Conference launched with masterclass on designing computer games with real emotional impact

Computer games conference

11 November 2005

David Freeman, Abdennour El Rhalibi, Professor Mark Overmars and Tom Buscaglia Hollywood screenwriter and computer games expert, David Freeman delivered an Oscar winning performance during the opening keynote address at this year's Computer Games and Technology Workshop.

David Freeman gave the audience of industry professionals, academics, researchers and students a masterclass on designing computer games with real emotional impact.  The masterclass is just one of the sessions planned for the two-day international conference.

LJMU helped pioneer computer games technology degrees in the UK and the fact that the University secured David Freeman as a keynote speaker reflects the status of the conference - now in its third year - in the international computer entertainment research scene and gaming industry. 

LJMU's conference organiser Abdennour El Rhalibi said: ''Computer games are big business and this conference puts Liverpool, and LJMU, firmly on the international map as a city bursting with creative talent and in touch with what the computer-based entertainment industry needs.''

Other speakers are equally impressive and include:

  • Tom H. Buscaglia, the Miami-based games attorney and member of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA)
  • Ben Geisler, the Wisconsin-based lead artificial intelligence developer at Radical Entertainment, whose recent credits include many AAA games such Soldier of Fortune 2, X-Men Legends, Jedi Knight 2, Quake 4, The Incredible Hulk: UD, and Scarface.
  • the Dutch gaming expert, Professor Mark H. Overmars (Utrecht University), the creator of the Game Maker software package that is used all over the world for education and fun

Some of the most successful international games and entertainment-related companies and organisations are attending the conference as speakers,delegates, and exhibitors, including Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Electronic Arts, the BBC, The Freeman Group, International Hobo, Onteca, Blitz Games, IGDA, Radical Entertainment, Abundant Software, Nokia, Game Republic, ENNEA and Datascope.   
Gaming is now one of the biggest leisure businesses in the world, with the UK business alone worth £1.15 billion a year. In the last decade, over 25 million gaming devices have been sold in the UK, enough for one device per household. As the sector has grown, so has the complexity and sophistication of the computer games. So much so that the classic 'shoot 'em ups' are being replaced by games as complex and emotionally engaging as films and television programmes.
David Freeman has pioneered an approach called 'EmotioneeringTM', which employs a range of techniques to evoke a breadth and depth of emotion in games, as well as for immersing a player in a role or in the game's virtual reality. He said: ''Putting the player in positions where they have to take tough choices, with real consequences, creates emotional depth in the player. It's similar to how we grow emotionally in real life. If games are going to continue their evolution from mere entertainment to becoming, like the best films, a combination of entertainment and art, then they must start offering meaningful and emotionally rich experiences. When they do, there's a huge untapped audience of film and television viewers who will finally find their way to games.''
The approach obviously works as Freeman has been involved in translating numerous Hollywood blockbusters into top selling games, such as Vivendi-Universal's action-adventure game 'Van Helsing', Activision's 'Shark Tale' and Atari's 'Terminator: Redemption'.
Abdennour El Rhalibi continued: ''This industry embodies some of the most creative and technologically advanced work you can see anywhere in the UK. By bringing players together from different aspects of the games industry and academia, we are promoting debate and collaboration for the benefit of both communities. Such positive interaction with specialists from around the world is vital to the continued development of computer games technology, the research base and courses in the UK and elsewhere.''

Topics covered during the conference include:

  • multiplayer Game Systems
  • navigating large-scale virtual game environments
  • designing accessible video games for visually impaired children
  • tackling the next generation of consoles 
  • mobile gaming
  • how and why we play games
  • the future of computer entertainment - challenges of technology and AI

Around 400 people are expected to attend the two-day conference, which enables students and academics to meet industry professionals and exchange ideas with the people who are shaping the future of the industry and research in computer entertainment. Delegates are expected from across the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, the US, Canada, Italy, Germany, France, Finland, The Netherlands, Mexico, Australia, China, Hong-Kong, and Malaysia, making the conference a real international event.

Pictured: David Freeman, Abdennour El Rhalibi, Professor Mark Overmars and Tom Buscaglia.

Page last modified 22 September 2008.

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