From 7 to 9 November, the Smart Country Convention, a trade fair for digitalization, especially in the public sector, took place at the exhibition grounds in Berlin. Nancy Faeser, Federal Minister of the Interior and for Home Affairs, gave the keynote and opening speech. Numerous speakers, over 600 in number, from politics, society and the digitalization sector held lectures and workshops. About 15,000 participants were registered.
Stadt- und Stiftsarchiv Aschaffenburg, together with the Office for IT and Digital Strategy, had a stand that focused on the city’s “Dialog City” digital strategy. The team provided information about the various digital projects and services. The project staff had also a great opportunity to network and learn about the progress of digitalization in the municipalities.
Stadt- und Stiftsarchiv Aschaffenburg provided an insight into the EU project of the same name, “Dialog City”, and the participatory platforms Heimathub and Aschaffenburg 2.0.
At a workshop on 7 November, a larger group of around 15 participants were able to discuss the various projects and there was a lively exchange on how digitalization is received by citizens of different ages and what improvements they would like to see.
Joachim Kemper (Stadt- und Stiftsarchiv Aschaffenburg) and Leslie Becker (Office for IT and Digital Strategy)
Joachim Kemper (Stadt- und Stiftsarchiv Aschaffenburg), Hannah Bartel (Dialog City) and Stefan Horn (Dialog City)
Anna Hein-Schwesinger (Stadt- und Stiftsarchiv Aschaffenburg) with Stefan Horn (Dialog City) at the podcast talk
The moderators Axel Watzke and Monika Münch (Main-Echo) welcomed the participants in the Schönborner Hof in Aschaffenburg. The round of introductions showed that the Game Jam team had a diverse composition. Some participants work in the city archives of Aschaffenburg, a law student and a student from the Dalberg-Gymnasium were also there, as well as a doctor, an FU student, and a pensioner. They all came with different ideas and expectations, but what they all had in common was their curiosity and willingness to think up and try out new game ideas and to develop an interesting and challenging game together!
In his introduction, Axel Watzke, who has already moderated several game jams, described the course of the event and briefly presented the goals of the “Dialog City” project. The focus of his remarks was the term “future literacy”, which is linked to a key question: How can one think about the future, does one have to relate to the past? Watzke referred to the well-known saying of actress and activist Jane Fonda, who criticized that we treat the world as if we had a second one at our disposal.
In order to establish the historical reference to the city of Aschaffenburg and to be inspired by this when developing the game, Vaios Kalogrias from the city archives presented events and personalities from the city’s history. They included the pioneers of industrialization Alois Dessauer and Johann Desch with their innovative companies, the courageous democrat Jean Stock and the pioneer of the educational idea Philumene Lehner. Can working from home for the clothing industry in the 19th century be seen as a prototype of the home office? What can we learn from Stock’s struggle for social justice today and for the future? These and similar questions were given here as input.
Axel Watzke picked up the thread again and connected the Aschaffenburg past with the idea of the Game Jam: Can you make a game about Alois Alzheimer, who went to school in Aschaffenburg, or the November Revolution? What about the local women’s movement that campaigned for better education for girls? What other examples from Aschaffenburg’s history are suitable for game ideas? Watzke identified six game categories that could be tried: board games, card games, simulations (e.g. battle reenactments), spatial games, video games and physical games (including sports activities). The participants wanted to focus on these types of games. The highlight of the matter: only simple analog tools could be used, such as scissors, dice, paper and adhesive tape, there was also a time limit. This challenge was accepted with enthusiasm, and in groups of three the participants deepened their thoughts on the game. Curious glances at the neighboring table were not lacking, but joy and a spirit of cooperation could be felt everywhere!
Axel Watzke and Monika Münch accompanied the whole thing, intervened with constructive suggestions and looked for solutions to make the games more interesting and attractive. It turned out that the development of a board game, for example, is not easy, requires a lot of concentration and has well thought-out rules. However, the enthusiasm of the participants overcame all obstacles and led to results! There were no limits to the imagination, intensive work and teamwork paid off. Important motives included empathy for fellow human beings, society’s responsibility for future generations, technology as an opportunity and danger, simplification of complex processes and green cities – this is what gave rise to game ideas and concepts.
Between the sessions there was also an online exchange with the participants of the Game Jam in Mondovi, in which a team from the city archives (Joachim Kemper, Jens Best) took part. Undeterred by the current heat wave, the partners in Mondovi did an excellent job in organizing the first hybrid festival of the “Dialog City” – further hybrid festivals will follow in other cities of the project, including Aschaffenburg. Axel Watzke and Stefan Horn, who moderated the Game Jam in Mondovi, finally presented the game results together on July 22nd, which were eagerly discussed by the participants. While the Aschaffenburg Game Jam teams considered pedagogical aspects and survival strategies when developing their board games and attached importance to saving the environment, reducing CO2 and relieving traffic, the Game Jam teams in Mondovi focused more on space games and topics such as water, health, mobility and hunger – topics that will probably be important for the future of the cities and that require solutions.
Axel Watzke and Stefan Horn were very positive about the presentations and made suggestions for the final versions. All teams had great fun showing their games, commenting on individual moves and designing game characters. They are especially looking forward to the next Game Jam!
The project partners informed about the goals and contents of "Dialog City"
The Digitalladen, the AMT for IT and Digital Strategy and the Stadt- und Stiftsarchiv from Aschaffenburg together with partners from Italy, France and Hungary were represented with a small but very interesting and smartly designed stand. The fact that the “Dialog City” stand was directly opposite the ZDF stand was certainly no disadvantage!
Employees of the city of Aschaffenburg and partners of the EU project “Dialog City” presented current projects such as “Dialog City”, “Heimathub”, “Digitale Manufaktur” as well as “DialogRomantik” and “Zeitraum Brentano”. The “Dialog City” stand was very well attended when Marlon Brand (ComKom) took a virtual journey into the Romantic era with “Zeitraum Brentano”. The presentation by Carolina Reis (Office for IT and Digital Strategy) on “Digital Manufacture” attracted lively interest, and a lively discussion followed the talk by Joachim Kemper (City Archives of Aschaffenburg) and Antje Diener-Staeckling (Archive Office of Westphalia) on the possibilities of open archives. For their part, Anna Hein-Schwesinger and Vaios Kalogrias from the City Archives of Aschaffenburg explained to the audience the function of the online platform of the “Heimathub für den Bayerischen Untermain” and the importance of digital participatory projects for local and regional history. The use of digital technologies for the conception and implementation of projects around the topics of history, memory, culture and participation was very well received by the visitors, many of whom had not expected such a cultural-digital offer at the fair.
At the center of this digital offering was the “Dialog City” project. The partners of this project from Germany (Peter Panes), Italy (Irene Cornaglia, Federico Fazari) and France (Zofia Basista) as well as Hannah Bartel and Jens Best (both staff member of the EU project in Aschaffenburg) and Frank Tentler (consultant, developer and lecturer of “Smart City Designe”) held many – and also long! – conversations about the future design of cities with the help of digital and sustainable technologies and drew attention to the upcoming “Game Jam” event, which will take place in Aschaffenburg and Mondoví (Italy) in parallel.
But not only the projects and flyers were positively received and taken along. Also the Aschaffenburger beer met the taste particularly of the Berlin visitors and provided for a cheerful tendency with the Bavarian conditions!
During this three-day workshop, citizens, students and activists will get the opportunity to develop game ideas together and then to design concrete prototypes that deal with the burning issues of the future. Topics such as climate change, the current crisis and global interdependencies can be negotiated in game jams to generate innovative ideas and make complex connections visible in a playful way.
How does the Imagine Our Future Game Jam work?
Various teams on site in Aschaffenburg and Mondoví develop game ideas for the specific topic within a certain time frame. They are supported by professional process supervisors and game designers to convert these ideas into playable prototypes with the help of agile development methods. Regular play tests play an important role in improving these prototypes. As part of the DIALOG CITY Hybrid Festival, some of the playtests will take place as online presentations between the two cities involved.
Under the title »LABOURGAMES«, the two game masters Stefan Horn and Axel Watzke designed and managed game jams in cooperation with European partners in Rome, Hamburg, Athens and Amsterdam. More than 80 game ideas were developed. The entire process of the multi-year project is documented on the project website.
A participatory festival, a large, joyful and varied artistic-cultural ecosystem, not only to watch but to experience as well as to develop artistic moments together in public space and to take the opportunity for creative discussion and dialogue on most pressing topics of the future.
The Cirko Vertigo Foundation carried out the project in collaboration with the Italian partners Comune di Mondovì, CFP CEMON and CIAC and with the coordination of Federico Fazari. The festival was developed in the context of Piazza di Circo, an event organized by the L’Albero del Macramè Association.
“Thanks to everyone’s commitment, the DIALOG CITY Hybrid Festival has succeeded in its intent: to create an authentic dialogue, both in physical presence and through digital tools, but first and foremost with the citizens and spaces of the City of Mondovì that have generously hosted us. By using art and creative tools to understand that the future has its roots in the past and starts from the actions of the present, in order to be imagined exactly as we wish.” (Raffaele Irace, artistic director of the Hybrid Festival).
The Festival was officially opened by the vernissage of the work „News from Home“ by the artists Anne Fehres and Luke Conroy, a multidisciplinary duo selected by the Dialog City Art for Public Residence programme. Anne and Luke observed the local community of Mondovì for four weeks and entered into contact and dialogue with it through two workshops. The result of the artist residency: a colorful large-scale photographic composition that embellished the stone wall leading to the Belvedere Tower of Mondovì.
The Hybrid Festival was then divided into workshops and a new show format called 24 Hours x 24 Minutes, in which two dancers, Marco Volta and Rosalie Wanka, found themselves sharing a stage space – in this case different locations in the city of Mondovì – for 24 hours, at the end of which they presented a performance lasting at least 24 minutes, the culmination of the whole festival and which was held in Piazza Maggiore on the evening of Saturday 22nd July starting at 10pm.
A true innovation of the event was the possibility to follow the the performance remotely. The creation of 24 Hours x 24 Minutes was documented through the eye of the cameras for its entire duration and was broadcasted by the DIALOG CITY broadcasting channel and via the blucinQue Nice app both connected to the YouTube platform.
The work of the three dance and performance study workshops which were conducted on 21 and 22 July by professional dancers and choreographers Daniela Paci, Cecilia Castellari and Davide Degano converged in the final performance. The workshops, which involved about twenty young people, dancers and circus performers and which were held on the stages set up in Piazza Maggiore and at the Belvedere Tower, were defined as “experiences”: the first experience centered on the concept of discovery, the second on that of creation, the third and last on the concept of composition.
In addition to the 24-hour dance performance, a Game Jam was held at the Palazzo di Città di Mondovì and a participatory laboratory was created in parallel and in connection with the City of Aschaffenburg in Germany, the lead partner of the DIALOG CITY project. During this three-day workshop, citizens, students and project partners had the opportunity to develop game ideas together and then to design concrete game prototypes that are dealing with the most pressing issues of the future. Topics such as climate change, the current crisis and global interdependencies were negotiated in the Game Jam in order to generate innovative ideas and make complex connections visible in a playful way. The Game Jam held in both cities at the same time was facilitated by the Stefan Horn and Axel Watzke and was based on the methodology and output of a former Creative Europe project called “LABOURGAMES – the playful world of work”.
You can find the program of the HYBRID FESTIVALhere.