Year 2017, 20 Years Less

My 2017 in retrospect

Have I become picky about conferences? I didn't attend many, compared to previous years. But quality beats quantity: the ones I did attend were good or very good. Let's first recall international academic events:
  • March: International Games-Ed Seminar, Poland
  • April: Academic Larp Studies: Methods & Approaches, Poland
  • September: Central & Eastern European Game Studies, Slovakia
  • September: Discourses of Historical Education. Visions of Nation in School History Textbooks, Poland
  • October: Larp as a Social Tool, Belarus (see here)
  • December: PlayTrack 2017, Denmark (see here)
I organised the first two. The Games-Ed Seminar was a crazy last-minute idea: Why not host an international academic seminar with no budget at a two week notice? If the opportunity presents itself? It did! We already had three Norwegians from HIHM coming to visit UKW with Erasmus+ funding. And I heard Tomasz Kaczmarek, graduate of Game Design at Brunel University, would be in Poland at that time, not far from our place. So I said, hey guys, let's team up and share experiences from games education in Norway, Poland and UK. We'll frame it as a one-day seminar with students and staff as audience. And that's exactly what happened. Games-Ed International Seminar officially endorsed by the game industry (IGP Foundation) and academia (GRAP; UKW Rector), opened by Vice-Rector for Development and Cooperation. Created with zero budget in two weeks from idea to implementation.  

Next month, we had another academic seminar, this time focused on larp studies, this time with money and a more decent preparation time. LSS has a blog post of its own., and so do the Belarusian and Danish events (linked above).

How about game industry conferences?
  • February: Konferencja Larpowa 2017
  • October: Game Industry Conference / Poznan Game Arena (see here)
  • November: Mastering the Game (see here)
And one more thing. Last month, I went to a very interesting higher-ed seminar held by Foundation of Polish Rectors. I blogged about it just yesterday. 

Game events
I also warmly recall some game events: Hardkon Larpers Retreat with Sirius Game Studio, Laboratorium Gier with, Huuuge Game Jam with Huuuge Games, and the epic-scale World of Darkness Berlin. I was lucky (or picky), as they all were awesome, each in its own way. Each deserves a blog post which I never had time to write. Maybe some day? The memory is still fresh, the projects will be continued.

Work for game companies
2017 brought my first small assignment for Sirius Game Studio: trainer in a role-playing event for bank employees.
And a pretty big assignment for leader of narratological research for their "Chinese Box" project funded under GameInn by National Center for R&D.

Published papers
Three big academic papers in 2017 plus one released officially on 3rd Jan 2018:

 One non-academic for a teacher's magazine:
And one white paper for a new curriculum studies project:  

Book on edu-larp
A new adventure: I edited and wrote some stuff for a book on edu-larp in corporate training and assessment, authored by Blaz Branc (Baltazar Marketing, Slovenia). If the stars are right, it will be published by Rollespilsakademiet for Knutpunkt 2018 in March.

My higher doctorate
My habilitation (something like higher doctorate / Doctor of Letters) book is finally close to completion. It's good that it's almost done - bad that it still isn't. I was so planning to complete it by the end of the year. But the usual thing happened: new projects - unexpected! not planned in the schedule! was one of the culprits, having lured me into the GameInn project with a shiny pile of money. Blaz was another distraction, with a leverage stronger than money: an old promise. I had promised to help him with the edu-larp book some 1,5 years ago. Long time passed in silence, and then suddenly the topic popped up again. I had no idea the bulk of the work would land in November and December, pushing my habilitation book to 2018. Bad, very bad timing. But there is hardly any thing in the world I hate more than breaking my word. So, the edu-larp book is finished, my habilitation is not. 

University Award
I got Rector's Award for exceptional achievements in organisational work at UKW in 2016/17. The fourth of that kind in my book of merits. 

Gamedec.UKW B.A. Projects
Yay! The first gamedecs graduating from my seminar! One of the most rewarding things in my teaching life.

Gamedecs win 1 mln PLN!
This might actually be the most rewarding one. Yes. I blogged about it, too.

Farewell to Gamedec.UKW
Well, not a complete farewell yet. I still run my B.A. seminar, organise one or two events, and will probably coordinate student traineeship in the NCBiR grant. But I officially resigned as coordinator / leader / father figure of Gamedec.UKW in early 2017. The 2017/18 academic year and its new curriculum are not my responsibilities.

Farewell to UKW?
One reason why I did not take responsibility for the 2017/18 enrollees is that my contract with UKW ends on 30th September. Most of their time at Gamedec.UKW will be beyond my period of employment. So at the end of 2017 I looked forward to an unknown professional future. There will be choices to make. I may want to stay at UKW (if they want me to). I may want to try another university. I'm also fiddling with the idea of taking a break from the Academia to work for the game industry. In the long run, I think it is game academia that I would love most as a career, but it could be even better with a year or two of industry experience under my belt. 

20 years younger
The best part of it all is the uncertainty. I don't know what options are coming in 2018, and I don't even have a clear preference. I'd love to work on serious games and simulations. Or game-based learning activities and events. Or game writing and narrative design. Or game design education and curriculum development. Or academic research on games, narratives, culture or education. Or a couple of other things. Right now, my first priority is to finish the long-overdue book. Then, I shall see what options are on the table and make my choice. 
What a fascinating moment in life! I guess late thirties is the right age to start sliding into midlife crisis. But it doesn't feel like it. While my offspring is leaving for college this year (no more kids at home!), I am looking at possible career paths myself, not knowing where I'll be a year from now. It feels more as if I was 19 again.