Aug 29th and Sep 5th

We are speaking in this two-part online symposium bringing together artists, curators and scholars to explore the expanded concept of game engines. Speakers include Joseph de Lappe, Phoenix Perry, Colleen Macklin, Nick Fortugno, Mattie Brice, Marie-Clare le Blanc Flanagan.

Game engines have been increasingly utilised in a variety of applications, from AI training, VR architectural simulations, to creating artworks. However, most of these uses only consider the game engine as a tool, rather than a medium. Despite the availability of different game engines, we must also consider what sort of thinking a particular engine puts forth. The military provenance of the term ‘engine’ may point towards contentious issues. Engines presuppose infrastructure: the road for the internal combustion engine, the railway for the steam engine. These engines have often entailed colonialism and imperialism, enclosed commons and uncontained emissions. Are there similar considerations at work with game engines, for example in the exploitation of vernacular creativity or the environmental costs of streaming technology? How can artistic work illuminate these concerns? What does it mean for artistic practitioners and theorists to work with, build, and modify game engines today? What can creative works tell us about the nature of contemporary game engines?

We envisage the term ‘engine’ broadly, not just as a technical or commercial product, but as complex, combinatory system that is used to mediate physical and digital objects. In the COVID-19 era, the roles that game engines play has expanded in ways that were difficult to foresee when the original call was written: how have game engines changed in this strange time? What new capabilities and powers are now apparent in digital games and game engines that were

The symposium was originally to take place at Parsons School of Design, New York. Instead, two virtual events will occur on 29th August and 5th September 2020 in Mozilla Hubs (URL available soon). The events will be livestreamed via the Babycastles Twitch stream


Event 1 (Saturday August 29th)

1600 BST/11am EST
Joseph de Lappe in Conversation with Sarah Brin

16.30 BST/11.30am EST
Peter Nelson – ‘Enclosed creativity’
Lukasz Mirocha – Design workflows: engines as universal medium?
Luke Caspar Pearson – Architecture and game engines

BREAK (1/2 hour)

17.30 BST/12.30pm EST
Su Hyun Nam – Game engines as memory-shaping agency
Nicholas O’Brien – Making The Last Survey: Hand-made gestures in experimental game design
James Wilson Malazita – Is the Subject of Light Raced? PBR and the Unreal Engine

1800 BST/2pm EST
Colleen Macklin in conversation with Phoenix Perry

18.30 BST/2.30pm EST
Gibson/Martelli – New performance spaces
Christopher Romero – Artist talk, personal practice
David Gerding – “Who’s the tool?” New paradigms of practice

Event 2 (Saturday 5th September)

1600 BST/11am EST
Marie Foulston in conversation with Adelle Lin

16.30 BST/11.30am EST
Emilie Reed – Videogame engines as tools for mass art
Farzin Lotfijam – Realtime, markets, algorithms, politics
Jung In Jung – Exploring Musical Space with Hand Gestures in Virtual Reality

BREAK (½ hour)

17.30 BST/12.30pm EST
Lee Tusman – ‘Messlife’ – DIY and virtual artist-run spaces
Stewart Wilson –
Maxwell Neely-Cohen – Literature as game engine

1800 BST/2pm EST
Nick Fortugno – The Ethics of 4X Games and the Limits of Procedural Rhetoric
Marie-Claire le Blanc Flanagan – artist talk
Mattie Brice – artist talk
Illya Szilak – Game engines, 3rd wave HCI, and Queerskins 3D

19.20 BST/3.20pm EST
Zoyander Street in conversation with Bo Ruberg