a summit about romance, love and sex in games
The Lyst Summit is all about idea creation and experimentation. Even though the subject is serious, the summit is playful and inviting and will yield great ideas and prototypes.
The endeavour of going to an island and dedicating yourself to the subject of Romance, Love and Sex in games will undoubtedly give an experience of a lifetime.
Our diverse, carefully chosen network of creative individuals inside and outside of the games industry forge invaluable relationships and perhaps future collaborations, over the course of three days.
The Lyst experience
This summit aims to bring light and love to a somewhat controversial subject in games; even though romance, love and sex are some of the most natural aspects of human behaviour, it is not portrayed very often, or very well in games. We want to bring artists, developers, sound artists and creatives from inside and outside the industry together to celebrate, discuss and create within these marvelous topics.
A funky concept needs a funky venue.
This is why we are hosting the summit's game jam around Domkirkeodden in Hamar, Norway.
Read more about the venue
“I knew when I met you an adventure was going to happen”
Winnie The Pooh
“Love is a game that two can play and both win.”
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
“Art flourishes where there is a sense of adventure”
Alfred North Whitehead
“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”
This summit aims to bring light and love to a somewhat controversial subject in games; even though romance, love and sex are some of the most natural aspects of human behaviour, it is not portrayed very often, or very well in games. We want to bring artists, developers, sound artists and creatives from inside and outside the industry together to celebrate, discuss and create within this marvelous topics.
Lyst is a conference that celebrates and centers around the topic of romance, love, and sex in games. We want to see games developed with more diverse stories, themes and game mechanics.
Each year we are trying to find a special setting for Lyst that will help create the special Lyst feeling.
In 2015 we were in Helsinki, Finland. Our symposium was held at the cosy WHS teatteri Union, and afterwards we travelled to the beautiful island Vartiosaari, close to Helsinki city center. The island is inhabited by a handful of artists and we were camping there.
Lyst Symposium - June 5th, 2015
Yet again, we had an amazing and very varied speaker list for the Symposium:
Jonatan Van Hove
10.00 - Registration opens
10:25 - Welcome by the Organizers and Jonatan
There are many digital experiences thematically focused on sex or romance. Dating sims, Pinkie Pie Bukkake, Cunt Touch This, Fingle, Smart Kegel Exercise Aid are all different but somehow related. In this talk, Hanna Wirman will look at the field of sex/romance games through academic glasses and propose a way to classify the “classless”.
Read Hanna's bio
In contemporary society the meaning of family is constantly changing with rapidly evolving legislation relating to marriage, gender, sexuality &
fertilisation. We will see how the nuclear family unit is represented in games in the past, the 21st Century and beyond.
Read Joy's bio
Sex is an important topic that should be explored within all disciplines. I have been working with topics related to sex and the sex industry for five years within Performance and Interaction Design. Sex is changing with technology.
Read Sarah's bio
How can you use the magic spells already existing in the established LARP universe to improve the game and make it about themes such as love and teen-age anxiety.
Read Anna's bio
13.00 - Lunch break and Coffee
This talk covers the early development of the PINE (Playable Interactive Narrative Experience) game; ‘Fragments of Him’, and discusses how a single emotional moment was developed to form a prototype that has delivered an emotional punch for an international audience.
Read Mata's bio
In this talk, game designer and USC Games Associate Professor Richard Lemarchand will take a look at the entanglement of passion and play, on our computers and TVs, upon our tabletops, and in our lives.
Read Richard's bio
How do we distinguish sex on a screen with actually having sex? New
technology and media forms make possible both real and illusory
interactions that can cause physical arousal and even mime the literal grasping and touching of sex, all in the privacy of the home.
Photo Credit: Adrian Armas
Check out the Wonderlust Festival programme
Read Dale's bio
Our codes of interaction, sex among them, are rooted on an ancient basis. Too ancient. Even with our expanded norms, the range of defining our interactions doesn’t have the range of options, mixing and matching, that you would find on an average RPG character sheet.
Read Pekko's bio
Enjoy a glass of bubbles and contemplate the informative day. Getting a ticket for ‘Lyst After Hours’ gives you access to that, but also allows you to join us Friday night after the Symposium at Vartiosaari island, where there will be an arcade, a delicious dinner and a party.
Buy tickets at eventbrite
Special thanks to
for the 'Sex and the Machine talk' by Dale Cooper
In 2014 we made Lyst for the first time. In happened in Copenhagen, Denmark. Our venue for the Symposium and game jam was the old cozy and modernised ferry William Jørgensen; permanently anchored on the half-island of Refshaleøen.
Lyst Symposium - June 6th, 2014
9.00 - Registration opens
9.45 - Welcome by the Organizers and Richard Lemarchand
A walk-through of gender representation in media throughout modern times.
Games and game designers are good at incorporating violence. But what if you want to explore sexuality and amorous interactions in a safe, meaningful and physical manner? Game scholar Jaakko Stenros takes a look at how sexual themes have been handled in the Nordic larp scene.
Live action role-playing, with its embodied play, provides an interesting case example of the issues of trust and safety of play. With numerous examples this talk addresses simulation mechanics, tackles emotional bleed and social alibis, and how playing with transgressive topics can stimulate gaming.
'My gender defines my difficulties in life'. Using gender as an actual difficulty setting in a game inspired the game developers of Queer (sassybot & friends, 2014), a game that was developed during the Games [4Diversity] Jam.
The Games [4Diversity] Jam explored how a feminine or LGBTQ perspective on life could incite new and innovative games. We wanted to enrich industry discussions about gender representation and the inclusion of socio-cultural minorities in games. We were able to contribute in a positive and constructive way by actually making games in less than 20 hours.
Stop yammering, start jamming!
This session presents the findings of two editions of the Games [4Diversity] Jam. Explaining why and how such gamejams matter and what we can learn from these events. We will show that gamejams can incite and connect on both socio-cultural and game development level. Inviting you all to join next year’s edition: exploring ethnic backgrounds as inspiration for game development
How can we make the gaming industry into a more inclusive place?” is a much debated topic at the moment in the gaming world. There were many talks on the subject at the recent GDC conference in San Francisco (“Why are all the AAA lead characters white males?” “How do we attract more females and minorities into the gaming industry?” etc. etc.) - and I attended many of them. Having worked as a female game journalist in 13 years I have seen the changes in the industry and experienced many of the pros and cons of (often) being the only woman in the room. My talk will explore these pros and cons - with a sharp and optimistic focus on why it’s important to remember (and cultivate) the pros.
Slumber party games such as truth or dare or spin the bottle are magical because they grow up with the players: They start out as innocent fun but when the player group matures all these themes of gender, sexuality and body contact gets introduced. In fact, I would argue, these games not only grow up with the players, they also play a part in growing up the players. How do we reinvent these games in a digital context? What design principles are interesting to follow and what can go wrong?
Games that model love and sex are little-known in the West, but common in Japan. The mechanics underlying these games, however, are crude and built upon fairly conventional models, particularly those of role-playing games. Most sexuality research has been qualitative rather than quantitative, and is often culturally bound. In this lecture Ernest Adams will examine some of the approaches to simulating love and sex that have been tried in the past, and then go on to suggest more realistic mathematical models of love and sex using Dormans's Machinations framework.
Why is love so important in games? In a medium that the media still likes to vilify, presenting love effectively in a game is still something of a holy grail. Recently however, both AAA titles and Indie developers have produce a series of critically acclaimed games where love is a central focus of the narrative, or playstyle. And whilst love is a fundamental aspect of our lives, these games also question what it means to be in love, or to love something, in a number of different, often challenging ways.
We may not forget that mankind is a sexual and tool-using species.
From the depiction of a vulva in a cave painting to the newest internet porn game, technology and sexuality have always been closely linked. New technologies are quick to appeal to pornography consumers, and thus these customers represent a profitable market segment for the suppliers of new products and services.
Currently, all factors show that high-tech developments owe a great deal of their success to the need for further sexual stimulation.One could cite the example provided by the science-fiction concept of a full-body interface designed to produce sexual stimulation. But it isn't science fiction anymore. It's DIY.
As bio-hacking, sexually enhanced bodies, genetic utopias and plethora of gender have long been the focus of literature, science fiction and, increasingly, pornography, this year will see us explore the possibilities that fictional and authentic bodies have to offer.
Our world is already way more bizarre than our ancestors could have ever imagined. But it may not be bizarre enough. "Bizarre enough for what?" -- you might ask. Bizarre enough to subvert the heterosexist matrix that is underlying our world and that we should hack and overcome for some quite pressing reasons within the next century. Don't you think, replicants?
Games and love share their processual nature - both can be seen as paths of growth and understanding, and possibly as such most enjoyable as incomplete, without final fulfillment (cf. Leino 2014). Moreover, games can facilitate as means of conveying love and understanding and help in building deeper communication between those involved. In allowing individuals of different kind to come together in mutual enjoyment and sharing, play is considered an exceptional category of behaviour and something that reaches beyond species boundaries. Building on such a perspective, this talk looks into the design of games from two angles both of which have to do with care and love. First, a project in which our compassion to another species is extended and expressed through digital game play is being introduced. Second, a particular viewpoint of feminist theory of love towards strangers and acceptance of difference is explored as something that well suits games' characteristical incompleteness. The examples are drawn from a game design and research project for orangutans’ enrichment and cross-species digital game play.
After the conference ends we'll have the performance game Love Birds, presented by the designers the Indie Bird Collective. There will be games set up to try and we will serve some drinks. It will be possible to mingle, play and discuss and digest the days condensed info.
Lyst summit 2014 was sponsered by:
During the Lyst Game Jam the participants were creating games within the topics of Romance, Love and Sex in games. Many interesting games were developed that each explored this subject in their unique way. Take a look at a selection of the games here.
A physical game about surrendering to your partners. One player playes as the sensor, while 2 other players try to seduce the sensor.
Developed by: Sarah Homewood, Zack Wood, Johannes Følsgaard & Olli Harjola
A short and simple game about regret
Developed by: Martin Nerurkar, Jana Dutz, Isabella Billgren & Gianfranco Dbeis
Find it on itch.io
An interactive love story/mystery set on the magical Vartiosaari island. Navigate around the island and experience the story with these augmented immersive photospheres.
Developed by: Simon Stålhandske, Mathilda Bjarnehed & Runa Haukland
Find it on itch.io
Not all relationships are beautiful and romantic. Some are downright toxic! Play this card game to show the dark side of everybodys life.
Developed by: Lena Mech & Lawrence Johnson
Custody is a cross-platform game for two players that attempts to illustrate the hardships that both parents and their child experience as a result of separation. Playing the game requires three devices: two computers/ tablets and a smartphone, as well as an internet connection.
Developed by: Andrei Livadariu, Hanna Wirman, Nina Croitoru and Thomas Ryder.
Collaborate with your gaming partner to play the finger twisting, abstract and beautiful game. Match the patterns, with only one video game controller you have to share, to reach a common climax.
Developed by: Nicklas Nygren, Sidsel Hermansen and Sara Sandberg
Make sushi with your hands and those of your friends and try to win a "private dinner" with one fellow player.
Designed by: Cecilie Stranger-Thorsen, Lau Korsgaard and Martin Nerurkar.
Vil Du? is a two player game that is designed specifically for sexually abused children. It presents them with the oppertunity to explore their natural curiosity to sex in a safe environment.
Developed by: Paul Bierhaus (artist), Tim Pelgrim (coder), Frank Lippits (domain expert) and Menno Deen (designer)
Other notable games are: Love Me, Feed Me -A virtual baby which needs to be fed, and taken care of. Play-tex - an abstract sex toy; a world of bare flesh, kinky toys and emotion.,
What is Lyst Symposium?
Lyst symposium is a 1-day conference with inspiring speakers within the topics of romance, love and sex in games. See previous Lyst programmes for more info.
What is Lyst Game Jam?
Inspired by jamming out at music gathering, so is game jamming. At a game jam, people with different qualities gather to develop a game within a very limited time constraint, usually 48 hours.
How does it work?
The game jam starts friday evening with a dinner where people get to know their groups, get an introduction and start brainstorming on ideas. The day's after (or during the night if you're ambitious) the development starts. During the two days we'll have some optional creative breaks with massage, yoga, swimming, exercises, games and whatever we can come up with. Sunday at 16h the game jam ends, we'll have presentations a final dinner and a party.
Isn't it just for nerds?
Well, if you by nerds mean people who are really passionate about a subject, then yes. If you mean people with bad social skills and big thick glasses and still living in their mother's basement, then only maybe. We don't judge :)
However, we will ensure a diverse and creative group in the participants. Making a good event is not just about the curated content. It is also about having a diverse and interesting composition of creative individuals. We are inviting artist and thinkers inside as well as outside the games industry.
I cannot draw/program/animate/xxx
Nobody knows how to do everything. And it is not needed to be an expert. You just have to bring your qualities and creativity and then we'll ensure that your team is composed optimally. That means that everything that you will need to develop a game will be represented in your team.
What if I already have a team?
You can apply for the game jam as a team. However, the participation to the game jam is on a selection basis, and we will evaluate your whole team on the same level as we would individuals.
Who is behind
The Lyst Summit is organized by non-profit organizations and people from Scandinavia. They all work with experimental games and public awareness in their own ways.
Copenhagen Game Collective is the initiator and the overall responsible organisation for the network. Copenhagen Game Collective is an experimenting game-and artist collective that challenges and breaks the known boundaries of games. Together with Leikjasamsuðan (IS), Hamar Game Collective (NO) - Spillmakerlauget Øst (NO), YKON (FI), Spillmakerlauget Øst (NO), Collaboratory (SE) and Kjell Håftén (SE), we will organise Lyst in the Nordic region.
Oliver:: specialized in
washing machine transport
Essi: production manager extraordinaire
Erno: Really knows where shit is!
Ida:: best 'pyro' (team fortress)
Dr. Hanna Wirman is a Research Assistant Professor at the School of Design of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University where she teaches game design and development. Hanna researches emerging player groups and social innovation in games and leads educational and socially responsible game design and development projects working closely with the local community and NGOs in Hong Kong. Currently, Hanna's research approaches non-human animals as players. She builds games for orangutans' enrichment and for cross-species communication. Hannaserves as the President of Chinese DiGRA, on the Board of International Gender Design Network and on the Executive Board of Digital Games Research Association. She is the Director of Global Game Jam Hong Kong and the recently established DATE Collaborative Space (Design for Assistive Technologies and Education) at Hong Kong PolyU.
Joy Richardson has a background in Archaeology and Art History having been awarded an MA in The Archaeology of Art and Representation, specialising in non-binary gender. She first worked in the field of learning centres (libraries and IT) before moving into teaching; She has taught archaeology, art and history to both adult education and high school classes. She then spent several years working for the NHS in health research before moving to my current position at The University of Southampton. Here she works assisting research into the command team communications in submarines using a multiplayer video game simulator. She has been an avid gamer for nearly twenty years and is interested in combining her research skills with this activity. She has a particular interests in gender, sexuality, gamification and the representation of the past.
Sarah Homewood originally trained and worked as a Contemporary Dancer. Recently she has moved into the field of Interaction Design where she works with the body as the starting point for everything she does. She has been playing with the subject of sex within her performances and design work for four years, and still see lots more to explore.
Anna Westerling is a producer and a project leader, an engineer with a Master in industrial economy with specialization in software design from the Royal institute of Technology, Stockholm. This is complemented with Studies in theatre, media and computer science at Stockholm university. And finally a Second Lieutenant in the Swedish army.
Active in the Nordic larp and role-playing-scene since 15 years, as a producer, designer and more. Experience from working within the culture sector, such as museums, theaters and as a producer of games, books and conferences.
Mata Haggis is a multi-media storyteller, academic, and games designer with fifteen years of experience working in the creative industries. He started as an artist experimenting with the internet as a medium as well as a platform, before quickly expanding into animation and games development. He has worked on games with enormous budgets and games with no budget at all, and both types have been played by millions of people, and his animations have been broadcast across Europe.
He was recently appointed the Associate Professor of Creative & Entertainment Games at NHTV University in The Netherlands, where he has been teaching for the last five years. Outside of university he is collaborating with SassyBot Studio to create the PINE (Playable Interactive Narrative Experience) game ‘Fragments of Him’. He also writes fiction and non-fiction, and occasionally exhibits paintings. He has been a circus performer, taught classes on martial arts, and has a PhD in cyberpunk. He is a strong proponent of expanding games into wider fields of creativity, diversity, and narrative variety than they commonly occupy, and often speaks internationally on this subject.
Richard Lemarchand is an Associate Professor in the USC Games program, and the Interactive Media & Games Division of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. In addition, he is a game designer, a writer, a public speaker and a consultant. Between 2004 and 2012, Richard was a lead game designer at Naughty Dog in Santa Monica, California. He led or co-led the design of all three PlayStation 3 games in the Uncharted series, including Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, the winner of ten AIAS Interactive Achievement Awards, five Game Developers Choice Awards, four BAFTAs and over 200 Game of the Year awards. A passionate advocate of indie and experimental games, Richard has been involved with the IndieCade International Festival of Independent Games for several years, and organizes the annual GDC Microtalks.
Dale Cooper is a porn actor and avid gamer. Despite this, but more likely because of this, he has contributed to the Huffington Post and Lambda Literary Foundation, been interviewed by French public radio, appeared in a Bjarne Melgaard art installation for the Whitney Biennial in New York City, and had one of his homemade pornos shown at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Also a book he wrote something for is coming out later this year. He thinks all of this is very funny. He lives in Baltimore, the Greatest City in America, where he likes to watch the news on mute so he can pretend the news people are telling everyone what a great day he had.
Pekko Koskinen is a designer of reality games who also plays around with various forms of art. His works include fictional religions, ways of living, made-up societies... Most of these operations place within life at large, outside the traditional representative formats. He′s a member of Reality Research Center, and YKON, an advocacy group for utopian thought. Reality Research Center is an performing arts laboratory based in Helsinki, Finland. Consisting of artists from various fields, RRC focuses on the questions of common and personal senses of reality: What is reality? How can we observe, experience, describe, define, reflect, discuss, present or represent it? The events that RRC creates, whatever their form, are simultaneously works of art and tools of research.