The fourth edition of the Ludicious - Zurich Game Festival will kick off on Thursday, January 18th, with a three-day international conference. From Thursday to Saturday 600 people from the international and local games industry will meet at the Kasernenareal in Zurich to attend talks, panel discussions and workshops. In addition to industry exchanges, the festival is about making new contacts and showcasing the international games nominated for the Ludicious Awards. From Saturday early afternoon, the general public will also have the opportunity to play the games in the exhibition, accompanied by an exciting program of entertainment including live art and music performances. On Sunday, the festival will feature workshops in art, coding and writing for games that will be a meeting place for families and anyone who wants to learn more about the processes involved.

Three conference days with talks and panel discussions on the artistic exploration, cultural classification and economic direction of the industry

During the conference, 50 international speakers will be looking at the game industry and the development of computer games from many angles. The talks, lecture series and panel discussions in the fields of art, technology, interaction design, creative systems, community and business show diverse approaches and will encourage attendees to join into the discussion on multiple levels.

Among the speakers of Ludicious 2018 are:

• David OReilly, who made it to the Oscar long-list with the trailer of his award-winning game Everything.
• Alden Kroll of Valve, who co-developed the largest digital game publishing platform Steam.
• Dhaunae de Vir of White Wolf Entertainment (caring for Games like Vampire: The Masquerade), who will discuss how to re-establish trust with a community.
• Callum Underwood, from publisher Raw Fury, who will spotlight the reality of dealing with publishers.
• Lauren Cason, who will talk about her award-winning game Monument Valley 2 and mother roles in games.
• Daniel Dociu, Art Director at Amazon Game Studios, who will show how to push beyond existing economic constraints in maintaining independend creativity.
• Kate Edwards, former global director of IGDA, CEO at Geogrify, will shed light on the importance of unconscious and cultural decisions in the design and distribution of games.
• Chris Bourassa of Red Hook Studios, who will talk about the artistic concept of indie hit Darkest Dungeon 2, which has sold more than two million copies.
• Dajana Dimovska of NapNok Games, who uses the example of her game Frantics to show design approaches to intergenerational games.

With Philomena Schwab (Stray Fawn Studio), David Stark (Gamespace), Dragica Kahlina (HSLU), Attila Szantner (MMOs), Chris Solarski (SOLARSKI STUDIO) and Tabea Iseli (Ibex Games), six Swiss game developers are also part of the speaker Line-up at the Zurich Game Festival.

In addition to more than 50 lectures and panel discussions, two half-day tracks have been curated in collaboration with the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), and 50 Swiss and international games will be presented by the makers themselves at the festival. Microsoft, Valve (Steam), and Sony will be also there looking to share with developers about their latest game development tools.

Program Design

"Games, like all other media, reflect the themes and sensitivities of their time,” is how Tobias Kopka, programme director of the festival, describes the work around the discussion of game development.

"So it's not surprising this year that topics like surveillance, suppression, and subversion have been the focus of many submissions for this year's Ludicious Awards. We wanted to respond to this not only via showcasing games approaching this in the exhibition, but also focusing in the culture-related lectures on the relationship between games, game design and the political environment. In one of our talks for example, Eric Zimmerman, game design veteran and professor at New York University, discusses how political systems that regulate our lives are functioning inadequately, and how game designers can help to fix this.

Other talks and games on the other hand deal with the topic of "hacking" and casually explore the question of how life is shaped in a surveillance state. We are delighted that the origin of this year’s game submissions are so geographically spread and include contributions from the newest technological hot spots, for example from Iran, Chile and Israel.

All in all, the festival provides insights into the courageous choices of game developers last year - exploring the conditions of production and the aesthetic possibilities of digital games on the frontiers of business, game design, art and technology. "An important goal was to assemble speakers from small and medium-sized studios who have found innovative ways to defy the adversities of the current game industry, including the Swiss industry. The core objective of our conference is to facilitate an exchange of knowledge and experience between speakers and audiences in both directions.”

The complete conference program can be found at

Ludicious & SGDA Game Awards Night

A highlight of the festival is the Ludicious & SGDA Game Awards Night on Friday evening. At this, Ludicious will announce the winners of the international and student competition. The two prizes are endowed with a total of 12,000 euros. Also part of the Awards Night is the announcement of the winners of the Swiss Game Awards, which were selected by the Swiss Game Developers Association (SGDA). All nominees from the three competitions will be presented at the festival along with other games in a game show featuring over 50 international and local games.

After the award ceremony with an elegant gala dinner, the festival visitors can continue until late at the “Marioke”, a special karaoke variant with song lyrics that allude to games.

Networking and business opportunities at Ludicious

The Ludicious Festival will continue to offer visitors a variety of networking and advisory services in 2018, bringing together emerging game developers and established industry greats, publishers and mentors. As part of the Ludicious Business Accelerator, which is supported by Engagement Migros, eight Swiss game projects were selected in advance of the festival, which will receive business training and tailor-made meetings with potential investors during the festival. Through the MeetToMatch platform, all business pass owners can organise their own meetings with game developers, investors, publishers and mentors. The personal atmosphere at the Zurich Festival enables all visitors to exchange ideas in a relaxed environment. This creates diverse conversational groups that would not arise in similar but larger and more anonymous events.

Ludicious Family - Workshops for all game-interested

The family-friendly program on Sunday includes not only the Game Exhibition but also free workshops where kids, teens and grown-up game enthusiasts learn how to program their own game or how to best draw video game characters or fantasy creatures going on.

The program and workshops of Ludicious Family can be found at