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Looking to the games sector for inspiration in an online world

Mon 22nd Feb – Fri 5th Mar 2021

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About Tinderbox PlayAway!

At a time when so many people are moving online, we wanted to turn to the Games industry for inspiration – to ask how games are adapting and responding to the pandemic, and to explore what role they could play looking ahead.
What are the most interesting ways of playing and interacting both online and offline at the moment? Are there possibilities for new connections, learning & collaborations between gaming worlds and other sectors? And how can we build a more playful and creative way forward for us all in the future?
Over 2 weeks, from 22nd Feb to 5th March, we showcased and celebrated the creativity, diversity, innovation, and imagination in games and interactive media through PlayAway, an online two-week festival. Over 30 game designers, artists, musicians, researchers and others involved in games got together through a series of panel discussions, workshops, demos, live music performances, virtual play sessions and game jams joined by close to 1000 attendees and participants.
As well as a festival for people involved in games, we wanted to invite and involve people from other sectors and different artforms too. A range of speakers and events looked at some of the cross-sections between gaming and education, music, health, wellbeing, theatre and other areas, and during the festival we filmed a series of Conversations opening up discussion and space for new ideas and collaborations.
The festival was run on a donations-based model – to keep it free & accessible for anyone to attend, while paying our speakers and performers fairly. 
Take a look at our Videos, Conversations and Programme where you can see what was on and watch the events back!
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Festival Home Page
Topic / Category
Speakers & Artists
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Event Recordings

Recordings from the live events during the festival
Note: We are editing these videos as quickly as we can and will add them here as soon as we can!

Games, the Pandemic & the Future
with Jane McGonigal
Fireside Conversation with Q&A

Gaming for Health, Education and Wellbeing
with Brian Baglow, Game Doctor, Yaldi Games, Civic Digits and Glitchers

Games Composer Panel
with Jenny Nelson (Scala Radio), Nainita Desai (Telling Lies), Guy Jackson (Sea of Solitude), Tess Tyler (PLAYNE: The Meditation Game)

Game Design Panel
with Shay Thompson (BBC Sounds), Jon McKellan (No Code), Dan Pinchbeck (The Chinese Room), Malath Abbas (Biome Collective)

Virtual Reality (VR) Mini Talks
with Jung In Jung, Paul Blackham, Brian Allen (Bearharmmer Games), Thomas Kildren (Fletcher Studios), Andy Antoniou (Furry Tail Dragon)

Beyond Parasocial Interaction: Speed Dating for Ghosts
Presentation & Let’s Play with Gabriel Elvery

Paths to Games Research
with William Kavanagh, Robin Sloan, Dr David Farrell, Dr Romana Ramzan

Postgraduate Research Panel
With Dr Matthew Barr, Lauren Watson, Francis Butterworth-Parr, William Kavanagh, Kirsty Dunlop, Monica Vazquez

Game Studies in the Wild: Practical Applications of Games Research
with Ruth EJ Booth, Gabriel Elvery, Charly Harbord, and Arthur Ehlinger 

Intro to Bitsy Workshop
with Claire Morwood

Zoom Obscura Works in Progress
with Ilsa Pouwels, Michael Baldwin, Bea Wijshijer, Paul O’Neill, Martin Disley

Mixed Realities: Virtual and Physical Interaction
with Yann Seznec, Mona Bozdog, FoxDog Studios and Laura E Hall

Games & Empathy Mini Talks
with Marina Diez (3 of Cups Games), Alastair Low (Lowtek Games), Natalie Schmidt, Nida Ahmad

Fostering an Engaged Community Virtually and Beyond (SGDA)
with Jamie Cross (SGDA), Susie Buchan (Arcadia Fest), Beverley McMillan (BAFTA Scotland) & Jed Milroy (Tinderbox Collective)

Live Music Show + PlayAway Party!
with Jed Milroy & Jo Jeffries, The False Economy, The Jellyman’s Daughter, John “Slide20XX” Smith and The Gamba Geek

PlayAway Conversations

A series of pre-recorded conversations with people working outside of the games sector about games, creativity and the crossovers between real-world and online environments. 

Note: Videos from these conversations are being edited and will be shared over the festival.

Games, Theatre & Hybrid Environments
A Conversation with Dougie Irvine from Visible Fictions

Games, Creative Ageing & Festivals
A Conversation with Dominic Campbell from Creative Ageing International

Gaming & Music in Secondary School
A Conversation with four music teachers across Scotland through Music Education Partnership Group.

Gaming and Youth Theatre
A Conversation with Shauna Macdonald from Edinburgh Youth Theatre

Games, Arts & Community
A Conversation with Kate Wimpress & Genevieve Kay-Gourley, from North Edinburgh Arts

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Audience Feedback

Thank you for joining us for our first PlayAway!

If you attended the festival we’d love to know what you think – our feedback form is now closed, but please feel free to contact us at with feedback or questions directly.

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Festival Highlights

Jane McGonigal, PhD, is the Director of Game Research + Development at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, California. She is the author of two New York Times bestselling books: Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World and SuperBetter: The Power of Living Gamefully. Her TED talks on how games can make a better world have more than 15 million views.

More info here

Games Design Panel 
No Code, The Chinese Room and Biome Collective
Chaired by: Shay Thompson
Mon 22 Feb, 19:15 – 20:00 (GMT)
More info

Bitsy One-Day Game Jam!
Join us and making some games using Bitsy
Livestream with Zoë Sams
Tue 2nd Mar, 9:00 – 19:00 (GMT)
More info

More Game Design
Click here

 Live Music Show & Party
Fri 5 Mar, 19:15 – 21:30 (GMT)
More info

Games Composer Panel
Nainita Desai, Guy Jackson, Tess Tyler
Chaired by: Jenny Nelson
Fri 5 Mar, 18:00 – 19:00 (GMT)
More info

More Games & Music
Click here

Zine-Making Workshop
with Biome Collective
Wed 24 Feb, 13:00 – 16:00 (GMT)
£10 / £5 (conc)
More info

Introduction to Bitsy:
Making Games with Small Tools

Workshop with Claire Morwood (Biome Collective)
Tue 2nd March, 09:30 – 12:30 (GMT) 
Price £10 / £5 (conc)
More info

More Workshops
Click here

Gaming for Health, Education & Wellbeing
Game Doctor, Yaldi Games, Civic Digits, Glitchers
Chaired by: Brian Baglow
Tue 23rd Feb, 13:00 – 14:00 (GMT)
More info

Games & Empathy Mini-Talks
Marina Diez (3 of Cups Games),
Alastair Low (Lowtek Games), Natalie Schmidt
Thu 4th Mar, 13:00 – 14:00 (GMT)
More info

More Games & Wellbeing
Click here

Games Research with
University of Glasgow Games & Gaming Lab
Various Panel Talks
11:30 – 15:15 (GMT)
More info

UK Games Industry Internships,
Graduate Schemes and Traineeships 
Games Jobs Live with Into Games
Thu 25th Feb, 16:00 – 18:00 (GMT)
More info

More Research & Careers
Click here

Mixed Realities: Virtual and Physical Interaction
Mona Bozdog, Foxdog Studios, Laura E Hall
Chaired by: Yann Seznec
Tue 23rd Feb, 18:00 – 19:00 (GMT)
More info

Virtual Reality (VR) Mini Talks
Jung In Jung & Paul Blackham, Brian Allen (Bearharmmer Games), Andy Antoniou, Thomas Kildren
Wed 3rd Mar, 13:00 – 13:45 (GMT)
More info

More Creative Tech
Click here

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Click on the registration link for each event to book a place for that event.

Most panels, talks & events take place over Zoom, but some may be held elsewhere, like Twitch and YouTube.

Some workshops and events are hosted by other other groups and will have links to book separately.

Explore the Tinderbox PlayAway programme to find an event for you:

Full Festival Programme

Donations / Pricing

The festival is being run on a donations-based model.  We want it to be free & accessible for anyone to attend, but we also want to pay our speakers and performers fairly. If you are able to make a donation this would be a big help.

All panel-discussions, talks and demos are free/by donation.
Some of the workshops are managed separately and have a fixed fee as places are limited.

More info and suggested donations here

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Click to view our Press Release and email for more information

A BIG thanks to our Partners & Sponsors

Scala Radio
Scottish Games Network
University of Glasgow Games and Gaming Lab
Creative Scotland
Games Jobs Live
Scottish Game Developers Association
Creative Informatics
Game Music Connect
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Festival Home Page
Topic / Category
Speakers & Artists
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