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PlayLab - a unique meeting place for computer games and performing arts in Skövde, Sweden.

Exciting things are happening in the large stage at Kulturlabbet in Skövde. Here, game researchers Rebecca Rouse and Lars Kristensen from the University of Skövde have launched PlayLab to develop new ways of telling stories with technology linked to game storytelling and game design.

PlayLab in Skövde is a high-tech malleable stage space with opportunities to explore the space between games, game technology and performing arts where researchers, professional cultural workers and young people collaborate. Behind the initiative is the Culture Department in Skövde municipality and the University of Skövde. PlayLab is part of Kulturlabbet (Skövde's cultural center for young people) and was inaugurated in connection with the opening of Kulturlabbet in June 2022. There are similar institutions around the world, but none of them involve the public in the same way as PlayLab does.

- We work with young people, university students, filmmakers, performers and researchers from different countries to explore new avenues in the art of video games. It's like a playground and a laboratory for performing arts and video game development," says Rebecca Rouse.

Need for physical space

Lars and Rebecca came up with the idea of PlayLab while listening to participants in a network they created. Future Media Theaters was established by Rebecca and Lars and includes some 60 participants in creative and educational professions. The network expressed a need for a physical space to explore professional art and theater with a focus on new technologies and where young people could be engaged.

- We realized that there was no place to experiment with these topics and therefore we started PlayLab which is run by the University of Skövde together with Kulturlabbet, Science Park Skövde, Riksteatern, Folkteatern, GöteborgsOperan and Skövde municipality, says Lars Kristensen.

Development important for the computer games industry in Skövde

The purpose of PlayLab is to nurture computer game development so that Skövde can continue to be an important place for the computer game industry. It is important to get young people involved so that they dare to test the technology and then start creating their own computer games or performing arts works.

- To develop, you need to experiment and try new things. For us, the eco-wheel with young people, gaming students and gaming companies is important. Then we get the development of the medium that is needed for it to live on and for Skövde to develop as a gaming city," says Lars Kristensen.

A theatre with cushions and a white cube

Summer courses at University of Skövde

Together with the University of Skövde, PlayLab organizes summer courses to which those studying computer game development at advanced level are welcome. This summer, circus artists from Fauna Circus >> and presented a performance that they wanted to develop in an interactive way.

There were 6 game developer students from the University of Skövde who, together with Riksteatern Väst and the circus artists, came up with the story. It became an interactive performance where the audience became part of the story with the help of different types of technology. They could control the light and communicate with different elements in the scenography," says Rebecca Rouse.

Game developers meet their audience

Meeting their audience and receiving direct feedback is something that artists are used to. But for a game developer, it happens more rarely.

- This is a chance for the game developers to meet the audience. After the performances, we offer drinks and snacks and the audience and the creators have the opportunity to talk to each other about their experiences," says Rebecca Rouse.

Rebecca and Lars have great visions for PlayLab and during the fall several performances are presented under the concept LudoKonst on October 26-28, created by Raucous Theatre from Bristol in the UK, Operation Opera in Halland and Folkteatern in Gothenburg. During the Culture Week in Skövde on October 19-29, 2023, it was possible to see the performance Comforter which is an immersive performance and an interactive experience where you are the only visitor. Don't miss this opportunity for a unique experience!

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