December 11, 2020

"Not your grandmother's intellectual" - Philosophy In (and Through) Games

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The Institute of Digital Games Digital Humanities Research Group examines what games are, what they do, and how we experience them. Current research threads include tracking and mapping the differences in representation between traditional fiction and virtual reality, the player-avatar relationship in games, architecture and the built environment in game worlds, music and musicking practices in games, and the use of videogames as philosophical tools.

Building Games - Philosophy through Game Design

The work of Prof. Stefano Gualeni - Professor at the Institute of Digital Games - was the focus of an article entitled ‘On Principle’ for Kinfolk Magazine, a popular independent lifestyle magazine published in Denmark that delves into society, style and culture.

Addressing the practical involvement with design, Gualeni is presented in the article as “not your grandmother’s intellectual”: “he produces papers, gives lectures and mentors students, but he also builds things”. His is indeed a particular, and particularly practical (and playful) way to deal with philosophical ideas such as personal identity, the precise definition of things, the confusing nature of indexicals, the blurred boundaries between the actual and the virtual, and so on…

The University of Malta recently published a list of games - Five games developed by the Institute of Digital Games - where 3 of his games were featured.

Kinfolk - quarterly magazine sold in over 100 countries in four languages, daily posts on, bestselling books, plus international events and a gallery space in the heart of Copenhagen.

Game Design and Virtual Worlds at the Centre of the Overmorrow’s Library Podcast

In episode 7 of Overmorrow’s Library, Federico Campagna looks at Stefano Gualeni’s books “Virtual Worlds as Philosophical Tools” (2015) and “Virtual Existentialism” (2020) and at the cosmogonic function of play.

Overmorrow’s Library covers books and authors that explore the limits of our perceived world. It is hosted by Federico Campagna, an Italian philosopher and writer and falls under the auspices of the Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève, a pioneering institution on the Swiss and international art scene. The Centre brings together all fields of contemporary practice: installation, music, painting, performance, photography, photography, sculpture, dance, drawing or video art, culminating within its Dynamo Cinema and the Biennale of Moving Images. In this contemporary art practice they also include videogames, after all as Prof. Gualeni detailed in his interview with the Malta Today “the ‘video game’ is a cultural phenomenon one ignores at one’s own risk.”

Find his most recent work (both textual and in playable form) on his personal website: