links for 2010-03-31

Week 143

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!

links for 2010-03-23

  • “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.

A quick look at Tweetakt’s playful installations

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.


Medialab Utrecht's Knikkerbaan at Tweetakt

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.


Monobanda's Kleurkamer at Tweetakt

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.


Fourcelabs's Blockblazers at Tweetakt

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.

Week 142

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.