Nathalie Lawhead

Nathalie Lawhead is a net-artist and game designer that has been creating experimental digital art since the late 90’s. Past works include titles such as the IGF winning Tetrageddon Games, “Everything is going to be OK”, and the Electric Zine Maker. Their work was recently featured in the collection of MoMA in New York. They have been creating experimental digital art for over 20 years.


From monopolies to tiny tools by solo devs

 

Freeware and shareware have existed since the beginning of software. Software is art, and an empowering conduit for unending creative experimentation on computers. This is a discussion about the large and largely underrepresented space of tool development from solo devs, individual artists, or tiny teams. In light of recent controversies surrounding AI, and how larger mainstream software is being criticized for its missteps, we will explore why the small tool space matters more than ever in the broad spectrum of internet culture, games, and tech.

Aleena Chia

University of London

Aleena Chia is a lecturer in Media, Communications and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London. She researches ideologies of creativity in videogame production and digital wellness, using textual and ethnographic methods to examine meanings of personhood and the politics of automation in relation to work and play. Her research on videogames analyses game engines and production cultures. Her work on wellness investigates lucid dreaming, neuro-wearables, and disconnection from social media. She is co-author of Technopharmacology (Meson/University of Minnesota Press, 2022) and co-editor of Reckoning with Social Media (Rowman and Littlefield, 2022). Her work is published in Convergence, Media Theory, Television and New Media, Internet Policy Review, among others. Before joining Goldsmiths, she was an assistant professor at Simon Fraser University and a postdoctoral researcher at the Academy of Finland’s Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies.


Race-Making in Real-Time 3D

 

Reality is being captured to automate the work of creating 3D game worlds. Framed as more efficient than traditional 3D modelling, these ‘Reality Capture’ techniques extend to human 3D scanning that use photogrammetry to match up points of interest across multiple scans of physical objects, compositing scans into 3D meshes for computational manipulation. While the dominant aspiration for human beauty on social media is smoothness and symmetry, the benchmark for quality in digital humans is texture and irregularity. Within the visual economy of hyperreal videogames, imperfection imparts ‘character’ to artificial beings, enhancing their capacity to engage, influence, and entertain. Requiring more resources to model, visual character can now be synthesised from databases of diverse facial features, skin tones, and hair textures captured from photogrammetric scans of real humans. Predominantly white makers of digital human tools such as Epic Games’ MetaHuman Creator promote how blending from their ‘diverse series of presets’ empowers equitable character creation. Scholars of ‘post-race’ call out these practices as diversity surfing, which casts race as a cosmetic rather than political category, producing compliant digital humans who stand in for black and creators of colour. Building on critical race studies of biometrics and facial recognition technologies, I analyse how digital human tools misrecognise the mathematical facticity and optical veracity of photogrammetric databases. These tools disaggregate the lived experience of race and the fraught politics of diversity into statistical variability. This talk argues that this form of race-making – and unmaking – is attributable to game engines as a software framework. Just as game engines partition base systems such as physics and rendering from gameplay modules, photogrammetric tools extend an understanding of race that segregates core technologies from peripheral assets: the control rig of human kinesiology is insulated as proprietary function, while the ‘ever-growing library of variants of human appearance’ is relegated as fungible asset. As game development incorporates generative AI techniques that increasingly rely on photogrammetric and synthetic data, the stakes of game engines go beyond representing race in games to shaping cultural understandings of racial coherence, order, and difference.

Kate Compton

Dr. Kate Compton (galaxykate) is a generative artist, inventor, programmer. She generated planets for Spore, made Tracery which ran 200,000 community-made bots on Twitter and invented the first phone-based AR. Her longtime personal mission is to bring small and playful forms of AI to poets, artists, kids and weirdos.


Terrible together – how AI can make us comfortable being creative

 

Everyone knows that karaoke isn’t about sounding good – it’s about sounding terrible together. The same goes for being bad at Pictionary, Jackbox games, dancing or improv. Society usually celebrates virtuosic creativity: grand composers or great artists who make important art. But much of human creative activity is about the process of creation, not the product. Since we make creative things for fun, to learn, as therapy, and especially as a social activity, can computers take on the role of a facilitator of creative play?  How can we make AI a better party host and encouraging art teacher so that we humans can have all the creative fun?

Alice Rendell

Alice Rendell

Massive Enteratainment -A Ubisoft Studio

Elisa Rosso

Elisa Rosso

Ubisoft Milan

Alice Rendell is a Narrative Systems Designer with 15 years of experience, currently working at Massive Entertainment – A Ubisoft Studio, on the upcoming Star Wars Outlaws. She has worked on a variety of games including Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, The Descendant, and JRPG Zodiac: Orcanon Odyssey. Since joining Ubisoft Alice has helped design new narrative tools for the Snowdrop Engine, including the animation tool GENIE.

Elisa Rosso started her career in children’s book publishing, before moving to video games development in 2021 when she joined Ubisoft Milan. In her current role as a Narrative Designer, she worked on Mario + Rabbids Spark of Hope and the upcoming Star Wars Outlaws.


GENIE: A Ubisoft Tool for Narrative Iteration

 

Ubisoft develops big open-world games that need to be filled with believable characters. But as the worlds get bigger, so do the dependencies on our narrative teams. GENIE was created to support writers by procedurally generating animations directly from dialogue, allowing them to focus on iterating and editing for quality.

Elisa Di Lorenzo

elisa_dilorenzo

Untold Games

Giuseppe Cicala

cicala

Untold Games

Graduated in Computer Science at the Università degli Studi di Genova, Elisa Di Lorenzo is the Co-Founder and CEO of Untold Games, a company with more than 10 years of experience in content creation and consultancy for the creative industries with Unreal Engine. With a past as a programmer and producer behind her, today Elisa leads the studio and supervises business development.

Dr. Giuseppe Cicala is a highly motivated Computer Engineer with a PhD in Robotics, Computer Engineer and Electronics. Before joining Untold Games, Dr. Giuseppe Cicala has thrived in an academic environment for 10 years, conducting research at the forefront of software verification. His focus is on studying and applying formal methods for the automatic verification and testing of robotic control systems.


Adaptive gameplay and storytelling in City 20

 

City 20 is a sandbox survival game characterized by an adaptive environment with a full ecosystem simulation and procedurally generated storytelling that will be released in Early Access later this year. Our objective is to create an experience that feels unique to each player by leveraging the gameplay that naturally emerges from the game’s deep systems and simulations.
In our talk we will describe some of these systems, as well as which implementations worked and which did not during the development of this highly experimental project.

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