Video Game Culture Working Group Panel

We are delighted to announce that the Council of Europe’s Video Game Culture Working Group, within the framework of the Digital Citizenship Education project, will contribute to our conference with a panel on Video Game Culture and Creativity organized by the DCE’s Video Game Culture Working Group. More specifically the panel will discuss and address the possibilities in terms of creativity that Video Games can offer in everyday and educational contexts.

November 22, 2022 | Eva Senses hotel, Av. da República 1, Faro, Portugal

Video Game Culture and Creativity

A digital citizen is someone who uses technology safely, ethically and responsibly and who has the ability to engage positively, critically and competently in the digital environment. One who often draws on skills of effective communication and creativity and responsible use of technology, to practice forms of social participation that are respectful of human rights and dignity, through. Being a digital citizen, in other words, means creating, working, sharing, socializing, investigating, playing, communicating and learning with competence and positive engagement in today’s society. It means being able to benefit wisely from the different forms of entertainment that technologies allow by properly balancing one’s own “media diet”.

Video games are among the most popular entertainment industries in the world. It is possible to play games almost everywhere, at almost any time, on almost any kind of device: sitting on the couch with a home console plugged into a television, riding the bus or metro with a portable console, sitting in the back of a classroom toggling on a smartphone, or even while falling asleep in bed with a tablet. They are fun, engaging and designed to capture players’ attention. These factors bring both opportunities but also challenges to the lives of children and young people.

The Council of Europe considers Digital Citizenship Education a key element to nurture a positive, inclusive and effective video game culture for tomorrow’s citizens. The more aware future generations are of the economic models, structures, languages, risks and opportunities within video games, the more it will be possible to build a society that is open and ready to recognise the beauty of this medium, and benefit from it, build better games, and minimise the dangers that video games, as well as other media, can inevitably have.

Promoting a positive video game culture means generating pedagogical reflection around video games: thinking about it as a cultural tool able to foster many facets not only hedonism but also to cognition, learning and development of a person. It also means considering video games worthy of study and accurate and careful analysis of its characteristics, mechanics, and languages.

The panel addresses the possibilities and the potentials that video games can offer in terms of creativity by proposing different points of view. Creativity as a means to foster culture and education for cultural awareness; game tools to foster creativity among players; creativity and self-expression in game cultures outside of games themselves; incentivizing creativity outside of games through games design; creativity in video games for healthcare, rehabilitation and wellbeing; and creativity to address hate speech in video game cultures.

(Panel’s chair) Alessandro Soriani – Department of Education Studies, University of Bologna / Expert consultant for Council of Europe’s Digital Citizenship Education project

  • BIO: Alessandro Soriani is a PhD in Pedagogical Sciences and in Information and Communication Studies (title obtained at the University of Bologna’s Department of Education Studies, in joint supervision with École Doctorale 276 – Arts et Médias of the Sorbonne-Nouvelle Paris 3). He is a senior researcher at the Bologna’s Department of Education Studies, and his researches explore the influence of relationships that develop within digital environments on the social climate of learning environments and the development of inclusive school’s policies in contexts of social-violence. His scientific interests are ICT and media in educational and pedagogical contexts. He works as consultant for the Council of Europe’s Digital Citizenship Education Project. He also works as teacher trainer and facilitator for youth’s participatory processes.
  • CONTRIBUTION: introduction about COE’s work about Digital Citizenship Education (DCE) and Video Game Culture (VGC).
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Andrew Burn - UCL Institute of Education, UCL London Global University

  • BIO: Dr Andrew burn is Professor of English, Media and Drama at University College London. He is Director of the ReMAP research centre (Research in Media Arts and Play), and has conducted a range of research projects on videogames and game design, including the development of the game authoring software tool Missionmaker. He is a former member of the EC Expert Group on Media Literacy. His most recent book is Literature, Videogames and Learning (Routledge, 2021).
  • CONTRIBUTION: Creativity, Culture and game design in schools
  • SYNOPSIS: Games in education are rarely included as an object of study in their own right, rather than as a form of e-learning, or a technical exercise in coding. At the same time, in the Arts and literacy curricula, they are often seen as opposed to elite cultural forms. This presentation will draw on an intervention in a London school in which 14 year-old students designed their own games based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth using the bespoke software Missionmaker Macbeth. It demonstrates that this kind of cultural engagement with canonical literary texts can co-exist with creative design in popular media, and that the nature of ludic design provokes both new kinds of identity play and new insights into these kinds of literary text.
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Mikko Meriläinen - Tampere University Game Research Lab

  • BIO: Mikko Meriläinen, PhD, is a postdoctoral researcher at Tampere University Game Research Lab, working in the Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies, funded by the Academy of Finland. In his work, Meriläinen is currently exploring youth gaming cultures, adulthood and masculinities in digital gaming, hostile online behaviour, and miniaturing.
  • CONTRIBUTION: More than playing games – creativity and self-expression in game cultures
  • SYNOPSIS: Digital gaming is typically discussed through the act of playing games. However, game cultures offer many other avenues for creativity and self-expression. Players expand game narratives through fan fiction, draw, re-imagine, and dress up as their favourite character, and modify both games and the machines they’re played on. Games themselves can also be used in creative ways, from virtual tourism to creating nature documentaries. In this presentation we take a look at these diverse creative practices.
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Lobna Hassan, Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology

BIO: Dr. Lobna Hassan, PhD, is Associate Professor of Sociotechnical Transitions in Services at Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland. She leads SIA Lab, where research is conducted on the Sustainability, Inclusivity and Accessibility of technology. She received her PhD from Hanken School of Economics, Finland and her BSc and MSc from the German University in Cairo, Egypt with high honours. She has published in internationally recognized venues, including User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction, Government Information Quarterly, Simulation & Gaming and Information and Software Technology. Dr Hassan also works in collaboration with several societal and business actors internationally within her interests around inclusion, accessibility, gamification, storification, and civic engagement. Her work and publications can be found at

CONTRIBUTION: Incentivizing creativity through game design

SYNOPSIS: One of the most discussed cases where games were not only used as a tool to foster creativity but also to advance science and improve mankind is the case of Foldit. When scientists were faced with a complex data analysis problem that could only be figured out through human intelligence, they launched Foldit; a game where science-uninitiated players engaged with complex DNA structures and solved the case – Curtis 2015. The question has then become, how do we replicate this remarkable case? Indeed games can foster creativity, but how? The answer is complex. Games or gamification can provide tools but how we utilize those tools is highly subjective and depends on a host of factors (Landers et al., 2018). Much research has been conducted on this topic indicating that perhaps collaborative, social design, where purpose and meaning are highly emphasized could be the way to go (Hassan et al., 2019) but we are along way from fully figuring out the creativity puzzle.


·         Curtis, Vickie (2015). Motivation to Participate in an Online Citizen Science Game: A Study of Foldit. Science Communication 37.6: 723–46. 

·         Hassan, L., Deterding, S., Harviainen, J. T., & Hamari, J. (2019). Fighting Post-truth with Fiction: An Inquiry into Using Storification and Embodied Narratives for Evidence-Based Civic Participation. Storyworlds, 11(11), 51–78.

·         Landers, R. N., Auer, E. M., Collmus, A. B., & Armstrong, M. B. (2018). Gamification Science, Its History and Future: Definitions and a Research Agenda. Simulation & Gaming, 49(3), 315–337.

Per Stromback - Swedish Games Industry

  • Per Stromback – Swedish Game Developers Federation
    • BIO: Per Strömbäck takes interest in digital culture, now in his fourth decade in the games industry as game developer and -publisher, and since 2005 heading the industry association Swedish Games Industry. In parallel, Per has engaged in the theory of digital culture and its economy as editor of Netopia – a web magazine and forum on the digital society. Published author of two books and editor of two anthologies on digital culture and society.He is level 968 on Candy Crush Saga.
    • CONTRIBUTION: Democratization of Game Tools and the Rise of the Player-Creator
    • SYNOPSIS: Games are by nature interactive and rely on the player(s) to come alive. Game creators have a tradition of sharing development tools with the players, allowing them to design characters, levels, various assets and more. Some cases take this further, for example Counter-Strike – one of the most popular e-sports games of all time – was first made as a modification (“mod”) of Valve’s 1998 single-player title Half-Life, made by players Minh Le and Jess Cliffe in 1999. In the last decade, popular games such as Minecraft and Roblox have made the idea of the game as a toolkit for the player’s creative projects their core consumer offer. More recent startups such as Hiber and Fancade further explore this trend. In an unrelated development, the professional tools for making games, in particular the software Unity have become cheaper, easier and more accessible. The combined trends of new consumer offers and democratised development tools may predict a shift in how digital games are played and made.

Anthony Lewis Brooks (aka Tony), CREATE department, Aalborg University, Denmark.

    • BIO: Born into a family with disabled members, early interactions led to improvised ‘inventions of empowerment’ alongside tacit/implicit knowledge development that contributed to framing Brooks’ current research profile. Engineering degrees, and a doctorate under The University of Sunderland’s Arts, Media, Design, and Communication (AMDC) program aligned to a developing artist portfolio of national/international interactive art/digital media cybernetic installations and performances (e.g., CIA London in 1978; exhibitions at leading MoMAs; two Olympics/Paralympics; European Culture Capitals, etc.). Parallel applied research exploring potentials of self-created bespoke virtual interactive environments, i.e., digital multimedia content (e.g., interactive music, visuals, video computer games, and robotics) and invisible sensor technologies, conceived as an alternative intervention to supplement traditional (re)habilitation in healthcare, cross-informed. The inter/transdisciplinary research was featured in the European Year for the Brain (1995), leading to a six-year-residency at the top clinic for Rehabilitation for Brain Injury in Denmark alongside applied practices at related institutions. Brooks was the first resident artist at Denmark’s Advanced Visualisation and Interaction (CAVI) facility at Aarhus University, and researcher at RE-FLEX multidisciplinary centre in Lund University in Sweden where at both locations he led European Commission funded projects based upon his research. This unique independent pioneering avant-garde independent research from the mid-eighties led to patents on method and apparatus; an industry start-up; national and international projects; national and international awards; – and was catalyst, around the turn-of-the-century, to a university education start-up titled Medialogy – a leading trainer of video game developers in Scandinavia under which, around the turn of the century, Brooks founded, designed, funded, and directed ‘The SensoramaLab’ – a Video Games, Virtual/Alternative Reality/Virtual Production, and human behaviours/(re)habilitation complex aligned to a goal of societal contribution. Brooks currently has around 250 publications including eleven books. He has steered ArtsIT since 2009 and is on the coordination group of the Council of Europe Video Games Culture initiative.
    • CONTRIBUTION: Video Games, Virtual Reality, and Associated Technologies in Healthcare, (Re)habilitation, and Wellbeing: (How such technologies are educated, created, and applied towards next-generation [Health 5.0 and beyond] interventions aligned to digital wellness)
    • SYNOPSIS: An overview brief presentation to open the audience’s minds of how Video Games and related technologies are used in the field; the innate potentials (where there is still much to investigate); alongside examples of how they are educated, created, and applied in the field under the Medialogy education at Aalborg University towards creating and stimulating next-generation game-developers to working closely with healthcare professionals towards advancing the genre with aligned societal contribution and impact with (hopefully) successful student vocations/spin-out companies. A reflection will be shared on how healthcare professionals are understanding how video games are a unique form of entertainment because they encourage players to become part of the script. Although video games have been available for more than 30 years, today’s sophisticated options require players to pay constant attention to the game. Players engage on a deeper level physically and emotionally than people watching a movie or TV do. Many psychologists and scientists believe that playing video games offers some benefits, particularly by teaching higher-level and abstract thinking skills. Playing video games changes the brain’s physical structure, similar to the way the brain changes when a person learns to play the piano or read a map. The brain is a muscle and can be built up with exercise. The combination of concentration and neurotransmitter surges when playing games helps to strengthen neural circuits, giving the brain a real workout. Playing a video game, especially using alternative invisible interfaces that differ in control to a typical mouse, keyboard, or joystick, can also motivate a player to move in ways that are useful in therapeutic physical training (re)habilitation intervention where players/patients have been reported as moving and performing beyond prior limitations through the innate motivation of the genre. This talk reflects contribution to an upcoming manifesto reflecting the COE holistic Video Games Culture that is proposed to include a sub-publication document titled “EDUCATING FOR A VIDEO GAME CULTURE ASSOCIATED TO (RE)HABILITATION: A MAP FOR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS, EDUCATORS/STUDENTS, PEOPLE WITH IMPAIRMENT OR IN REHABILITATION, THE ELDERLY, AND FAMILY MEMBERS”. A goal is contribution to the challenges in future Digital Citizenship educations across associated contextual disciplines, alongside supporting related applied research and practices where potentials of such ‘Technologies for Inclusive Wellbeing’ (Brooks et al, 2014, 2017, 2021) are optimized and where aspects of accessibility and inclusion are not ignored, as is the case for many contemporary Video Games (see Brooks 2017).
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