Workshop Announcement: Playing With Rituals

Playing with Rituals – Dr. Doris Rusch & Dr. Sabine Harrer
Time: Wednesday, 23 October 2019, 15h-18h Place: Tampere University, Pinni B, B1029-1030, all are welcome!

In this workshop we are going to explore ritual as a lens and entry point to designing and analyzing games that aim to contribute to a meaningful life. According to existential psychotherapist Irvin Yalom, the human experience is characterized by anxiety, stemming from the Givens of Existence or Ultimate Concerns: death (life is finite), freedom (we have to make choices and it is unclear what they should be based on), existential isolation (we are all ultimately alone in this universe), and meaninglessness (life has no inherent meaning, we have to find our own) (Yalom, 1980, pp.8-9).

We know from Victor Frankl (1984) that finding some overarching meaning in life is one of human’s deepest motivations. The hypothesis is that games can help in that regard, particularly if they draw on ritual as a source of inspiration.  Ritual has been used since the dawn of humankind to engage the Soul through symbolic action and thus bring about profound transformation, integration, balance, and healing. For this reason, ritual has also won its place in psychotherapeutic practice as a vehicle for personal change.

Games and ritual – while certainly different in some regards – also share salient properties, most importantly the potential for rich imagery, vividness, emotional intensity and symbolic enactment. This workshop is based on the argument that harnessing ritual for game design can help create games that contribute to a meaningful life and transformation beyond measurability, as well as help us look at existing games in new ways. 

The 3hrs workshop is structured in three main parts: 

  1. An introductory lecture that discusses different approaches of transformative game design to then zoom into myth and ritual as vehicles to engage the soul.
  2. A practical part in which participants design rituals based on personal issues to create transformative play-spaces for each other.
  3. Application to game design and analysis. Participants either create a pitch for a game inspired by the ritual creation of part 2 or apply the ritual lens to the analysis of existing games as a way of gaining new insights into their experiential and transformational qualities. 

Optional task: bring 1-3 objects of personal symbolic value for you (e.g. a rock, piece of jewellery, clothing item etc.) to the workshop Credits: Student participants are eligible to 2 credits from the OASIS lunch talk series.

Sign-up: Please register for this workshop through this link:
For queries about this workshop reach out to

Picture credits: Sabine Harrer