Simulation in video games - why going off the deep end is good, actually


The last decade has seen an explosion in games where a simulated world adds a backdrop to the player's activities, from city builders to survival games to immersive sims. But designing, implementing, and balancing simulated worlds is not a trivial task, and can make for a more unpredictable experience. As a developer, why bother with simulation when the goal is simply to make an entertainment product? In this talk I will speak to why simulation can serve as a compelling element of gameplay for its own sake, and my own experiences as a developer and avid simulation-game enthusiast. My aim is to make a case for why you should err on the side of making your game more complex than you think is necessary.

Curriculum Vitae

Mikael Andersson is a Game Director with Paradox Interactive. He is lead designer of the grand strategy game Victoria 3, a society-builder set in the Victorian era of industrial and political revolutions, which features the most advanced macroeconomic and population models found in any video game to date. His professional interests lie in the intersection of simulation and narrative design.

Mikael Andersson
Paradox Interactive

How Game-Based Learning Transforms Robotics, Coding, and Engineering Learning


In this talk, attendees will learn how game-based learning can be leveraged to transform robotics, engineering, and coding education through the power of games for PC, Roblox, and virtual reality. Partnered with international robotics education organization FIRST Robotics, and funded in part by the US National Science Foundation, the DEKA Foundation, Meta, and Roblox, we will explore the unique affordances of each platform, approaches to creating authentic learning mechanics tied to learning objectives, and considerations for monetization and long-term financial sustainability in educational games. Lastly, attendees will benefit from key findings of our work, including lessons learned that attendees can apply to their own game-based learning projects.

Short Biography

Jennifer Javornik is an international speaker and thought leader on the topics of game-based learning and games for positive impact. As a video game executive specializing in partnerships, revenue growth, and entrepreneurship, Ms. Javornik is currently the Chief Partnerships Officer and Board Member for Filament Games. This award-winning video game studio specializes in digital games, simulations, VR, and AR experiences for positive impact. Having partnered with organizations like Meta, Roblox, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Smithsonian, and Amazon, Filament Games has won numerous awards from organizations such as Games for Change, the Webbys, and the Serious Play Awards. Ms. Javornik is a statewide video game industry leader and a founding board member of the Wisconsin Games Alliance. Ms. Javornik has been the Co-Chair of M+DEV, the Midwest's premiere conference for game developers, and currently serves on the Unity Global Education Board. Ms. Javornik has a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.S. in Information Technology from Northwestern University.