> Andreas Schöffmann (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
> André Weßel (Technical University of Cologne)
> Tobias Knoll (Religious Scholar, Heidelberg University)
> Thorsten Unger (IJsfontein Interactive Media GmbH)

> Talk Global collections (english)
Recognizing a particular form of practice as culturally significant will inevitably lead to the issue of keeping it available. This talk has professionals and curators from different collections reporting on their motives, their problems and the challenges they have to face. This is to emphasize similarities and to strengthen both synergies and potential for co-operations and to define more effective structures for preservation internationally.
Moderation: Dennis Kogel

> Jakob Moesgaard (Royal Library, Denmark)
> Bengt Olof Agetoft (National Library of Sweden)
> Dr. Henry Lowood (Stanford Libraries)
> Prof. Dr. Hosoi Koichi (Ritsumeikan University)
> Niklas Nylund (The Finnish Museum of Games)

12:00 to 13:30

> Talk Preservation, access and the legal dimension (german)
Which legal adjustments are necessary to be able to preserve the heritage of digital games and keep it accessible? This panel discusses restrictions of copyright, orphaned works and the possible future role of collecting societies.
Moderation: Marcus Richter

> Ramak Molavi (, GAME Bundesverband der deutschen Games-Branche)
> RA Dr. Christian-Henner Hentsch (Deutscher Medienrat, Kölner Forschungsstelle für Medienrecht, Federal Association of Interactive Entertainment Software, BIU)

> Talk Promoting and funding production (english)
Different forms of funding or promoting traditional cultural artifacts such as films or literature were established long ago. Supporting computer games is, on the other hand, a rather recent achievement. This talk will focus on special funding systems, all of which are legitimized by stressing the cultural value of games. These forms of promotion were established some time ago in France and the United Kingdom, whereas such an initiative, which was triggered by the games industry itself, was established in Germany only last year.
Moderation: Dennis Kogel

> Dr. Jo Twist (Ukie, UK Interactive Entertainment)
> Jakub Marszałkowski (Game Industry Conference Poznan, Indie Games Polska)
> Felix Falk (Federal Association of Interactive Entertainment Software, BIU)
> Pauline Augrain (CNC cenrte national du cinéma et de l'image animée)

13:30 to 14:30 | Catering

14:30 to 16:00

> Panel Global gaming cultures (english)
Although computer games have been seen as a global medium from the 1970s on, they also were able to carry regional cultural or social meanings. The panel is to define some of these cultural factors and to discuss the ways in which they influence the design of games as well as the playing action.
Moderation: Dennis Kogel

> James Newman und Iain Simons (National Video Game Archive UK)
> Solip Park (Nexon Computer Museum Korea)
> Ahmad Ahmadi ( / Game Expert Iran)

> Talk Virtual Reality and Responsibility (german)
Compared to traditional games played onscreen, Virtual Reality allows for completely new sensual experiences. It did not take long for the first complaints about harassment during VR-multiplayer games to materialise. We must discuss whether the rules of conduct for VR have to adapted or whether even new legislation is necessary. Here, the comparison with live roleplaying – a format that for some time has merged elements from gaming with experiences in real life – seems appropriate.
Moderation: Marcus Richter

> Anna Gröhn (Journalist)
> Thomas Bedenk (consultant for VR)
> Dennis Lange (Waldritter e.V.)

16:00 to 16:30 | Catering

16:30 to 18:00

Panel How shall we proceed? Future perspectives (german)
Experts from libraries and institutions for preservation describe the current state of affairs with regard to the accessibility of the digital cultural heritage and they delineate future requirements and desirables.
Moderation: Marcus Richter

> Dr. Sebastian Möring (ICBB - Internationale Computerspielesammlung Berlin Brandenburg, University of Potsdam)
> Dr. Manuel Seitenbecher (Berlin Central and Regional Library)
> Stefan Ziller (Die Grünen, Member of the Berlin Parliament)

> Talk Ideology and politics in conjunction with computer games (english)
While movies were soon seen in their potential to transmit political or ideological messages, it is only the increasingly world-wide discussions that alert us to the fact, that games, too, contain implicit ideological meanings. The round of talks is to glance beyond the threshold of our customary understanding of computer games as products of Western civilization and will discuss possibilities of how games can contribute to a peaceful dialogue between members of different cultural regions and how they can alert players to certain political contexts.
Moderation: Dennis Kogel

> Uri Mishol (Games for peace, Israel)
> Konstantin Kaiser (planpolitik)
> Saud al-Zaid (BGSMCS Freie Universität Berlin)
Karl-Marx-Allee 93a
10243 Berlin

Phone (visitor service):
+49 30 6098 8577