THATCamp IMMERSe a success!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

THATCamp IMMERSe was a three-day weekend of workshops, unconference sessions, game play and game design hosted by the Games Institute in partnership with the IMMERSe Research Network for Video Game Immersion, and inspired by THATCamp Games. The event brought together theorists and practitioners of game studies and the digital humanities, game developers and designers, games enthusiasts and advocates, and humanities instructors and scholars interested in games, pedagogy, and player experience. Participants discussed, debated, critiqued, created, and played games through the weekend's activities.

THATCamp IMMERSe took place in Kitchener-Waterloo from July 12th-14th. Friday's series of workshops were held in the aesthetic Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) campus in the heart of uptown Waterloo. The morning's featured events included a workshop on Locative Augmented Reality gaming by THATCamp lead organizer Lauren Burr, and a workshop on board game simulation by Games Institute and IMMERSe director Dr. Neil Randall. The afternoon's series of events subsequently included a workshop on Brain Computer Interfacing Applications by Josh Garofalo and Linus Shu, a workshop on Cobble Cards Game Design by Rob Parker, and a Gamification workshop given by Jana Zacharias.

Saturday's unconference sessions were held in the Kitchener City Hall Rotunda, and included a session on ethics in videogame design, original videogame presentations ("Ship Wars" by Elise Visit and "Shakespeareoke!" by Kirk Zurell), an unconference titled "Library Gamification and Marker Spaces" by Andrew McAlorum , and a session on sexuality, violence, and women in gaming communities. The unconference sessions sparked several discussions on important topics including contemporary gaming culture, ethics, racism, and sexism in games, the principles of effective gameful design, and more. Participants were able to exchange ideas, learn from one another, and form valuable academic and professional relationships. 

Sunday's THATCamp IMMERSe activities were held at THEMUSEUM in Kitchener. The entire day was devoted to showcasing and playing the most popular modern and vintage video games. The exhibition was appropriately named "Get IMMERSed"; several consoles (including Playstation 1s, 2s, and 3s, Nintendo Wiis, Xbox-360s, original Nintendos, and more) and a multi-terminal Artemis play-station were set up within THEMUSEUM's interior. Other featured games included Duck Hunt, Super Mario Bros., Mario Tennis, Wii Sports, Prince of Persia, Spyro, Spiderman Alliance, Halo 3, Pong, Little Big Planet, several versions of Sonic the Hedgehog from various gaming eras, and many, many more. The day's events were open to the public, and museum attendees were invited to take part in the game play and engage with the Kitchener-Waterloo gaming community. The afternoon also featured a THATCamp design jam, with the resultant game concept to be developed by a team of Games Institute- and IMMERSe-affiliated game designers, together with THEMUSEUM, for an upcoming fall exhibition.

In short, the event was a huge success; THATCamp IMMERSe attendees formed meaningful bonds that will give rise to productive interdisciplinary collaborations in the near future. The workshops and unconference sessions sparked an exchange of innovative ideas that participants will take with them to their respective academic and professional outposts. Ultimately, the weekend's series of events will pave the way for continued innovation and advancement in the Canadian gaming community. 

Event photos can be found on the Gallery page.

THATCamp IMMERSe lead organizer Lauren Burr gives her opening address