Greta Hoffmann has been appointed as Professor for Game Design with Focus on Independent Games. She is a game designer and researcher who works on digital and analog games that transform unpopular educational topics (e. g. waste sorting, financial education) into small, digestible, and fun adventures. Her research focuses on in-depth research of specific design elements as well as a holistic, ontological approach to understanding game design elements.
Education and Professional Experience
After graduating from school at Landesschule Pforta in 2007, I started to study art history in Marburg but decided to change directions shortly after. In 2008 I got accepted at Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design for product design and media art. In my studies I quickly started to focus on games and after my pre-diploma became the head of the GameLab Karlsruhe where I was in charge of the curriculum as well as lectures on game design. During that time I completed an internship at Topware Interactive and continued to work there as a producer for half a year.
In 2011 I went to Kraków, Poland for a guest semester at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Akademia Sztuk Pieknych) in Krakow. After finishing my diploma in 2014 I started my work as a Game Design and Gamification lecturer for various institutions (Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design, Karlshochschule International University, Academy for Communication Pforzheim, Reykjavík University, Macromedia, University of Applied Sciences).
In parallel, I worked as a freelance game designer (published games: Müll AG, InvestNuts). I also worked as a UX Designer for various companies, among them Bosch, Union Investment, Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (ZKM), and KIT. One year after my diploma I received the opportunity to continue my university education at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) as a Ph.D. student in the department of economic science at the Institute for Information Systems and Marketing (IISM).
I received my Ph.D. in July 2022 and started to work as a lecturer at Cologne GameLab in September of the same year.
My teaching concept is rooted in my understanding of the role of a lecturer in the game of university. Therein, students are the player characters, the quest-takers, and the heroes.
On the other hand, the lecturers are the non-playable characters: the quest-givers, reward-awarders, the help function, the Pokedex, and the final bosses – in short, the game masters. I approach the design of each course from the perspective of a game designer as well as a lecturer: What concepts should students know and understand before graduation? But also, what lecture elements will be interesting and fun to participate in?
To me, the foundation of a good seminar is based on premises where the content matter is rich and embedded in real-world contexts: e. g. in a seminar based on Caillois’ concept of Mimicry (the masquerade), I expand into domains of psychology, sociology, cultural studies, and history − on the other hand in a seminar on level design, I address additional foundations of geography, geology, and architecture.
As game design draws from concepts of real life, particularly independent game designers need to have a broad overview of facets relating to human nature as well as abstract systems. Specialization will be shaped by students’ intrinsic interests and by them actively working on tasks. I see it as my job to further expose them to and provide insights into realms of knowledge and inspiration that they have not yet encountered.
My research interests are two-fold. I originally came from a background in design and media theory, where the foundations of my theoretical approach to game research were set in game theory and philosophical perspectives. As I entered the domain of economics for my Ph.D., I adjusted my goal to achieve a beneficial transfer of knowledge by collating and building an ontology of game design elements to be used toward gamification efforts in that domain. The dataset I compiled currently includes a total of 591 game design elements by name, enriched with metadata on author category, a long and short description, key characteristics, human-generated labels, and metadata of the originating literature: research id, scientific field, author(s), title and year (see figure X). We further collated related datasets on playing motivators (n=239) and human needs (n=92) that we then connected to each other through a keyword-matching algorithm. The goal was to create a comprehensive and extensive graph that would afford users interested in applying gameful design to their systems to gain inspiration, achieve an overview, and find suitable elements for their various use cases. To this end, we designed and developed a digital tool for intuitive database navigation that was launched in 2020 as an open-source, free to use web-application and managed to win a prize (IDEENSTARK 2020).
My second research output was to conduct in-depth research on game design elements − particularly in learning contexts. Educational games often have to strike a balance between their desired outcome and the upholding of certain educational standards while competing against the user expectations of their entertainment-oriented sibling-media in terms of aesthetics, pleasure, and content. During my dissertation, I evaluated the effect of three different learning-performance-oriented design elements and their expectable outcome during a field trial as well as through laboratory experiments. These experiments were well received in the information systems community (particularly the study on repetition and look-up on learning outcome with over 520 accesses), building on a game that in itself can claim some success with over 60.000 downloads and critical acclaim in the form of several prizes (GIGA-Maus Preis, Zukunftspreis Kommunikation, KULT Preis) a showing at KIKA (Timster) and great reviews by learning experts.
Hoffmann, G.; Pfeiffer, J. (2021), Gameful Learning for a More Sustainable World – Measuring the Effect of Design Elements on Long-Term Learning Outcomes in Correct Waste Sorting. Business & information systems engineering. doi:10.1007/s12599-021-00731-x
Pfeiffer, J.; Fegert, J.; Greif-Winzrieth, A.; Hoffmann, G.; Peukert, C. (2021), Can Immersive Systems Help Address Sustainability Goals? Insights from Research in Information Systems. Market Engineering : Insights from Two Decades of Research on Markets and Information. Ed.: H. Gimpel, 135–150, Springer International Publishing. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-66661-3_8
Hoffmann, G.; Matysiak, L. (2019), Exploring Game Design for the Financial Education of Millenials. VS-Games 2019 – 11th International Conference on Virtual Worlds and Games for Serious Applications, Vienna, Austria, 4th-6th September 2019, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). doi:10.1109/VS-Games.2019.8864517
Hoffmann, G.; Martin, R.; Weinhardt, C. (2019), Perfectionism in Games – Analyzing Playing Behaviors in an Educational Game. VS-Games 2019 – 11th International Conference on Virtual Worlds and Games for Serious Applications, Vienna, Austria, 4th-6th September 2019, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). doi:10.1109/VS-Games.2019.8864542
Hoffmann, G.; Chlocher, B. (2018), Incentivizing Correct Waste Sorting by Game Design. DiGRA ’18 – Proceedings of the 2018 DiGRA International Conference: The Game is the Message, Turin, Italy, July 25-28, 2018
Hoffmann, G.; Straub, T.; Wagenknecht, T.; Niemeyer, C.; Lisson, C.; Kloker, S.; Zentek, T.; Pfeiffer, J.; Weinhardt, C. (2017), Assistive Spatial Civic Participation – “Take Part”. 13. Internationale Tagung Wirtschaftsinformatik (WI 2017), 12.-15. Februar 2017, St. Gallen, Schweiz
Zentek, T.; Hoffmann, G. (2016), Analyse von Gamification Anreizmechanismen für Crowd Worker in Participatory Sensing. Sozial digital – gemeinsam auf neuen Wegen : Mensch und Computer 2016, 04. – 07. September 2016, Aachen, Germany. Hrsg.: B. Weyers, 1–4, Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V. (GI). doi:10.18420/muc2016