Game Happens
Genova, Italy

Founding date:


Press contact:


Game Happens – c/o GLFC
Via L. A. Muratori, 5
Villa Bombrini
16152 Genova


Game Happens is the international festival in Italy where game design looks beyond its own boundaries. Game Happens is organised by a nonprofit cultural association based in Genova (Italy) focused on the impact of games.


How It Started

Game Happens is a nonprofit people-driven cultural association based in Genova (Italy) and focused on the human side of game design. Game Happens started in 2014 as an international festival in Italy – part conference and part showcase – dedicated to both indie game developers and students, without forgetting the diversity and variety of involved ideas and points of view. In the last four years, Game Happens brought together in Genova amazing and inspiring game people such as Rhianna Pratchett, Paolo Pedercini, Eric Zimmerman, Tale of Tales, Rami Ismail, Adrian Hon, and Chipzel. Game Happens curates exhibitions, and workshops, seeks partnerships with nonprofit organisations, localises meaningful games, and coordinates local meetings for game professionals and students of the Italian game scene. Genova has a small but growing community of game developers, and this festival is the occasion for them to learn from innovators from all over Europe. Game Happens is the first of its kind: no other event in Italy features the same take on the artistic, educational, cultural and creative sides of games. International speakers are brought here to tell their own personal stories, because behind every game there is always (at least) one individual.

Game Happens – Urban Geographies (2018)

This year we are focusing on how cities and urban settlements in general are built and experienced at the intersection between real life and video games. In a world in which the human race is ever increasingly choosing to settle within the urban space, it follows that the physical and architectural structure of a city will have to adapt to fulfil the social needs of its inhabitants. Are our cities to be mirrored in virtual reality? Or, shall we embrace a different approach in creating the urban geographies of video games? Where is the genius loci in game design?

Game Happens – On Stage (2017)

"On Stage" is a statement: a game can happen everywhere, at any time, and every space can be a stage to your interactive world. Especially today, thanks to virtual reality experiences, stepping into a virtual territory is a performative act: it’s like being on stage (performing in real time), and being among the audience in a theatre (attending a live performance) at the same time. International speakers are brought here to tell their own personal stories, because behind every game there is always (at least) one individual.

Game Happens! – Right Now (2016)

The theme of the 2016 event is "Right Now". The theme is the key to interpretation for different questions: When does the game happen? Right now, because it’s a local multiplayer game which can be played in the showcase area. What is the game about? It deals with actual socio-political issues, it works with real data. When should we start making the game community and culture more inclusive? Right now, because we have to deal with the lack of literacy about games and their meanings. When does the video game critique start to be important for this industry? Right now, because we have plenty of great games but few people can understand their potential and video game journalism is yet limited to reviews and scores.

Game Happens! – Beyond the Screen (2015)

Since the second edition, Game Happens! has presented a subtitle which is the main guideline for the curatorial concept. The 2015 theme is "Beyond the Screen". The festival focuses on virtual reality and physical games. International speakers shared their experiences in designing and developing digital games that create playful experiences within the physical world, sometimes through alternative controllers (or players!). Adrian Hon talks about games and fitness, Michelle Westerlaken presents her research about human-animal interactions, Lena Mech tells some stories about urban games, and Roberto Dillon explores the opportunity in game design higher education.

Game Happens! (2014)

During its first edition, Game Happens describes national and international success stories, as an inspiration for the creative industry operating in the Liguria region. It's a chance for professionals with experiences and values to share and for students interested in the video game industry, without forgetting the diversity and variety of involved ideas and points of view. Game Happens is about the human side of independent game development, to show you the required skills to be part of the industry. The first edition is also the opportunity for Italian game developers to get to know the Dutch game industry: Rami Ismail (Vlambeer) and Zuraida Buter (Zo-ii) bring their own perspectives about indie games and playful experiences.


Game Happens has been also coordinating local meetings for professionals and students of the game scene in Italy. #GenovaHangout is an excuse for game developers and enthusiasts in Genova to meet and, accidentally, create something unique together.


Game Happens curates exhibitions, round tables and workshops, and seeks partnership with nonprofit organisations in order to create learning and networking opportunities.


Game Happens – Trailer YouTube


download all photos as .zip (12MB)

There are far more images available for Game Happens on our Flickr profile. If you have specific requests, please do contact us!

download logo files as .zip (2MB)

Talks & Workshops

  • "Gender Me Softly: or Why on Earth Should I Worry about Gender in Game Design?" - Global Game Jam (Pisa, 20 January 2017)
  • "Think Like a Game Designer" - Workshop Creativi (Genova, 25 November 2016)
  • "The Architecture of Absence // Fragments of Space and Virtual Realities" - Museum Night (Pisa, 21 May 2016)
  • "The Role of a Game Designer: Predict and Improvise" - Game Design Week (Milano, 15 Apri 2016)
  • "Improv for Game Design" - Global Game Jam (Milano, 20 January 2016)
  • "Why You Should Start Making Games Right Now" - Codemotion (Milano, 21 November 2015)
  • "How Game Design Can Improve Your World" - Breakfast Seminar @ IIT (Genova, 11 November 2015)
  • "Some Thoughts about Game Design" - Politecnico (Milano, 20 October 2015)
  • "I Wish Everyone Could Make a Game" - TEDxPortoAntico (Genova, 17 October 2015)

About Us

  • "We now have a serious, important, different, game conference in Italy."
    - Pietro Righi Riva, co-founder at Santa Ragione
  • "It’s a very cosy, intimate event – in a way – so, it does feel very much more familiar and welcoming than GDC."
    - Karen Teixeira, nomad gamedev and illustrator
  • "It's a fun, informal setting that's perfect for getting inspired and swapping ideas."
    - Adrian Hon, CEO of Six to Start
  • "Great conference with great people."
    - Michelle Westerlaken, interaction designer
  • "Its vibrant environment and forward thinking community are hard to find anywhere else!"
    - Roberto Dillon, author and professor
  • "Inspiring atmosphere, cool speakers and an amazing venue - it had it all!"
    - Lena Mech, game designer and curator

Press enquiries for Game Happens 2018
Apply for a press pass at http://pressenquiries.gamehappens.com.

Stay Updated
Subscribe to our monthly newsletter at http://newsletter.gamehappens.com.


Marina Rossi
Event Director

Maddalena Grattarola
Conference Coordinator

Emanuele Maccario
Showcase Coordinator

Marco Pezzati
Art Director

Sara Canapa
Exhibition Designer

Jacopo Fabrini
Volunteer Coordinator

presskit() by Rami Ismail (Vlambeer) - also thanks to these fine folks