“The challenge for us here in Europe as designers in the cultural as well as the technological sphere, is to design things that support the rich variation of European cultures rather than imposing a global techno-culture, the same from Seoul to San Francisco to Sienna.” A talk by Gillian Crampton Smith on design research that you really must read.
“Who can forget the mass MRT stabbings of 2016? The result of a carriage full of trainee chefs on route to a carve-off and an advertiser trying out happy slapping in an AR game show format. Whoops.” Indeed.
“Tweak is a tool we’ve built to modify variables in Processing while your code is running.” Gosh that’s useful. Via Alper.
I nearly forgot about last week’s notes even though I wasn’t even that busy. So here I am writing this on a sunday from the couch after having had a nice family brunch and with a La Chouffe close at hand. It’s all good.
Since this is a sunday I will keep it short and strictly chronological for once. Monday started off with a long interview for a book on Utrecht’s creative SMEs. This was followed by a meeting with Alexander and Ianus to evaluate the last This happened – Utrecht and make plans for the next one. On tuesday I visited the HKU for the first of what will become many conversations that I’ll have with my new group of students. Afterwards I hurried to Layar HQ for more design work, which basically took up the rest of the week (punctuated by a lunch with Alper about his trip to Austin and NYC and another one with James about the Urbanode project he is planning at VURB.) Laurens (of LouLou & Tummy fame) has joined us at Layar bringing a whole new dimension to the creative work being done there. It’s exciting to be part of that.
So there we are, a brief review of the week. Now if you don’t mind I have a Chouffe to quaff and a few 3voor12 Draait podcasts to listen to. Bring on week 144!
“My main interest here is to extract the design techniques as very simple design patterns or ‘gambits’* that can be applied in other design situations outside games themselves, where designers would like to influence user behaviour. So these are (at least at present) presented simply as provocations: a “What if…?” question plus an example.” This is a nice check list of sorts, with some good examples. The gambits are of very different levels of abstraction though, “rewards” and “levels” sit uneasily next to “playfulness” and “storytelling”. The gambit descriptions also do not address the experiential dimension, so you’d have a hard time determining which ones to use if you’re concerned with creating a suitable or even coherent user experience from these.
Tweetakt is happening in Utrecht at the moment. It’s a youth theatre festival, really pushing the limits of what we think that means. As an example, they’ve provided space for several installations at the festival centre on the Neude. I went over for a quick look today — even though I know most of the creators personally and am familiar with several of the pieces. They’re all free and open to the public, so if you’re in the area, you should go too.
Made by a few principals at the Medialab Utrecht. Push a button and a marble starts rolling down a futuristic looking track. Halfway through it enters a scanner of sorts, and is converted into a virtual counterpart visible on a screen, only to emerge physically after some time again. At the end of the track, you get to keep the marble.
It’s hardly interactive, but does look kind of impressive and of course, marbles are always fun.
A new version what is becoming a classic by the troublemakers at Monobanda. A beamer, a white decor and wiimotes enable you to paint with light. It’s a simple premise, the execution is serviceable but the result is quite magical. The addition of white jackets for people that want to become part of the canvas is a real nice touch.
Made by my friends at Fourcelabs, this is the one that hasn’t the benefit of a spectacular physical shape but is the most fun to play. It’s a competitive platform game playable with eight people at the same time with some clever social and physical touches. Scoring points is rewarded with a big photo of yourself that is shown for a few seconds, and the game wraps around two big screens that are back to back, forcing you to move around and compete with the other players for physical floor space.
It’s nice to see this kind of stuff at a theatre festival. I hope the pieces will do well — despite the fact that not all of them have been placed and presented to the public in the best way — so that we’ll get more of this stuff in the years to come.
“What I really want to do is to use the machine to complete the Sagrada Familia. And to build on the moon.” Mindboggling stuff about new 3D printing technology.
I am sat on the couch at home typing this. iTunes is on shuffle (some Burial at the moment). I’ve just had a Bi-Fi snack sausage (a guilty pleasure) and some ice tea. I was kind of hungry, but now I’m ok.
Last week wasn’t as crazy as many recent ones have been. Still pretty busy, with some work in the evenings etc. But the pace is lower. That’s a nice change.
Today I sort of wrapped up project Tako. Sort of, because although I’ve delivered what was this project’s aim, it is part of something much larger. So we’re already making plans for phase two. Anyway, I’ve published an annotated deck of slides to the project’s participants weighing in at 100+. It describes concepts for playful stuff that can be added to the programs of ten of Utrecht’s major cultural events. It also describes a metagame that can be used to tie it all together. The response to it has been good so now the next step is to actually produce a selection of these concepts, which is super exciting.
I started the week with a long drive to the Westland for a slightly overdue evaluation of Mega Monster Battle Arena. Dario Fo, Daniël and myself agree it would be awesome to put on an improved version of the show at other venues because it really is something special, more people should see it. If you have suggestions for a suitable event or venue, let me know.
On wednesday I made a last minute decision to drop by the great TrouwAmsterdam again for an evening on maps as art and new cartography techniques. Amongst other’s Sarah van Sonsbeeck was there to talk about her work. She mentioned the project Alper and I did with her, which I found flattering. The evening’s program contained a lovely range of the super-artistic to the very applied and the hyper-analog to the purely digital. Good stuff. It reminds me of the fact that I want to do Hubbub games that involve maps in some way.
In between, I’ve been banging away at designs for Layar. It’s interesting to experience the rhythm of idea divergence and convergence in a project. It’s like ebb and flow. This week was definitely characterized by a new wave of divergence, which means scrambling to capture all that emerges. Next week we’ll need to bring it all together again and focus things. Ebb and flow.
iTunes has started playing an Interpol song now. I think I might grab some crisps after I’ve posted this.
A long but worthwhile post (with skippable parts clearly marked) by Sirlin about the striking contrast between the virtual items summit and its indie counterpart at GDC 2010.
When it comes to participatory culture, Shirky says it best. Worth reading for the anecdote about his friend’s daughter watching a DVD alone.