When the game gets serious

Ludology? What is that? Everyone knows biology, psychology and philosophy. After the founding of the Institute for Ludology at the design akademie berlin, SRH Hochschule für Kommunikation und Design, we saw questioning faces. "What are you doing?" Others were embarrassed by the alleged ambiguity. Players and gamers, however, had a different reaction: "Hey! Great! Exciting! Finally!"

The Latin "ludus", means the game, and the Greek "logos" means teaching, leading to "teaching about the game", ludology, or game studies.

In recent years, the focus of game studies has been on digital games. This led to questions about gameplay (game mechanics), game design, learning games, virtual worlds, artificial intelligence or even impact research, which asks about the influence of computer games.

We regard playing as a culturally shaping or even culturally creative component. What can we learn about games that has an application for other disciplines? Our claim comprises a transdisciplinary research approach.

"In short, it is about dealing with the given (culture and its demands on the individual), the desired (the individually deficient) and the potential (the culturally deficient); it is thus also about the function of games as culturally serious games."1

Based on this assumption, we, scientists, at the Institute of Ludology analyze not only games but also social systems and disclose their regulatory orders and implemented rules of play with the help of game studies approaches. Building on this, we transfer the mechanisms and principles tested in game systems to other social systems, companies, institutions or even social issues. The team of the Institute of Ludology develops solutions and recommendations for effective strategies in a fast-moving age, based on this game-scientific approach.

Our core competencies are in the following areas:

The Institute of Ludology is currently working on the following questions:

a) What is a game? Which game theories offer models of explanation and decision making that can be relevant and transferred into other subject areas?
b) What can companies, especially startups, learn from game developers?
c) Game Studies and Game Design: Can digital game worlds become the leading medium?
d) How can innovation processes in companies be improved by applying the criteria of successful game mechanisms?
e) What's the action plan to counteract the low voter turnout and the problem of a shortage of young people in political parties?
f) How do "serious games" or news games help process information in a comprehensible way and provide an incentive to actively deal with the news?

1] Tan, Wey-Han (2011): Funktionen des Spiels: Ideologisierung, Training, Bewältigung, Resilienz. (Functions of the game: ideologization, training, coping, resilience.) [online] http://blogs.epb.uni-hamburg.de/metagames/2011/10/29/funktionen-des-spiels-ideologie-training-bewaltigung-resilienz/[accessed on 18.11.2015].