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 first international festival in Italy where game design looks beyond its own boundaries. Game Happens returns for a fourth edition to investigate the relationship between performance and experience, theatre and virtual reality, narrative and environmental design.


How It Started

Game Happens has been initiated in 2014 to bring international game designers, experience designers, students and game enthusiasts together in Genova (Italy). 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. Game Happens is a statement: a game can happen everywhere, at any time, you just need to unlock a certain understanding of the interactive medium to design playful experiences. International speakers are brought here to tell their own personal stories, because behind every game there is always (at least) one individual.

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. In 2015 the theme was "Beyond the Screen" and the festival focused on virtual reality and phyisical 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 talked about games and fitness, Michelle Westerlaken presented her research about human-animal interactions, Lena Mech about urban games, and Roberto Dillon explored the opportunity in game design higher education.

Game Happens! (2014)

In 2014, the main focus was to describe national and international success stories, as an inspiration for the creative industry operating in the Liguria region. It has been a chance of meeting and networking 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 started as an opportunity for Italian game developers to get to know the Dutch game industry: Rami Ismail (Vlambeer) and Zuraida Buter (Zo-ii) brought 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! 2016 – Right Now YouTube

Game Happens! 2015 – Beyond the Screen YouTube


download all screenshots & photos as .zip (3MB)

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)
  • "Thinl 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 2017
Apply for a press pass at http://pressenquiries.gamehappens.com.

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


Federico Fasce
Event Director

Marina Rossi
Event Producer

Emanuele Maccario
Showcase Coordinator

Claire Guillon
Web Strategist

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