September 3, 2019

LAUNCH: Games Research and Education

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The Institute of Digital Games has relocated and to celebrate the inauguration of its new premises on the 25th September 2019 starting at 10:30AM and continuing throught the day until 7:00PM, it will be showcasing the innovative game research conducted at the institute and the University in addition to some of the exciting projects ongoing in the industry today. It will be a non-stop event exploring the fusion of games with digital humanities and artificial intelligence, the impact of games research, and visions of the future for Malta. We are honoured to have Parliamentary Secretary Hon. Silvio Schembri inaugurating our new premises. We will also have presentations by Dr Gabriel Robert - Lead Gameplay Programmer at Ubisoft, Prof. Georgios Yannakakis - Director of the Institute of Digital Games in addition to the Rector and Gaming Malta and many, many, more.

The event is open to the public from noon onwards. Registration is required. We have set up a Facebook event to mark in your calendar for your convenience.

Game Studies University

The Institute was founded in 2013 and is the centre for research and education in game design, game analysis, and game technology at the University of Malta. Our work is at the forefront of innovative games research. We explore games and play, uncovering new playful and generative possibilities in game design and technology. We delve into everything games can teach us about ourselves.

Our multidisciplinary academic team spans computer science, literature, game design, philosophy, media studies, and social sciences. We are ranked 17th among the best postgraduate programmes to study game design at by the Princeton Review.

While the work is multidisciplinary with game design at the core, the work can be viewed as two separate streams, one pursuing games from the perspective of what is known as game studies and digital humanities, and one pursuing the study of games from an artificial intelligence perspective.

AI and Games

The Institute’s research is at the crossroads of two of the government’s strategies: the National AI Strategy and the Videogame and eSports Strategy. After the keynotes, we’ll have a mix of workshops, talks, and presentations throughout the day. It will be an opportunity to see how the many facets of videogames interlink, overlap, and synergize. Below is the full programme of lectures and the Institute will be open to the public from noon until night.

Digital Game Workshops

Games and Culture - Musical Behaviour in Games

This is a short musicology workshop with an interactive component where audience may try out the Japanese musical game Taiko no Tatsujin – Mr. Costantino Oliva will explain the links between musical behaviour, games, and culture. His research focuses on musical actions in computer games and soundscapes. Check out the short video on his thesis research below:

Is Affective Computing the Future of AI in Video Games? Emotion AI

Affective Computing is the multidisciplinary study of emotions via computational lenses. David Melhart will take the audience through the steps of setting up research experiments that use affective computing and demonstrate the use of various sensors and measurement tools. Combining machine learning with the psychological theory of self-determination allowed David and the AI research team to make accurate motivation models for players of Tom Clancy’s The Division.

Philosophy and Games - The player’s relationship to the gameworld

Dr Daniel Vella has been researching the player-avatar relationship through existential philosophy, and will be delivering a keynote address on the subject in October at the Philosophy of Computer Games conference in October. During this workshop, he will talk about the relationship between players and the avatars they play in virtual worlds. He will be using a VR demo to showcase this relationship in action.

Video Game Research Studies

The Institute of Digital Games, obviously has games research at it’s core, and we will showcase a number of these research projects such as ComNPlay, Autogame, CURIO, eCrisis, Envisage, and Crosscult. But beyond the work done at the Institute, the University of Malta more broadly, does involve games in their research and academic work. Lectures from academics ranging from the Faculty of English, to Cognitive Science, to ICT will be at hand to give quick-fire talks on the work they are doing in relation to games.

We invite you to come check out the Institute of Digital Games in our new premises. Registration is required.

The programme below is mostly confirmed but may be subject to minor adjustments. Please check in before the event if you're interested in joining for only a specific part of the programme.

The Future is Digital: Malta as hub for doing in the digital

Kick-off Speeches

10:30 – Welcome and Introduction - Prof. Georgios Yannakakis, Director Institute of Digital Games

10:40 – Importance of Research at the University of Malta - Prof. Alfred Vella, Rector University of Malta

10:50 - Video Game Strategy Malta - Ivan Filletti, Head of Operations and Business Development for Gaming Malta

11:00 - Inauguration by Hon. Mr. Silvio Schembri, Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation

Institute of Digital Games Research Areas Presentation

11:30- Game Studies - Presence in Game Worlds - Prof. Gordon Calleja

11:45 – Artificial Intelligence – AI-Assisted Game Design – Dr. Antonios Liapis

12:00 – Academic research, a precious partner for innovation - Gabriel Robert, Lead Gameplay Programmer at Ubisoft Montpellier

12:15 – 13:00 - Workshops

Player-Avatar Relationship in VR – Dr. Daniel Vella
Location B (Ground Floor Common Area)

Dr Daniel Vella has been researching the player-avatar relationship through existential philosophy, and will be delivering a keynote address on the subject in October at the Philosophy of Computer Games conference in October. During this workshop, he will talk about the relationship between players and the avatars they play in virtual worlds. He will be using a VR demo to showcase this relationship in action.

Musical Behaviour in Games – Mr. Costantino Oliva
Location C (Game Room)

This is a short musical workshop with an interactive component where audience may try out a variety of music-oriented games – Mr. Costantino Oliva will explain the nature of players' musicality in this digital context. His research focuses on musical activities in computer games and soundscape analysis.

Affective Computing: Emotion AI – Mr. David Melhart

Location A (Main Stage) –Affective Computing is the multidisciplinary study of emotions via computational lenses. David Melhart will take the audience through the steps of setting up research experiments that use affective computing and demonstrate the use of various sensors and measurement tools. Some of the fun and interesting tools the audience will get to see in action are:

  • Demo of Tobii Eyetracker
  • Demo of sensors and measurements
  • Demo of Affectiva face-tracking software

Research Overview Room

Location E - Research Room (Ground Floor Lecture Room)­

The Institute of Digital Games has a large amount of completed research projects and in the space of one day it would be impossible to show them all. To give visitors a snapshot of the research several deliverables will be available to try out as well as some information and videos related to the research. The Institute of Digital Games has developed games and other media for various research projects (H2020, Erasmus+, and smaller grants) and the audience will have a chance to stop by and try these out at their leisure.

13:00 – 14:00 Reception

Location D (Outdoor patio) – Enjoy a selection of finger food and coffee in our outdoor area together with students and researchers to learn more about the game research and game industry in an informal setting.

14:00 – 14:30 – Games and Research at the University of Malta – Microtalks

Quick-fire talks by other Departments at the University involved in Game-related Research and Projects – Chaired by Prof. Yannakakis

14:00 – 14:10 – Language Games and Gaming: Natural Language Processing as a Challenge for Digital Games- Dr. Albert Gatt - Institute of Linguistics and Language Technology

14:10- 14:20 – Digital Games and Literary Studies – Prof. Ivan Callus- Dept. of English

14:30 – 14:40 – Playing with Blockchain – Prof. Gordon Pace – Dept. of Computer Science

14:40 – 14:50 – Using Games to Measure the Mind - Prof. Ian M. Thornton – Dept. of Cognitive Sciences

14:50-15:00 – AI in the Creative Industries – Prof. Alexiei Dingli – Faculty of ICT

15:00 – 15:10 – Digital Creativity Training – Prof. Sandra Dingli and Dr. Leonie Baldacchino - E de Bono Inst. for the Design & Dev of Thinking

15:10 – 15:20 – Digital Arts – Mr. Fabrizio Cali - Faculty of Media & Knowledge Sciences

15:20 – 15:30 – Importance of Research - Prof. Godfrey Badacchino – Faculty of Arts

15:30-15:40 – Towards Real Virtuality – Dr. Keith Bugeja and Dr. Sandro Spina – Faculty of ICT

15:40 - 15:50 - The Malta Biobank Game - Ms. Joanna Vella - Centre for Molecular Medicine and Biobanking

15:50– 16:00 – Break

16:00 – 18:00 – Setting the Scene: Malta’s digital game industry showcase

Location A (Main Stage) – Product presentations and demos and talks by various game studios

Location B (Ground Floor Common Area) – Recruitment and information sessions by various game studios – Open format with different stands place around the IDG. Stands and booths to recruit and inform students.

16:00 – 16:30 – Dorado Games - THE DORADO STORY: Hardcore Online Strategy Made in Malta

16:30 – 17:00 – Playmagic

17:00 – 17:30 – Exient

17:30-18:00 – Mighty Box

18:00-18:30 – (TBA)

18:30 – 19:00 Closing Drinks and Reception

Location B (Ground Floor Common Area) and Location D (Outdoor patio)

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