Maps and Games in Dresden (Germany) – August 25th 2013

A Workshop + A Playground gaming session convened by the Maps and Society + the Arts and Cartography Commissions of the International Cartographic Association

Game Studies emerged as a discipline in parallel with the growth of videogaming in the 1980s (see Salen and Zimmerman 2004) and by 2012 the gaming industry had a global turnover of around US$65 billion.  Maps play a very significant role in many different game genres. From puzzles, to shoot-em-ups, to mazes, quests, sport sims, strategy-based war-games, urban games and geo-caching, mapping represents a largely unquestioned backdrop, but often also delivers a central and active role in game play. From Risk to World of Warcraft, from Harvey Mazzles to street games, from Microsoft Golf, to RunZombieRun mapping matters in game play. However to date the nature of mapping in games has been significantly under-researched.

The need for further research is amplified with the shifts to digital and mobile-based gaming. Geospatial technologies are now guiding players throughout cities that have became game boards. These in site games are redefining the function and the meaning of maps in gaming activities. This dynamic context calls for sustained and critical interest. This workshop focuses upon different sites, and mapping practices enrolled in gaming, exploring the significance of technological change, the cultural significance of mapping and gaming, and the aesthetics and politics of maps in games, and games in maps. Ways of understanding spatial relations implicit in gaming have also shifted over this time, and offer a challenging field for researchers.

We invite critical papers that focus upon amongst other issues:

  • The design of maps as game boards
  • The links between mapping and different game genres
  • Historicizing the changing relationship between games and maps
  • The role of the map interface in structuring game-play
  • The performative nature of  mapping in game play
  • The mapped relations between the world and the game
  • The nature of fantasy and imagination in the construction of mapped games
  • The affect of mapping in games
  • Mobile apps and map game interfaces
  • Map puzzles
  • Mapping and augmented reality games

Abstracts (250 words) should be emailed to by 30th April 2013

Urban Mapping GameThe workshop is scheduled for Sunday 25th August afternoon and is accompanied by a Playground gaming session organized by Invisible Playground (Note: all the participants of the workshops will automatically be registers to the gaming session)

Invisible Playground is a collective of young Berlin-based artists, game designers and academics. Founded in 2009, Invisible Playground makes site-specific games of various sizes and formats. Drawing from a broad range of influences ranging from experimental musical theater and performance art to video games, the collective develops playful experiences that grant participants entry onto the invisible playgrounds they walk across every day without noticing. Its approach to mapping is closely connected to the notion of site-specific games. A game is site specific if the rules of the game are inspired by and merged with the rules of urban life at a certain site. Hence the game design process often includes mapping of urban dynamics, architecture, infrastructure and stories. In some cases maps are handed out to players during the games for example to help them navigate, to define the boundaries of the playing field or to assign certain rules of movement and interaction to certain locations on the playing field. At the Workshop on Maps and Games, Invisible Playground will offer a game session with a game that is adopted for the Workshop-site and involves map use. The session will also include a short introduction of other relevant projects of Invisible Playground and discussion. Number of players: ca 20 players, playing time: TBD, outdoor location.

Questions related to the gaming session can be sent to and


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