SWISSGAMES is initiated by Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council.

PlayBern – Utopia

Play Bern

Reitschule, Bern

21-24 October 2021

PlayBern is a festival of games and culture. Under the theme Utopia, this year’s edition will feature events, contests and workshops, with the focus on creative, playful projects and barrier-free gaming.

Pro Helvetia supports the realization of two workshops and a game jam:

  • Workshop “Disability and Game Design”, with Chris Solarski
    Friday 22 October, from 10 am to 1 pm
    Chris Solarski will conduct a game design workshop around the theme of disability, based on his “Interactive Empathy and Embodiment” (IEE) method. The method is an innovative, sensory design approach to game design and interactive media that is founded on traditional art techniques (and inputs from acting theory, neuroscience, psychology, disability aesthetics, etc.) to heighten the player-audience’s physical and emotional experience of gameplay. In the context of disability, the method will be used to explore non-conventional approaches to interactivity, with the aim of broadening the aesthetic scope of games. The workshop is a design-oriented event, so no programming skills are needed and all skills levels are welcome – from beginner to advanced.
  • Workshop “Make your own Experimental Hardware Game”, with Robin Baumgartner
    Friday 22 October, from 2 to 5 pm 
    In this workshop Robin Baumgartner will help the participants build their first experimental hardware game, entirely without programming! With the use of BBC Micro:bit, LED light strips, participants will learn how to use different sensors to experiment with unusual in- and outputs and make a new alternative controller game with them.
  • “Utopian Game Jam”, organized by Oleg Lavrovsky/ Echtzeit
    Kick-off Game Jam:  Thursday 21 October at 6 pm
    Checkpoint Alpha:  Friday 22 Octotber at 6 pm
    Checkpoint Beta:  Saturday 23 October at 6 pm
    Presentations:  Sunday 24 October at 1 pm

    According to the World Health Organization, about 15% of the world’s population has some kind of impairment which may restrict access to games. During a 24-hour hackathon, the festival aims to raise awareness of this by making video game concepts and prototypes that are especially accessible, addressing a range of physical and mental disabilities. “Utopian” new games will be conceptualized, designed, published and played on-site and on – a global platform for independent game developers.


Upcoming maintenance work

The application portal myprohelvetia will be updated from 1.1.-7.1.2024. Due to these changes, open applications must be finalized and submitted via the current online portal ( by the latest 23:59 on 31 December 2023. Until this date, the deadlines and criteria outlined in the current guidelines and calls for applications apply. New applications can be created and submitted in the application portal as of 8 January 2024.