Course Catalogue

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Course Catalogue WS 2023/24

Playing Nature – Embracing the messiness

Specialist seminar
WS 22/23
Target group
Main course / Diploma 2

Dates - place & time

27.10.2219.01.23ThursdayWöchentlich14:00 - 17:00Witschgasse 9-11, Atelier Transmedialer Raum
from-to14:00 - 17:00
LocationWitschgasse 9-11, Atelier Transmedialer Raum

Seminar description

Nature is a reoccurring topic throughout a large variety of games, ranging from triple A-titles that display beauty and awe with slick frame rates, to the more experimental play experiences in Indie gaming. In this seminar, we will look at flora and fauna as a phenomenon in video games. As a starting point, we will draw on the representation of different aspects of nature within game worlds: From the creation of photorealistic forest environments, over the staging of catastrophes and the forces of nature as design elements, to the representation of individual plants and animals and their roles as the representatives of livelihood in an artificial landscape.

Following North-American philosopher Ian Bogost, play can be rendered as a general access to the world we live in – with a magic circle that has become brittle and a perpetual renegotiation of the rules for our game. We will try to understand play not as something that is detached from the world, but rather as something that takes in an active perspective in the eye of climate change, the mass extinction of animals or the individual losses of a dearly loved tree. In this grim reality we will use play as modus to bare our coming loss and to survive on our damaged planet.

Throughout the seminar we hopefully find answers collectively to challenging questions:

How can we as artists use the language of games as a specific form of protest and activism?

How can we stage media in a playful fashion that will counter-narrate the green-washed stories of filthy cooperate identities?

How can we display not only the beauty of nature but also its wonderful messiness?

And maybe more zoomed-in: What is it like to be a dying forest dried out by the players of global fossil fuels?

Literature list:

  • Bogost, Ian. 2007. Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames. The MIT Press Ser. Cambridge: MIT Press.

  • Chang, Alenda Y. 2020. Playing nature. Ecology in video games. Electronic mediations 58. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

  • Gray, Kishonna L. und David J. Leonard, Hrsg. 2018. Woke Gaming: Digital Challenges to Oppression and Social Injustice. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

  • Head, Lesley. 2016. Hope and Grief in the Anthropocene: Re-Conceptualising Human-Nature Relations. Routledge research in the Anthropocene. London, New York: Routledge.

Student office

Karin Cordes

Juliane Schwibbert

Katrin Seiniger

Claudia Warnecke

Heumarkt 14

50667 Köln

Tel.: +49 221 20189 - 194 /

119 / 187 / 249

Opening hours: Mondays + Tuesdays from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m.    -    4 p.m.

For enquiries or appointments, please call us, Mon - Thu 9.30 to 1 p.m., or send us an e-mail.

Summer semester 2024

Lecture period:
​​​​​​​Apr. 8, 2024 until Jul. 19, 2024

Winter semester 2024/25

Lecture period:
​​​​​​​Oct. 21, 2024 until Feb. 14, 2025

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