Why Video Games Matter Symposium


Why do video games matter? Why do they matter to society? Why and how should we teach people to make them and why should video games be in museums? Leeds Trinity University and the National Videogame Museum brought together a fantastic group of people to respond to these questions in a one-day event last week (Wednesday 21 June), at the Videogame Museum in Sheffield.   

Funded by Leeds Trinity’s Research and Knowledge Exchange Support Fund, the Why Video Games Matter symposium inspired a rich debate through a series of short talks and workshops. In the morning, six speakers told us why video games matter to them. Dan Hett and Sarah Unwin from Passenger Games talked about why interactive text games matter for exploring real life and difficult subjects including grief and radicalisation. This theme continued as game maker Lauren O’Donoghue told us why verbs in text games matter for agency, representation, exploration and reflecting personal experiences. 

UKIE’s Daniel Wood told us why video games matter to the UK economy and gave attendees a call to action to develop children, from all backgrounds, into the digital jobs of the future. Esports student, Event Manager and founder of her own ESports company, Shannon Parkes, gave a passionate talk on why video games matter in creating inclusive spaces for women and finally, Liam Lawler from charity Special Effect told us how video games and adaptive technology can transform the lives of disabled players.  

After a lunch there was an opportunity to play some of the historic of games in the museum, the afternoon involved a Leeds Trinity takeover. My colleagues, Senior Lecturers Dr Antesar Shabut, Dr Jason Scott and Liz cable, led a lively conversation on video games in society, culture and entertainment, and how video games can save the world. Delegates responded with a diverse range of comments and counter questions.  

The presentations and conversations will be captured in a text-based adventure game where players can explore the many, many reasons why video games matter. The conversation and contacts made at the event will also feed into a module in our new BA Games Design degree to help our new students understand the impact of games outside their personal worlds of play and making.  

We hope this just the start of a partnership with the National Videogame Museum as we continue to explore the impact of games on our lives.  

To find out more about Leeds Trinity University’s BA in Games Design, visit the website. 

Kathryn Penny is Deputy Head and Digital Screen Media at Leeds Trinity University 

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