When the game turns serious

Game theory? “What’s that?” Everyone knows the theories of biology, psychology and philosophy. Following the founding of the Institute for Game Theory at the SRH University for Communication and Design (design akademie berlin), we were met with a lot of confused faces. “What are you doing?” Others were embarrassed by the reputed double meaning. Games and gamers were met with surprise. “Hey, great, exciting, finally!”

Latin “ludus”, the game” and the Greek “logos” for teaching leads to “teaching about the game” or “ludology”, also known as game theory.

In recent years, the focus of game theory has been on digital games. This gave rise to questions about the themes of gameplay (game mechanics), game design, learning games, virtual worlds, artificial intelligence and also impact research which observes the influence of computer games.

We view play as something which shapes or even creates our culture. What can we learn from games or with games, in or for other disciplines? We aspire to a transdisciplinary research approach.

“In a nutshell, it’s about dealing with the circumstances (the culture and its requirements of the individual), what is desired ( what is specifically deficient) and the potential ( what is culturally deficient); it is therefore also about the function of games as culturally serious games.”1

Based on this conjecture, the scientists at the Institute for Ludology analyse not just games but also social systems and disclose their regulative systems and implemented rules of play with the aid of game-theoretical concepts. Building on this, we transfer mechanisms and principles tested in game systems into other social systems, companies, institutions or social situations. From game-theoretical approach, the team at the Institute for Ludology develop problem-solving approaches and recommended actions for effective strategies in fast-moving times.

Our core skills are in the following areas:

Change management and innovation processes

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

a) What is a game? Which game theories offer nourishing explanatory and decision models for transfer into other areas?

b) What can companies and special start-ups learn from games developers?

c) Game studies and game design: Can digital games world become main media?

d) How can innovation processes in companies be improved with the criteria of successful games mechanisms?

e) Which recommended actions govern low voter turnout and the problem of succession in parties? 

f) How do serious games, or news games, help to prepare information in a comprehensible way and provide impetus for active analysis?

[1] Tan, Wey-Han (2011): Functions of play: Ideologisation, training, mastery, resilience. [online] http://blogs.epb.uni-hamburg.de/metagames/2011/10/29/funktionen-des-spiels-ideologie-training-bewaltigung-resilienz/ [consulted on 18/11/2015].